As the summer draws to a close, the days get colder and the leaves begin to turn that gorgeous shade of auburn, we are left daydreaming of Autumnal days and all the wonderful traditions that France offers over the channel. Many adorable traditions and quirky events spring to mind when we think about France in Autumn, from vineyard trips to La Toussaint. We’ve pulled together a small collection with our top 5 French Autumn Traditions…
Le Festival d’Automne à Paris and Nuit Blanche
If there is one thing the French are good at, besides perfect pastries and patisseries, cosy coffee shops, jaw dropping monuments and fine wine, its art. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Autumn sees the beginning of one of the largest art festivals, hosted in Paris. Also known as The Paris Autumn festival, Le Festival d’Automne à Paris is a four-month-long event that celebrates the finest of Paris’ contemporary art collections. It begins on the first Saturday of October with ‘Nuit Blanche’ – where museums, art galleries and many other creative institutions are open for free; and restaurants, public transport and bars stay open all night. Artists come from all over the world to express themselves through theatre, dance, art, sculpture and many more.
On the subject of celebration, there is no better celebration to have than that of wine (or with wine!). France is known for its famous wines (and Champagne of course!) and on the third Thursday of November every year, they celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau day. Celebrated across the country, Beaujolais Nouveau is wine from Beaujolais and is the first to be created after the seasons harvest – we’ll raise a toast to that!
While Beaujolais Nouveau day may be celebrating the first wine after the harvest, in regions such as Champagne, Provence and Aquitaine, the highlight of the year is the harvest itself – known as Les Vendanges. Every year, Les Vendanges sees thousands of people volunteer in the wine harvest, in return for a meal and a place to stay. Paris visitors can witness the La Fête des vendanges de Montmartre, which invites them to climb up to the Butte Montmartre and embark on a Parcours du Goût(a tasting trail), which includes a delicious sample the fine wines and delicious food that France has to offer - delightful.
Alongside the wine festivals, many organise their own harvest festivals. The Collobrières Chestnut Festival takes place in the Var village of Collobrières, which is regarded the chestnut capital of the world. The festival allows visitors to taste and buy chestnuts in every shape and form, don’t worry though, these can all be washed down with the newly made wine of the year.
Although it may sound unusual, mushroom foraging is a beloved French Autumn tradition and one in which they are very passionate about. If you’re in France in Autumn, pull your wellies on and get foraging – you’ll have to be early before they all go though, it gets very competitive!
Return from the alpine pastures
The return from the alpine pastures is, well, exactly that. The festival celebrates the beginning of the Autumn season, with cows and sheep being herded back down to the valley before the winter begins. Annecy in the Alps hosts a celebration, consisting of a parade of all farm animals. The cows are particularly spectacular, dressed in ribbons, flowers and bells. Alongside the parade, the festival sees folklore bands, demonstrations of old manual trades, tasting of local produce and much more. A very traditional Autumn activity to take part in.
This isn’t all France has to offer though, there are many other spectacular traditions that take place in Autumn – and all year round for that matter.