Must-visit French winter food festivals
Sample wonderful French gastronomy at one of these fantastic winter food festivals
Fête de la Truffe, Lalbenque
The town of Lalbenque in Hautes-Pyrénées hosts its very own two-day truffle festival each year at the end of January. A truffle competition is held on the Saturday and Sunday mornings while come lunchtime visitors can be tucking in to a range of truffle-flavoured dishes in local restaurants or purchasing truffle gifts at the local market. The real highlight is in the afternoon when truffle enthusiasts can go on their very own truffle hunt with both dogs and pigs.
Fiera di a Castagnain Bocognano, Corsica
There are few winter treats as festive (or tasty) as chestnuts, and the Fiera di a Castagnain Bocognano, Corsica from 9-11 December is the perfect excuse to stock up on these seasonal snacks. Founded in 1982, the fair is the biggest agricultural event of its kind in Corsica and is attendedby over 150 exhibitors. In addition to chestnuts, visitors can also feast on cheese, (including the Corsician speciality, brocciu) pastries, hazelnuts, honey, wine and beers. Musical performances, Corsican literature and an artisanal craft market also add to the festive merriment.
Fête du Citron, Menton
This winter the pretty, pastel-hued Mediterranean town of Menton will again be bathed in glorious colours as more than 250,000 visitors revel in the Fête du Citron. The annual festival, being held from 11 February to 1 March, was launched in 1929 to celebrate Menton’s success as a citrus fruit producer in the balmy climate of the Côte d’Azur and has grown into a world-famous event. Floral processions take place along the Promenade du Soleil, both during the day and at night, with huge floats being joined by dancers and brass bands to create a spectacular show. In the nearby Jardin Biovès, visitors can see displays of soaring citrus-clad sculptures, which produce dazzling shades of orange and yellow during the evening light displays.
Foire au Jambon, Bayonne
Despite being less well-known than the Parma variety, the jambon de Bayonne is a delicious, salt-cured piece of charcuterie for which the town is famous across France. This special type of ham is so popular that it has its own annual fair, which takes place in the last week of March in the centre of Bayonne. The festival lasts for four days with highlights including jambon de Bayonne tastings, competitions between local ham producers and plenty of music and traditional dancing.
Bouche à Bouche, Paris
This festival translates as ‘from mouth to mouth’ and is an intriguing mix of DJ set music and delicious food. Founded only two years ago in Paris, the festival, which takes place in mid-January, welcomes thousands of young people passionate about modern music and food. Entry to the event is free of charge and delicious plates of French cuisine start from as little as €7.50. One of this festival’s main draws is the different food workshops that take place with renowned chefs from across France.
Les Gastronomades, Angoulême
Foodies will love Les Gastronomades in Angoulême, Charente! The weekend is dedicated to the local produce of the area and cooking, with debates, cooking lessons, culinary demonstrations and cooking contests tempting 100,000 visitors. With a particular focus on how our food gets from the field to the plate, the plentiful tastings of homemade products are the freshest around.
Fête de la Truffe, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne
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If you’ve ever wondered what the French fascination is with truffles, then the Fête de la Truffe in the Dordogne village of Sarlat-la-Canéda is the event for you. For a weekend in January, chefs, truffle-hunters, gourmands and the generally curious gather in celebration of this knobbly ‘black gold’. Cookery presentations reveal how to create delicious dishes using truffles, and truffle-hunting demonstrations with trained dogs take place regularly to explain how these weird and wonderful fungi are found. Workshops are also being held to help you identify truffles and assess their quality.
Fête de l’Alicoque, Nyons
The successful completeion of the olive harvest is celebrated in Nyons at the Fête de l’Alicoque, which is held on the first weekend in February. The event is hosted by the Chevaliers de l’Olivier and visitors can enjoy the first of the year’s new olive oil. Large tables are set up on the Place des Arcafes where there is a free tasting of the oil, which is drizzled over croutons rubbed in garlic.
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