What is a vendanges? Well, having taken french many years ago, I’m fairly certain this was one of those words that we never learnt, and Mrs. Heft, if you’re reading this, and you taught me the word and I don’t remember, well excuser-moi (and if that’s spelt wrong, sorry once again…).
Anyhow, vendanges actually means harvest (or close enough), and every year our neighbourhood of Montmartre has a harvest festival. Producers from all over France and even a few from such far away paradises as “Quebec” come to show off what their little corner of the globe can grow (for Quebec it was tree sap of course…at least it wasn’t asbestos). On top of the “butte” or hill of Montmartre, they have hundreds of tents set up from the different growers and regions and you can sample their goods. It’s mostly wine/cheese, but there was some other kinds of foods and drinks as well.
The best part of the festival is the parade, probably the only one in the entire world who’s entire route is uphill…. those poor tuba players. In the parade were many marching bands (one band had alp horns, although they didn’t play them during the parade, sort of like playing the cello in a marching band…) as well as farmers wearing traditional clothes from the regions they came from (no no one was wearing a Nordiques jersey…). Many of the regions were of course celebrating the grape harvest and they had bottles and bottles of wine which they were using to refill the glasses of everyone along the parade route (I should have mentioned that before the parade got started, people walked the route handing out glasses…). The number of laws this would have broken in Canada is incredible… While it seems incredible that they gave out free booze (and lots of it), one of the regions is famous for it’s lamb, and this poor guy actually pushed a barbecue along the entire (uphill) parade route, while his lucky buddy had the task of simply flipping the kabobs that were grilling away. Every once in a while they dish up some meat to the crowd.
The entire festival wrapped up with some spectacular fireworks, which by that time, most of the neighbourhood was thoroughly sauced on all the free wine, not a good thing where most streets involve at least a flight of stairs…