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Paris vineyard celebrates harvest

Tony Cross
3 min

Paris's only vineyard is holding its 77th annual harvest festival from Wednesday until Sunday. The Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre features fireworks, parades, tasting sessions and a fancy dress parade, as well as several exhibitions and musical performances in Paris's 18th arrondissement.

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The theme of this year's festival is humour, with actress Firmine Richard and actor and director Gérard Jugnot as star guests. Last year 500,000 people attended.

Wednesday is children's day, which features a series of guided tours for children as well as a fancy dress parade and a party.

The singer Anaïs and the group La Chanson du Dimanche will be playing at an exclusive concert at the Cigale concert hall on Wednesday evening. 

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Cooking demonstrations and themed workshops on wine, bread, olive oil and spices will be on offer at a tasting school. Stalls selling food and wine from all over France are set up around the Sacré-Coeur church, where you can get the best view of the fireworks.

The finale will be a free performance at the foot of Sacré-Coeur by the comedy act Train du Talent iDTGV, which 5,000 people are expected to attend.

The Lavoir Moderne Parisien has lined up several African comedians, including Mamane who has a regular spot on RFI in French. And rappers Conte de Bouderbala will be performing on Sunday morning.

See a photo report of the 2008 festival here.

Le Clos Montmartre

In the 16th century, the residents of Montmartre, which was at the time outside Paris, were principally wine growers. The wine was best known for its diuretic qualities, and by the end of the 17th century, the vineyard had become a wasteland.

In 1929, the Montmartre artist Francisque Poulbot began to work on the land, which was renamed Square de Liberté.

In 1933, the Paris city council planted 2,000 vines, in response to demands from the Vieux Montmartre society.

The grapes are pressed in the cellars of the mayor's office of the 18th arrondissement.

The profits from wine sales go to charitable projects in Montmartre.

The vendanges are more a revival than a complete new invention. Local patriots say that there was a temple to Bacchus on the hill in Roman times. Bacchic traditions continued through the Middle Ages in dozens of bars and cabarets.

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