The annual fête de vin or wine festival in Carcassonne is not to be missed. Tourists come specifically for this event and locals come to have a fun evening or two and try the different wines from the areas represented. The location of this particular festival is located in the center of town, Place carnot. There are cafés one each side of the square but during the hours of the event, they limit what is on offer.
In the photo above, the first band of the evening is warming up their instruments and the crowds. Being France, it isn’t long before the dancing begins. The vendors are setting opening bottles and setting up the dishes they will offer. Each vendor will have foods that are best served with the wines they have for sale. One vendor specialises in desert wines and has several decadent deserts available. Glasses of wine to try are normal serving size and available for between one and two euros per glass.
At intervals around the vendors stalls you will find large covered wine barrels that serve as bars or counter space where groups of people can gather around and enjoy their drinks and food. Once the festival gets going it quickly gets crowded and navigating can be a bit challenging but worth it.
Some carried a light wrap for the evening but we were fortunate and didn’t need them. The weather was glorious and we sat in the square at Chez Felix, a favourite café. Even with most of the square’s cafés staying open, seating was at a premium so our group of four would take turns looking for a wine and food to try. We each found different wines and foods and sampled and shared. It was a great evening.
Recently, I attended a wedding in my village. The couple are the owners of our local café and have become friends in the short time they have lived here.
The grand salon at the maire (Mayor’s office) is where all marriages take place in this village. The only official marriage recognised in France is the civil ceremony. If a couple chooses they can arrange to have a celebration in a religious venue but it has no legal bearing. Each village has a maire and would have a room or office where the ceremony would take place.
Here is the happy couple, Audrey and Loic with their two witnesses Christiane and her husband Henri.
Weddings are usually held on Saturdays or Wednesdays and begin a 4:00pm. For the most part, they are very casual and brief. The room is not conducive to a large crowd. The couple must have two witnesses and on this occasion, we were a group of about fifteen including the Bride and Groom.
In the center of the group you might notice the three boys. The youngest, Mateo, in the middle are the children of Audrey and Loic.
Now we are off to their café to toast Audrey and Loic and their happiness!
A few regular’s came by the celebration and joined in.
In this post, I have decided to let the pictures do the talking. I hope you have enjoyed the wedding!
In France, café culture dates back centuries. They have always been a gathering place for the intellectuals where they frequently engaged in philosophical debates. The Avant Guarde would come to display their work and artists and writers were often exchange ideas and/or to drown their sorrows. From the French Revolution to the French Resistance, the freedom fighters would congregate at cafés to formulate their plan of action. In Paris you may still have a drink at such places as Les Deux Magots where such figures as Picasso and Hemingway were known to frequent to Les Deux Garçons in Aix-en-Provence which was a favorite of Cézanne.
Café culture still thrives in France. Not just the trendy cafés of Paris but everywhere in France. Even many of the smallest villages have their own cafés. The locals still gather to have a café, glass of wine or beer with family, friends and neighbours. The tourists flock to the cafés to absorb the atmosphere, quench their thirst and often for information. Many cafés serve meals or sandwiches. There is almost always both indoor and outdoor seating.
Our village café closed on 15 June 2013 and re-opened last weekend, 7 June 2014 with new owners. As you can see in the photos, Loic and Audrey along with their three children are a welcome addition to the community. They have plans to introduce a small menu of homemade fare soon. We look forward to getting to know them better and the multitude of cyclists, backpackers and others visiting our village will be assured of a welcoming respite, a refreshing beverage and friendly locals.