Looking for a weekend autumn getaway? This one has something to please both the ladies and the gentlemen. Not only would an autumnal Avenue des Champs-Élysée be a gorgeously colorful and crisp stroll (stop for hot cocoa and crepes on the way), but on the weekend of October 11-13, Paris offers both a special wine event and vintage cars. Wine…cars…no-brainer. Pack your bags.
This year (2013), the Montmartre Wine Harvest Festival will be held from 9 – 12 October, a Wednesday through Sunday. The area of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement (or district) of Paris is home to la Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), a must-see landmark that presents breathtaking views of the entire city. There are also many markets in the area.
A historic district of wine production, Montmartre still has some small vineyards in the area, and the grape harvests of these vineyards are celebrated yearly at la Fête des Vendanges (wine harvest festival) with a series of exhibitions, activities, concerts and gastronomical pleasures of specialty artisan foods including cheeses, breads and chocolate. Wine-tasting is of course a key part of the celebrations, and since we all know France produces the best wines, this is not something to miss. The festivities will peak on the night of Saturday, October 12 at 9:45pm with a music and fireworks display. The theme for this year is L’Amour (Love), which makes this an even better couple’s getaway. The festival is family-friendly however, as there are many activities for children. This year is the 80th anniversary of the festival.
The Vintage Car Parade will journey through the heart of Paris, beginning at 10am at Place Joffre near the Ecole Militaire. Crossing the Seine, the parade will journey to the Trocadéro and can be viewed from Avenue Foch, the Arc de Triomphe, Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, Place Vendôme and Place de l’Opéra, all in the city center.
However, there is also a stationary exhibit just outside of Paris near Le Bourget Airport. Hosted by Automédon, the theme this year is Sport and GT and the main exhibitions of over 2,000 vehicles will be gathered at Le Bourget Exhibition Centre from 9:00am – 7:00pm, with concessions at 12euros for adults and free for children. You’ll see classic Vintage, Alpine, GT 50/70, and Rod Ford (33 and 34) plus the Big Blocks and Young Timers, and there will be motorcycles as well. Exhibitors will include dealers for parts and accessories, collector trades, recreational vehicles and more.
The Paris Autumn Festival will also be going on, which celebrates all contemporary arts in dance, opera, visual, literature, cinema, music and theatre.
We suggest arriving to Paris on the evening of Friday, October 11th to have a nice night-time stroll and dinner out. The Eiffel Tower must be seen at night as well as day, so take a walk around the area and enjoy the sparkling display of the tower on each hour. On Saturday, take the morning to visit the Louvre and walk down the Champs-Élysée. Once you near the Arc du Triomphe, have a luxury shop in Louis Vuitton, Chanel or any number of fabulous French perfumeries. Have lunch out to maximize your time and get in one or two other Paris sights you’d like to see. Head to Montmartre in the afternoon to get on your wine-tasting and harvest festivities and spend the evening at the festival to catch the fireworks display in the evening. Sunday, of course, can be dedicated to the Vintage Car Parade and/or Exhibition at Le Bourget. Take a train back in the evening and share one of the bottles of French wine you brought back in the evening in the cozy comfort of your home.