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The Eiffel Tower still lights up the sky, just maybe earlier than before. There are still throngs of tourists in the streets and still the city looks somewhat emptier. The french bureaucracy is still unbelievably slow, yet the queues of people are actually moving. It’s over! Something changed, seemingly overnight. Summer has officially ended, and fall has gracefully unnoticed entered the scene… It’s time…

 

2011. Act Three.

A yellow curtain is covering the ground. Here and there red spots grab your attention as if the Summer has cried bloody tears when leaving. The sound of wind echoes in the tiny Paris streets. Suddenly there is a fresh crispness to the air. The sun is still shining but it is not hot enough for my breezy summer dresses, even though it’s just September and the memories of soft sand, sea waves and sunshine still warm my body. There’s this contagious surge of energy as people roll back into town and get back to their French lives with a baguette, bottle of wine and some cheese under their arm.

And this is what autumn in France is all about… well, to be honest all seasons in France are pretty much about… Wine! Along with the warm pallette of colours, autumn brings the annual wine harvest in the thousands of small and big wineries around France. So its’s time to celebrate and there are all kinds of festivals and events created to praise Dionysus in Paris.

Autumn = Wine

Wine season is officially open in the first days of September with a Wine Festival or Foire des Vins all over France. From discounts in grocery stores to small degustations and full-on fairs, wine is being poured all around me and I just can’t refuse a sip of this elixir of life (it’s good for the heart you know). My favorite from all these events though, was a small town fair near Paris that combined both sins of my palate – wine and cheese. Antony  is a quaint suburb just 10 minutes south of Paris by train and  this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of  La Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins (or simply said cheese and wine festival). In the Saint Santurin quartier reigns excitement every year in early September and local and visiting merchants get ready for a true celebration. Little stalls, embellished their finest with photos and maps of the respective regions they represent welcome visitors all day for a weekend. aAong with the tastebuds, there is delight for the eyes too. Saturday night, the sky of the square town hall is illuminated with thousands of lights and music echoes from the walls of the church to turn the night into a wine ephemereal.

2011 ‘s festival was organized under the Swiss flag and many merchants would gladly allow you to discover and rediscover the 10 Swiss cheeses that have made their trip to Antony. You’ve probably tasted Emmentaler or Gruyere, but have you tasted Vacherin Fribourg or Sbrinz?  Also on the menu: the famous fondue half and half, based on Swiss Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourg, and plates of charcuterie. Then there are all the other specialties of other regions like Aligot – a delicious mix of puree and melted cheese Tome Fraîche… yummmm! And to appreciate them, just take a sip of the estate wines Kursner, considered the best Swiss wines, with a range of white wines, rosés and reds. Swiss or French, wine is all around and a glass is just a hand’s reach away. Loire valley, Burgogne or Bordeaux, I was eager try a sip from all the little wineries and chateaus until my cheeks got a healthy rosy nuance…

And this was just the beginning of September. During the second weekend in October, Fête Des Vendanges de Montmartre celebrates  the harvesting of the grapes from the vineyards in Montmartre, with a parade, long walks trough the vineyards and multiple tastings. Beaujolais Nouveau Festival makes its annual appearance in November and this young wine comes at the strike of midnight on the third Thursday of the month. Throughout France, everyone heads out to their local café, resto or wine store to celebrate the newest wine offerings, leaving behind any wine snobbery about new vintages, and just enjoying the new wines for what they are and well into the night. Then Le Grand Tasting is held end of November at the prestigious Carrousel du Louvre at the Louvre Museum where you can try a tasting from 200 stalls, featuring over 1,500 different wines and champagnes… oh, dear me…

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