Why France is the Perfect Fall Getaway for Foodies
I’ve been to the veal, turkey, and ham festivals these past few fall. I missed others dedicated to squash, beans, oysters, andouillette, oysters, cod and many more. I also missed a lot of wine and drink festivals. Considering how many I managed to attend, that’s just as good. The biggest of these October and November wine festivals is the Sarmentelles in Beaujeu, to welcome the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau, from 16 to 20 November. And if, incidentally, you think you’re too sophisticated for new wines, you’ve completely missed their point.
Other wine events involve walks through the vineyards, outdoor tastings, and fine dining outdoors. If you are in a wine region, there is bound to be one near you, so check with the local tourist offices. And if you are in the Cévennes on October 30, head for Domaine Quartier Lander in Bagard, near Alès. The Fête des Vignes Réboussières offers the best local wines, gastronomy and music with a 3 km stroll through the vineyards, to be tasted as you go. It’s a crisp Sunday, which I never miss. (Book at tourismegard.com; £12. Full disclosure: The event is hosted by my son. There can’t be a higher recommendation.)
That said, fall isn’t just about wine. It is also the time for the distillation of spirits such as calvados, cognac and, above all, armagnac in Gascony. Gascons are hardwired for tough times, berets and festivities. Thus the distillation season from October 13 to the end of January is punctuated by festivals throughout the region under the title La Flamme de l’Armagnac.
To do so, head to the Château de Millet near Eauze in the Gers. In a landscape of sunny certainties, Laurence Dèche and her family not only make terrific wines and Armagnacs but also set up lodging in a gîte (two nights for six people, £242) and, on certain days between November 20 and November 28, a series of meals in the distillery for £26, wine and Armagnac included. Consult chateaudemillet.com, then book on 00 33 05 62 09 87 91 (but be careful, places sell out quickly). You will be among about 80 others. Fall, I promise you, rarely gets better.
Here are the top five places foodies should visit in France this fall.
Autumn in Provence is a radiant, softer light and warmth that sparkles with old stones, older landscapes and food festivals aplenty. Around the sentinel of Mont Ventoux – both punishment for cyclists and surveillance of western Provence like an irascible former – the Ventoux Saveurs festival takes turns celebrating gastronomy in towns and villages, from September 10 to November 5. vineyards, markets, music, dance and restaurants (parcduventoux.fr).