As will have been apparent to anyone who reads these blogs – and there seem to be an increasing number of you – our village is still feels that it’s life is focused on the many vineyards. So it’s not surprising that there is a festival to celebrate the first wine of the year (think Nouveau Beaujolais without the Beaujolais and the hype). This occurs on the third Sunday in November and we seem to have decided to go every two years. (We have prior commitments on Sunday.) It’s fascinating for all sorts of reasons, but one of them is historical. The Romans grew vines in the area and the fact that Bacchus is wheeled around in the parade hints that something along these lines has been going on here for two millennia at least.
After an unseasonably wet six to eight weeks, there was an enormous sigh of relief when this Sunday was bright and cloud-free. A lot of people in the village assembled, along with the curious from the surrounding countryside for the celebration: Taradeau’s reputation as the Rosé village is widely known. Essentially there are two parts: the parade of old agricultural vehicles and the wine fraternities, headed by a small
Provençal band. This leads up to a grand assembly outside the Vignerons du Taradeau where after a speech thanking everyone and everything, the mayor and people on the platform try the new wine and – hopefully – pronounce it good.
This year, in the best south of France agricultural tradition, the parade got off to a belated and hesitant (if good-natured) start and there were a number of pauses while some of the more vintage vehicles broke down. Next week we’ll show you some photos of the wine tasting and the speech-making but this week let’s stick with photos of the procession.
Two observations. The first is that as Taradeau increasingly becomes a dormitory village for the sprawling conurbations of the coast, its roots in the agricultural world become less and less. Increasingly one senses that the Festival is a preservation and celebration of a past way of life rather than a celebration of a present one.
Second observation: if you’ve been following the French news you’ll realise that there have been enormous protests over the price of fuel and, a linked matter, the perceived aloofness of M. Macron and his cabinet from ordinary people. During the parade one of the tractors stalled and the mayor, in his regalia, ran forward to give it a hearty push.
Perhaps M. Macron might take note.