Winemaking was carried on in Paris from Roman times until the 19th century, when the city’s expansion swallowed up most of the available land. It was once thought that Parisian vineyards were a thing of the past. This is no longer the case.
Located not far from the world famous Sacré Coeur Basilica on the butte of Montmartre, can be found one of the city’s best kept secrets. Tucked away out of plain sight is an actual vineyard, home to more than 1,700 Pinot Noir, Landay and Gamay grapevines in 1600 square metres of land. Established in 1934 so that property developers could not build on the site, the Clos Montmartre vineyard today produces around 1,000 to 1,500 bottles of wine each year. The pressing of the grapes is carried out in a specially designated cave belonging to the town hall of the 18th arrondissement. The finished product is then auctioned, the proceeds going to charitable works in the local area.
Each year, to celebrate the end of the harvest and the arrival of the new wine, Parisians gather for a festival. There are craft and local produce stalls, parades, shows, exhibitions, concerts and dances, plus a big fireworks display at the foot of the Sacré Coeur. Free guided tours of the vineyard are also available. There’s plenty of activities, workshops and snacks for the kids and, of course, opportunities for a little wine tasting for mums and dads. Each year various celebrities are invited to be patrons of the festival. In 2014 the guests are the actress Sandrine Bonnaire and the singer-songwriter and actor Jacques Higelin.
Autumn in Paris brings the russet and gold hues of the season, but also a fabulous selection of events guaranteed to appeal to a wide audience. Two of these take place in October at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. Automotive aficionados will not want to miss the biannual Paris Motor Show; an event which has its finger on the pulse of all new developments in the world of cars. Lovers of cocoa and chocolate will be drawn inexorably but certainly willingly to the Salon du Chocolat, where the world’s greatest chocolatiers gather and where you can enjoy fun events such as the Cocoa Show and the Chocolate Fashion Show.
******• Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival: October 8-12, 2014 on the Montmartre Hill, Paris 18e Limited access - Detailed information