We in New England have a cliché checklist of fall activities, often including apple picking and apple cider donuts, foliage tourism, mulled wine (try our recipe!) and other cozy beverages, and crunchy leaf piles. I couldn’t help but wonder what such a list would look like in France. Just how is Autumn celebrated in l’Hexagone ? These are just a few of the festivals the French enjoy to mark the change in the seasons.
Foire de Dijon For the Francophile foodie, the Foire de Dijon promises twelve days of “de bons moments à savourer ensemble” (good moments to savor together). Nearly six hundred expositions show off the latest in artisan food, home arts, beauty and health, and technologies. Each year highlights a different national cuisine, with India taking center stage at this year's foire. Watch professional chefs show off their skills, get a taste of international cuisine, and visit the animals at la Foire Côte-d´Or.
Festival d’automne à Paris This multidisciplinary arts festival has been going strong since 1972. Every year, around 40 different cultural institutions host the Festival, including the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, the MC93, the Centre Pompidou, the Théâtre de Chelles, and the Philharmonie de Paris, to name a few. While this festival started out as a way to promote contemporary art in the fields of theatre, music, dance, visual arts and cinema, it has since grown on the international stage. They have dedicated significant programming to the arts from Korea, Mongolia, South Africa, China, India, Iran, Mexico, Japan, and Egypt.
Oktoberfest (Fête de la bière) Though the French may be more associated in the American mind with wine, they also enjoy a good beer! From Paris to Marseille, Oktoberfest is a yearly tradition marked by beer, pretzels, and general fanfare. This folk festival originated in Munich, but is now popular all over the world. La version française is part of this long-running European tradition and a chance to enjoy authentic French beers. Prost!
Festival de la Pomme For more than 15 years, a festival all about apples has been running in Trévières, Normandy. On a campground named Sous les pommiers (“under the apple trees”), this apple fest features two days of workshops and fun with the aim of celebrating the gastronomic and cultural significance of the fruit in Normandy. From apple cooking competitions (both salty and sweet!) to cider bars, storytelling to traditional games of the region, this festival has it all. Not convinced? They even offer a workshop to make smoothies using the power of peddling a bike! I know I’ll be thinking of Le Festival de la pomme next time I go apple picking.
Wine festivals galore! The French are known for wine - and for good reason. Wine festivals in France run nearly year-round, kicking off with the fall harvest in St. Emilion. This small town near Bordeaux takes its role as a wine capital very seriously, with a festival involving a processional and fireworks to mark the beginning of the season and commemorate the region’s long and rich love affair with le vin. Le Ban des Vendanges de la Jurade de Saint Emilion is an ancient tradition for the modern wine enthusiast. Santé !
For the casual sommelier, there are plenty of other fêtes to enjoy like a fine wine. For example, La Fête des Vendages de Montmartre which takes place in view of the iconic Sacré-Coeur basilica. What makes this festival even more unique is that Montmartre is the last part of Paris where wine is still grown.
With so many different types of festivals, France has something for everyone looking to enjoy the onset of autumn! Which of these festivals would be your ideal celebration of fall?
But if you’re Boston-bound like us this fall, be sure to stop by for events at the Center! We even have our own annual autumnal festival, the Boston Book Festival, where we welcome Francophone authors who give interviews and book signings at the Center. This free event in English will give you a taste of la littérature francophone and maybe even a good book to curl up with this fall!
Ingrid began her passion for French through the immersion program in Milton, MA, and has followed it around France and the world. She took a break from this first love to pursue a B.A. in English with a minor in Irish Studies at Boston College and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences at Simmons College. She is thrilled to meld her excitement for libraries and French language and culture in her position at the Center!