So it’s the week after the Beaujolais wines were released and Montpellier is having a big wine festival to celebrate not just this wine but many different types. I had been recommended the festival by my host family and the staff at the ILA French Immersion School in Montpellier who are always recommending these great events so you can experience the culture and practice what you have learnt in your language studies.
Centre of Montpellier is Full of French Students and Natives
The wine festival was taking place right in the centre of Montpellier very near to my French language school. Just off the ‘Place de la Comedie’ there was a long stretch of rustic wooden cabins stretching the entire boulevard, the wine festival was big but only utilised half off the cabins. When I asked why I found out that the cabins had primarily been used for the Christmas market and that one year they decided to sneak in a wine festival before the vendors set up they festive gear. So a tradition was born. The Christmas Market was also recommended by my French Language School in France.
I went with another one of the French students at my immersion school; Malin, a German girl from Frankfurt whose mother owned a wine shop so she had a keen interest in wine. Also she was a serious photographer so she wanted to take some pictures and she was going to help me with mine. The strip was free to get into so if you did just want to come look around you were more than welcome but we wanted to get involved. You could buy 3 tokens and an empty glass at a couple of the first stands for 3 euros. Each token allowed us to try all of the wines at one station and most of them had 8-10 wines for us to try. When you think about that and the fact that you can have a chat with each producer and learn all about the wines it is incredible value. We tried almost 30 wines for 3 euros and although the samples weren’t huge its hard not to get value for money here. We also heard that a large chunk of the proceeds were going to charity and as we are here to learn French in France and this was a great opportunity to practice it was the best 3 euros I’ve ever spent.
Some of the Incredible Wines of France
As you would expect many of the wines were from regions around Montpellier. We had learnt a bit about the regions in the business French modules on the immersion course and I will go into more detail about these fantastic regions in another article. The first wines we tried were a mixture of reds and whites from ‘Pic St Loup’. The lovely rep was called Robert and was originally from Dijon. Even at the end of a 10 hour day he was still happy and friendly and more than willing to go into detail about each wine we tried. Although he spoke perfect English he asked why we were in France and we told him we were trying to learn French at an French immersion school in Montpellier and he switched back over to French. He was very kind and listened patiently as we experimented with whatever grammatical things we’d learnt that day.
After this we visited another 2 cabins and each vendor was as friendly as the next and some of them didn’t speak English so we had to communicate in French but that is the point behind a French immersion language stay. We mainly went from tasting white to red and light to full boddied and in between the visits we made a quick detour to the cheese and charcuterie stands that were wafting gorgeous smells right in our direction.
After we had drunk and eaten our fill we headed off into the ‘Place de la Comedie’ which was beautifully lit up on this fresh night. It was a lovely hearty evening and if you are here learning French in Montpellier and want to see more of the culture than you must visit this event. It is spread over 4 days so you will be able to find an evening that doesn’t make you too groggy for your French immersion course the next day. This is great fun but also gives you the opportunity to practice your French studies with the native wine makers.