Whether you want to take a voyage through France's vineyards thanks to the numerous Salons de Vignerons (throughout the country in March), sampling the finest vintages, or browse the huge range of produce on display at the famous Foire de Lyon (18-28 March), there will be something guaranteed to tickle any Francophile foodie's taste-buds this season.
Only in Paris
Wine aficionados should make time for “Le Salon du vin de La Revue du vin de France” (20-21 May), where one can taste before investing. Introducing great vintages, meeting with winemakers and educating the buyer as to the best bottles, this fair run by the country’s first wine magazine invites 250 highly respected ‘domaines’ to show off their wares. Also in Paris this May, the “Foire de Paris” covering the 'Home and the Environment', 'Well-being and Leisure' and 'Cultures of the World' at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Arena will enlighten amateurs about all sorts of produce including wines and foods from across the world with everything from ‘molecular gastronomy’ to “insect-flour” cakes on show. Another foodie event?
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Snails, Scallops & St Emilion
© Einalem - Flickr
Head to Osenbach in Alsace for something different... The Snail Fair (29-30 April) celebrates the famous ‘escargot’, but with a twist - cooked Alsace-style. Fear not – the recipe still features plenty of garlic. Bizarrely there is also a traditional snail racing event, including betting. If you prefer seafood, the “Fête de la Coquille Saint Jacques” in Saint Quay Portrieux in Brittany allows you to discover the beauties of the Emerald Coast, take fishing trips or simply sample the fresh scallops (23-26 April). In St Emilion, the Spring Festival (25-26 May) celebrates the local Bordeaux red wines with a parade in town and plenty of opportunities for tastings.
© Sunny Ripert - Flickr
Cheese lovers can roam the country far and wide to find the best of the board any day, but in Spring the country celebrates its best cheeses. In Normandy, the Festival of AOC products is all about the area’s “Appellation d'Origine Controllé” produce, or authentic goods to the area, such as the Camembert in Calvados (first weekend in May). For the finest goat’s cheese, try the “Fête du Crottin de Chavignol” (end of April) in the Caves de la Mignonne at Sancerre, while in Pailherols in the Cantal region in Auvergne, the cheese festival comes with its own market, tractors and cow parade. It’s also a must for fans of St Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert and Bleu d'Auvergne.
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Best of Burgundy
Chablis © Anna & Michal - Flickr
Springtime in Burgundy is busy. On the agenda, the "Fleurs de Vignes" Grand Festival in Auxerre (celebrated every two years on the third Sunday of May) sees over 100 wine-growers and merchants from Chablis and the area presenting their wine. Don’t miss the ‘aroma cellar’ and the 'Introduction to tasting' workshops for the full experience. In Marsannay, the "Oenofolies" sees the ‘Fete du vin Rose’ on June 8th, a big event for Marsannay’s only Rose (it’s best known for its reds and whites), so discover the rosé, indulge in the gastronomic buffet, and enjoy the party. In Yonne, stop by the wine and flower market, while in Migé, Coulanges-la-Vineuse and Jussy all host Wine Cellar Open Days in the Coulangeois vineyards during the Springtime. Later on in the year, it’s worth noting the “Festival du Chablisien" celebrations from 5 June and, in July, the festival in Pauillac, a small village and port reputed for its Bordeaux wines and lamb rearing.
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© Fried Dough - Flickr
Lille’s Festival of Flavours is a three-day culinary extravaganza, to discover the local confectionery, cheese, beer and coffee. They also celebrate the famous ‘Golden Ladle’, with a soup at La Louche d'Or in the Wazemmes quarter. In Marseille, don’t miss the garlic festival “Aux Taraïettes," while in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, in Correze, Limousin it’s all about the strawberries, with its sweet “Fete de la Fraise” with competitions, huge strawberry tarts and even a parade.