In a city or vineyard, during the harvest or anytime of the year, discover French wines. From Montmartre to Burgundy, here are a few enotourism trails to take on foot, on bike or with music.
Harvest celebration in Montmartre
From October 7th to 11th, Montmartre will celebrate the harvests of its 2015 vintage. Vines have been present on the Hill since the 10th century, but they gradually lost ground until they nearly disappeared in the last century. They were saved by the Republic of Montmartre, an association founded in 1921 by a handful of artists in love with their Hill who were determined to save its riches. Since then, 1,726 vine plants produce wine every year in the heart of Paris. The harvests are an opportunity for celebration organised by the Comité des fêtes et d’action sociale du XVIIIe arrondissement (Celebration and Social Action Committee of the 18th district).
Saint Émilion: in the shades of the ramparts
The village of Saint-Émilion does not have only its wine to offer: it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Most of all, it is a gorgeous medieval city that raises its limestone towers in the South-West of France. When strolling in the beautiful paved street, the visitor towers over the vineyards. He may then walk back down to enjoy the shade of the village church carved into the rock in the 11th century.
The Nuit du patrimoine (Night of the Heritage) on September 19th is a nice opportunity to visit Saint-Émilion by night. Many entertainment activities highlight the value of the village and its surroundings. The high point of the celebration is the Sound and Light show that ends up in a firework.
A marathon in the vineyards: 26.2 miles of wine and celebrations
Every year in mid-September, over 8,000 runners start an uncommon marathon in the village of Pauillac. Most of the runners are wearing costumes. Over twenty bands take care of the cheering and support. And you can't drink water if you're thirsty, but instead taste the former year's vintage on the numerous stands punctuating the race. All this is done while running in one of the most beautiful vineyards in France.
Same idea, but different vineyard and season: the Marathon du vignoble d’Alsace (Alsace vineyard marathon) starts in June in the East of France.
Riding a bike in Burgundy
Vines not only produce a great drink. They also create fantastic landscapes. If you want to ride the Route des Grands Vins (Fine Wines Trail) in Burgundy, you will need to be fit as a fiddle in spite of the temptations: the Voie verte (Green trail) goes through the vineyards of the Côte châlonnaise in Northern Burgundy to the Mâconnais region in Southern Burgundy.
You can enjoy gourmet stops throughout your journey: the Paulée de la Côté châlonnaise, in mid-October, is a nice opportunity to celebrate the harvests. But intoxication can have other forms. Music, for instance: throughout the year, the region offers many festivals, such as Musique au Chambertin, which mixes various styles from jazz to text songs, or Grandes heures de Cluny, a festival of classical music held in the gorgeous abbey of Cluny.
Photo credit: Julien Menichini