Across France, once humble local gatherings held for the purpose of attracting people to the market or celebrating harvests have grown into veritable gourmet extravaganzas. From the somewhat weird to the utterly wonderful, here is our pick of unmissable food festivals in France.
Lemons in Menton
The perfect way to banish the winter blues. La Fête du Citron in the stunning city of Menton in the sunny French Riviera attracts more than 150,000 people every February. With a parade of huge floats up to 10-meters tall, decorated with more than 140 tons of lemons and oranges, the festivities include music, a ‘garden of light’ and delicious local and international specialties.
Strawberries in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne
La Fête de la Fraise takes place every year on the second Sunday in May. The local bakers get together to produce a gigantic strawberry tart, measuring eight meters in diameter and requiring around 400kg of the fruit. There’s a strawberry market, plus entertainment and music that makes it a really fun day for all ages.
Fantastic Picnic in Dijon
Dijon has a special place in French gastronomy as a hub for all that is anchored in the land and authentic. It all comes together in September for the Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon, a celebration of food and drink with an invitation to a foreign culinary culture as a special guest each year. More than 8000 people also gather around for a Fantastic Picnic organized throughout the entire Burgundy region to share an al fresco meal in unusual places like the middle of a vineyard or the grounds of a historic chateau.
Truffles in Sarlat
Every year in mid-January, the producers of truffles in the Périgord Noir serve up a weekend-long truffle extravaganza. The city of Sarlat plays host to a popular series of tastings and events around the celebrated and pricey mushroom, including workshops on truffle identification and truffle-hunting demonstrations with trained dogs.
Chocolate in Paris
The Salon du Chocolat is the world’s most prominent event dedicated entirely to chocolate. Professionals and visitors mingle among stands from the most prestigious chocolate brands in the world. A full program of fun entertainment and delicious tasting includes a fashion show where all creation the models are wearing on the catwalk are — incredibly — made of chocolate.
Cherries in the Pyrénées
There are cherry festivals in different towns and villages in Alsace and Île-de-France, but perhaps the best known is the Fête de la Cerise in Ceret, in the Pyrénées Orientales department. This is a region known for fruit production and every year it is a tradition to send the first cherries of the season to the president. For two days in May the town becomes alight with cherry-centered gourmet festivities.
Plumbs in Metz
The sweet Mirabelle yellow plumb is ubiquitous in eastern France and makes an appearance in everything from delicious jams, tarts, and sauces, as well as the highly fortifying eau-de-vie. The fruit has been grown locally in the Metz region for centuries and every August since 1947 the Mirabelle Plum Festival brings people out into the streets for concerts, dances, tastings and the crowning of the Mirabelle Queen.
Wine in Bordeaux
Every two years, the city of Bordeaux goes all out for a huge wine festival in summer. A 2km wine route offers tastings and workshops, barrel races and other zany entertainment fills the wide promenade along the river. Meanwhile, pavilions feature 80 appellations from Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region, including the most recognizable wine brands in the world.
Wine in Burgundy
For more than 70 years the Saint-Vincent Tournante has been toasting the different cru wines and terroirs of Burgundy through tasting sessions and traditional ceremonies. Each year in January a different wine-producing town or village takes turns to play host to the Brotherhoods of Burgundy, the keepers of the know-how, who come together in a formal procession to officially open the two days of food and wine-centered events.
Epicurean creations in Bordeaux
Bordeaux So Good is a tantalizing three-day fair that highlights gourmet food and French art de vivre. Professional chefs get creative with local products preparing adventurous creations in different iconic heritage sites around the city.
…and a party all around France!
During three days in September the entire country celebrates everything foodie for the Fête de la Gastronomie national festival — an opportunity to tie all these fantastic culinary experiences together. From special events in schools to fascinating cooking demonstrations, pro and amateur competitions and one-off tastings in the most renowned restaurants, there are more than 3,000 events in every corner of the hexagone.