Fall is a time of celebrations! It is a great opportunity to experience that famous joie de vivre, as the spirit is light and carefree, and there is always good food to be had. Plan your fall schedule with us ...
Braderie de Lille - September 3-4, 2022
While these dates have passed, plan ahead for the Braderie de Lille next year, as it is always the first weekend in September, and you will want to book your lodging WELL in advance. What's it all about? Take a closer look ...
If you long to find treasures of yesteryear, come to the enchanting city of Lille (in the northern most region of France) the first weekend in September. This annual street fair is the largest flea market in Europe, with over 2 million visitors annually. This custom of the "vide-grenier" (cleaning out the attic) dates back to the 12th century (although it is hard to believe they had "old" stuff back then)!
The Braderie takes place for only 2 days, but there are numerous events in the city before, during and after the weekend, including a half-marathon. There is indeed a festive atmosphere as musicians fill the squares, and mussel shells pile up around town. Moules-frites are the signature dish of this festival, and an impressive 500 tons of mussels are consumed!
What will you find? Anything and everything "vintage", "retro" or "antique" - books, games, toys, home decor ... the hunt is on! With 100 kilometers of stands, you are sure to find your petit bonheur. Local stores also clean house, and great deals can be found at your favorite shops and boutiques.
French Heritage Days (Journées du Patrimoine) September 17-18, 2022
Not everything is about food (although we wouldn't have a problem with that!) or spending money (ditto!). This next one is about giving back to the community - and it is free!
This event happens one weekend every September, and this year the dates are Sept 17 and 18. What's it all about? You get free access to historic sites and museums, and other wonderful places that are normally closed to the public throw open their doors. This year there will be a special focus on « Patrimoine durable » or "Sustainable Heritage", taking into account all the ways we protect the environment while celebrating European culture.
No matter where you are in France, there will be free visits, special events and unique opportunities to see what is normally behind closed doors. (Last year I happened to be at Mont St Michel that weekend, and everyone was admitted for free). To find out what is not to be missed in your area, use the interactive map on this site: https://journeesdupatrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/
Cara-Meuh - September 17-18, 2022
Of course if you would rather eat, drink and spend money this weekend, we have a great option! I touched on this festival in the last blog post (Fall in love with fall trips), but there is a lot more to the Cara-Meuh festival than caramels (although that is not a bad way to start).
The small town of Vains is a stone's throw from Mont St Michel so it's possible to visit the abbey for free and still take part in these festivities. Parfait, non?
To take part in the 5th Cara-meuh festival, follow the long line of cars to the family farm where Jean-Baptiste Lefranc arrived in 1929 with a carriage and 4 cows. In the capable hands of the 4th generation, the Lefranc family has proven that hard work, creativity and strong core values pay off. There were some 5000 visitors last year! This farm, that become fully organic in 2013, does it all, from cultivating the soil (by rotating the animals,) to creating their products by hand and selling them on site. Every year they seem to have new innovative ideas on how to do better, for the environment and for their community. (Can you tell I am a super-fan?)
What can you expect at the festival? LOTS of people, having a great time! There is something for everyone - food trucks, wine and cidre, games and activities for the kids, local producers and vendors (try to the roasted garlic!) plus music, farm visits and plenty of interaction with the animals (I even got to milk a cow). This short video should give you a better idea ...
Plan to eat lots of caramels - and bring some back for family and friends (if you can keep your hands off of them!). They are hand-made from organic milk from the farm. These caramels are richer and more decadent than any made in a factory because the caramel is given the time and attention to cook slowly, without additives. You can see the difference in the dark, rich color, and the taste ... well, you will never go back to factory-made! There are several different flavors to sample as well, such as vanilla, hazelnut and Calvados.
Bonne dégustation! (Happy tasting!)
Fête de la Gastronomie - September 24-25, 2022
Similar to the Journées du Patrimoine, the Fête de la Gastronomie takes place in each corner of France, and is about giving back to the community - this time with food and wine. This Fête began in 2011 as an opportunity for the French to discover, or rediscover, their rich culinary heritage.
La Fête de la Gastronomie highlights every aspect of food, from quality ingredients to unique culinary creations. France has such a variety of regional specialties to discover. There is also an emphasis on sharing - from the producers to the chefs to the people they serve. There is a generosity, and a convivialité to these events. Bringing people together over food - is there anything better? To find an event near you, search La Fête de la Gastronomie and your city.
It may be hard to think about food after an indulgent September, but take a quick hike and prepare yourself for October's line-up! (Relax, it's not all food).
Festival des coquillages et des crustacés - Granville, Oct 1-2
Toute la mer sur un plateau - All the sea on a platter ... it's time to crack open some shells! To kick off scallop fishing season (la coquille Saint-Jacques), gourmands and gourmets gather at the Halle à Marée de Granville to sample the many varieties of seafood of the Bay of Granville-Chausey. Prawns ... mussels ... clams ... scallops ... what is your favorite? Did you know that the Blue Lobster from Granville is said to be much tastier than our North American version? I'm up for that challenge!
Tip: Did you know that when you eat moules (mussels) you can use one of the shells as your utensil for eating the others? It is perfectly shaped to grab the mussel from the shell.
41ème festival de la bande dessinée et de l’image projetée -Quai des Bulles Festival - St Malo Oct 7-9
Comics have a special place in the hearts of kids and adults alike. Whether you grew up with Tintin, Lucky Luke and Asterix, or prefer modern comics and animated films, the 41st festival of comics and projected images is a great reason to visit the picturesque town of St Malo located on the English Channel. 700 comic book authors come together to share their passion.
For a detailed look at the event schedule, go to: http://festival.quaidesbulles.com/
Bayonne Chocolate Festival - Oct 29, 30 & Nov 1, 2022
Bayonne Fête son Chocolat!
L’Académie du Chocolat de Bayonne and the city of Bayonne (near Biarritz in the southwest corner of France) are once again organizing their chocolate festival. One part fun, one part educational and one part gastronomic, this is a festival I can't miss! I am a chocoholic, and had I known there was a Chocolate Academy, this would have been my choice for higher education! Games, tastings, demonstrations and gifts make for a decadent program! All of the details will soon be announced at www.chocolatdebayonne.fr.
While Americans are fattening up the turkey for Thanksgiving, the French are preparing to uncork wines! The harvest is complete and it is time to celebrate!
Beaujolais Nouveau - Thursday, November 17, 2022
I have often wondered if the fact that the Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released just a week before Thanksgiving is a coincidence? This light, fresh, red wine does seem to pair quite well with Thanksgiving turkey and cranberries! Beaujolais Nouveau often gets a bad rap. It is not meant to be the wine you keep in your cave for 10 years, but as a glimpse of how the year's vintage will be. It is not pretentious, but lighthearted and convivial (yes, that is one of my favorite words!). After all of the hard work of the harvest, the vineyards open their doors to welcome the public and celebrate another fine year. It is a "moveable feast" as friends and neighbors wander to various vineyards, whose owners graciously share their various wines and appetizers. There are many small, local producers in the Beaujolais region, so pick one (or a few!) to visit! In case you need inspiration, here is a look at the video we did at Georges Duboeuf during last year's vendages.
Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction - November 20, 2022
The following Sunday is for the more serious Burgundy wines. The 162nd Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction will be held at the Halles de Beaune on November 20, 2022. This is the world’s oldest charity auction, with its roots going back to 1443. The Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune was created to be a charitable hospital for those in the community who were most in need. The most generous donations to fund the hospital came from neighboring vineyards, so in 1859 it was decided to auction wines. 160 auctions later, it is the most renown wine auction. The hospital has moved, of course, but the beautiful building, now a museum, is definitely worth a visit. Polychrome roofs, made of glazed flat tiles in colorful patterns, were characteristic of stately buildings in Burgundy, and this one is exceptional. And of course, the auction proceeds still go towards supporting the cost of medical care and upkeep of the organization’s hospitals. The proceeds for one particular barrel, the Pièce des Présidents, are donated by the Hospices de Beaune to a specially nominated charity every year.
If you are left wanting for more, ne vous inquiétez pas, the Christmas markets will begin in early December!