It is hard to beat a visit to a French vineyard.  But when you cannot make it to the vineyard, do not despair because the vineyard will come to you in Paris several times a year.  And this coming weekend there’s another one.  From Friday, September 9 through Monday, September 12, one of my favorite fairs, the Salon Mer & Vigne & Gastronomie will set up at the at Parc Floral in Vincennes.  Generally, admission is €4 per person, but if you click here you can download an invitation for free entrance (one invitation works for two people).

Two of my favorites, a rosé and a red, that I restock at every Salon Mer & Vigne & Gastronomie.
Each bottle is under €10.

You will have plenty of opportunities for wine-tasting (dégustation de vin), but the fairs also offer more than just wine.  The hundreds of little kiosks offer all sorts of produits du terroir (roughly translated as “local products”) such as cheeses, sausages, foie gras, olive oils, soaps, macarons and much more.  And there are always two or three areas where you can buy something to eat and sit down if you get hungry or need a break from wandering the aisles.

One of the highlights of the wine fairs is having the opportunity to talk with the winemakers.  The vignerons in France are not the huge commercial outfits that you often see in California wine production, for example.  Instead, they are usually family-run businesses and the person running the kiosk at the wine fair is most likely the owner of the vineyard, the marketing director and the person who tends the vines and makes and bottles the wine.  I have found the majority of the vendors to be exceptionally friendly.  While you sip away at your tastings, you can learn about the region the particular wine is from and find answers to all your questions about wine-making.  Yes, drinking wine can be an educational experience!

To get to Parc Floral, just take the Metro Line 1 east to the very last stop, Château de Vincennes.  From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the expo center, or take one of the free navettes (shuttle buses).  After several uncomfortable experiences lugging back more bottles than I could carry, I now bring a small rolling suitcase with me to all the fairs.  Some vendors will deliver cases on request and some wine fairs will have delivery services available for a fee.

The Salon Mer & Vigne & Gastronomie also visits Parc Floral in March of every year.  Other wine fairs in Paris include the somewhat overwhelmingly large Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendents (November 24 – 28, 2011) at Porte de Versailles and the more manageable Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendents (March 2012) at Porte de Champerret.  Click here for a full list of wine fairs across France in the upcoming months.

Don’t forget that rolling suitcase!

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