Top 5 Reasons to Attend La Fête des Vendanges
Every year in October an exciting festival takes place through the streets of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement.
The vineyard grows a variety of different grapes year round and come October it is time for these grapes to be harvested. As a long standing tradition within the village, the harvest brings with it a five day long festival for the public to enjoy.
Both the festival and the vineyard are very special components within the Montmartre ecosystem. The festival brings in an estimated 500,000 visitors to the city every year; thats just a few thousand less than what Paris Pride rakes in.
Here are 5 reasons to attend la Fête des Vendanges this October.
ENTRY FEE: FREE With Options To Purchase once inside
Driving to this event is not advised
METRO STATION: ABBESSES / LAMARCK CAULAINCOURT / Chateau Rouge
1. La Fête des Vendanges Only Comes Round Once A Year
It comes and it goes & if you miss it you spend the better part of the year that follows pondering how different your life would have been had you simply made the effort to attend when you had the chance.
Perhaps that’s a little dramatic. The point is this is a momentous event with something for everyone. The city of Paris and vineyard management go to great lengths to curate a program that caters to many genres of interest.
Over the course of the five days there will be exhibitions, screenings of independent films, public speakers, live concerts, educational conferences and an array of entertaining performances. On the last night there is even an elaborate fireworks display above the Sacre Coeur church at the top of the hill.
These activities will take place throughout the winding streets of the district, with all the usual attractions and landmarks open for business as well .
On top of these events you’ll also enjoy more food and wine options than you can count. Wine tasting is found in abundance and there are cooking classes available to attendees in which traditional French dishes are taught.
2. Proceeds From La Fête des Vendanges Go To Charity
Sometime during the festival the annual wine auction will take place in a public space in Montmartre. The auction features all of the wines produced from the yearly harvest by the Montmartre Vineyard.
All of the proceeds made during this auction are donated to the selected charity of the year.
The bottles begin at either €20 or €40, depending on the grape. The generosity of the attendees sees some of these wines selling for hundreds of euros above market value.
Some believe these steep prices are unreasonable when you consider the quality of the wine that is produced. When you consider the unique nature of this event and the cause that the auction supports, however, it’s really not hard to justify splurging on an average bottle of notably rare wine, regardless of the quality of the drink!
3. The Fête des Vendanges Includes Children
The event prides itself on being a place for families and young children. All are welcome, and parents are encouraged to bring their children along after the end of the school day in Paris (since the festival is five days, three of these usually fall during the week).
Sometime during the Fête des Vendanges there is always an event that brings over 1000 children together in a grand display of peaceful messages for humanity. In the past this has been done through the expression of dance, however each year can be done differently.
An event called “Namaste Montmartre” was recently added to the festival program. It is an interactive yoga session that is open to adults and children of all ages. Professionals are on site to coordinate the session and make appropriate adjustment to poses where necessary.
4. The Montmartre Vineyard Only Produces Around 1000 Bottles of Wine Per Year
When I referred to the wine produced by the annual harvest as “rare”, I meant it.
The very compact nature of the Montmartre Vineyard means that it is only able to produce between 1000 and 1700 bottles of wine per year at best. This spectrum is optimistic and the production rate has been on the the lower end in the most recent years.
The wine that you are bidding for during the auction at the Fête des Vendanges will be one of these very limited edition bottles.
Despite taking up only 0.15 hectares of land, the Montmartre Vineyard is able to produce over 27 variants of wine; 75% of these being Gamay grapes, and another 20% being Pinot.
The Fête des Vendanges is your one and only chance to get your hands on one of these bottles; they are not put up for sale in stores or at any other point during the festival other than the auction.
5. The Fête des Vendanges Keeps the Montmartre Vineyard in Operation
If coming to Montmartre for film screenings, delicious food, live acts, free guided walking tours, an abundance of wine or fireworks by night aren’t enough reason to bring you to the Fête des Vendanges, maybe keeping the history of Montmartre alive is?
Being the small establishment that it is, the Montmartre Vineyard depends on the success of the yearly festival to keep the farm in operation for the year ahead.
The vineyard has been around since 1933 as a means of sectioning off large portions of land in Montmartre that could not be sold to real estate developers. Montmartre wanted parts of the village to remain untouched by big business, and the fertile nature of the soil made it the perfect place to grow crops.
The vineyard is fast approaching the 100 year mark. If it is to continue to be a distinguished landmark in the 18th arrondissement then the Fête des Vendanges is imperative to its survival.