After an extended summer and some lovely warm October days, the autumn season has finally arrived in Languedoc! The wine-harvest ‘les vendanges’ has been one of the longest for many years, and in spite of hailstorms and heavy rains, indications are that this crop will be a good one – so keep an eye out for Languedoc wines from 2018!
The winter evenings may be drawing-in but there’s plenty going on in the region at this time of year, especially when it comes to food and drink. We’ve compiled a list of autumn events and other suggestions of things to see and do – there’s something for everyone here!
18 October – Perpignan: Nuit et Fête du Vin Primeur
On the third Thursday in October, a barrel of the year’s new wine is paraded through the streets to Cathédrale St-Jean to be blessed. Wine tasting takes place all over the city, and the sound of samba, jazz and blues music fills the streets!
21 October – Gruissan: Fête des Vendanges
A delightful way to spend a Sunday in this historic fishing port!
15 November – Beaujolais Nouveau
We may be over 300km from Beaujolais but today marks the tradition of the first tasting of this year’s unmatured wines – often referred to locally as ‘vin primeur’. You may be pleasantly surprised…or not!
15 November – Perpignan: Muscat de Noël
Closer to home we’ll be tasting the first sweet Muscat wines for Christmas. Muscat is typical to this region but the Christmas wines are considered to be extra special.
23-25 November – Montpellier: Fête des Vignes
The Esplanade Charles de Gaulle is transformed into a wine making village with more than forty local vignerons offering tastings and other produce.
20-21 October (Béziers), 3-4 November (Canet-en-Roussillon), 9-11 November (Agde), 30 November – 2 December (Guissan): Foire au Chocolat
Workshops, tasting, competitions, cakes – indulge your senses with one (or more) of these local events celebrating the beauty of cocoa!
21 October – Bize-Minervois: Fête de la Lucques
The Oulibo olive mill will be offering tastings and activities throughout the day to celebrate the finest olive grown locally – the Luques!
4 November – Narbonne: Fête du Miel
24 November – Paraza, 24 November – Limoux, 15 December -Rieux Minervois, 16 December – Céret: Foire au Gras
Not to everyone’s tastes these are typical markets pre-Christmas where you can stock your pantry with meats and fats.
27-28 October – St Pons de Thomiere: Fête de la Châtaigne
Chestnuts are often served in France – roasted, preserved, in soups or sugared as sweets. There are many chestnut festivals this season but the one in St Pons is perhaps the best known.
22 December (Talairan), 29 December (Céret): Marché aux Truffes
As chefs are preparing for family gatherings and Christmas and New Year feasts the delicate flavor of truffle will add that something special. These are just 2 of the markets celebrating the ‘black diamond’ to be found in local woodlands!
Sport & Culture
24-28 October – Montpellier: International Show-Jumping Competition
31 October – 4 November – Cap d’Agde: Autumn Boat Show
1-4 November – Toulouse: Les Machines Géant
An incredible piece of theater on a massive scale with 47 ton machines touring the city streets before going on exhibit from 9 November.
8-11 November – Montpellier: Art Montpellier
17-18 November – Aumessas: Journées des Métiers Art
24-25 November (Montpellier) & 1-2 December (Béziers): Dinosaur Exhibition
9 December – La Grande Motte: Yachting challenge in the bay
16 December – Montpellier: Les Jouets Anciens
A vide-grenier specializing in old toys and games – a lovely trip down memory lane just before Christmas!
7-8 December – Nationwide: Le Telethon
The first Telethon took place in France in 1987. Supported and sponsored by many actors and actresses, singers, or sports champions, community events across the country raise thousands of euros for medical charities and research. There’ll be something happening near you – ask at your local Mairie for details!
There will be a vast number of Christmas fairs and markets taking place from mid-November onwards, but these are some of our favorites:
23-26 November – Toulouse: Marché de Noël
24-25 November – Villeveyrac: The Cracker Fair
15-16 December – Roujan: Le Marché de Noël de Cassan 2018
Also not to be missed is the spectacular Coeur de Ville en Lumières in Montpellier – an incredible light show taking place 29 November – 1 December
Other dates for the diary …
You can expect many business and public services to be closed Thursday 1 November (All Saints Day), Sunday 11 November (Armistice Day) and Tuesday 25 December (Christmas Day). Keep in mind that Friday 2 November and Monday 24 December are days caught between a weekend and a bank holiday, so many employees will take them as an extra day off and will ‘faire le pont’!
Across Languedoc the school children will be on holiday 20 October – 4 November then again from 22 December to 7 January 2019.
And finally on a brighter note …
Friday 21 December 23h23 – Winter Solstice
This is the day with the shortest period of daylight and it’s the longest night of the year – after which we’ll be making our way back to 15 hours of sunshine every day.
So there’s something else to look forward to!
Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.
All articles by: Annette Morris