Monsieur Jacques Mélac is so enthused about wine (and so Averyonais) that water in his bistrot is...payant. He proudly displays this sign :
The water here is reserved for cooking the potatoes!
Les vendanges de Chateau Charonne (the harvest) is like la fête au village that is so rare in urban Paris. Monsieur Mélac brings a little taste of la compagne (the countryside) that all Parisians miss deep down inside. They can't imagine actually living there, but the spirit of neighbors who know each other, big tables with fragrant bread and endless bottles of vin rouge, perhaps an accordion in the background, is rooted in their culture. They probably visited their grandparents à la compagne for summer vacation as children, and Monsieur Mélac brings all those memories flooding back.
Mélac and his crew set up tables all down rue Léon Frot and rue Emile Lepeu - 1450 people came to celebrate les vendanges!
Bottles of last year's harvest are sold for 8 Euros - or a glass for 2 Euros
For 8 Euros you could choose from a heaping plate of fromage and bread, a heaping plate of charcuterie (meats) and bread or a heaping plate of aligot and saucisse!
The folks in the retirement home on rue Léon Frot take in the music, dancing and fun from their window sills
Michou, an old cabaret singer from Montmartre, was the big star of the event! He made his grand entrance in full cabaret garb!
Girls who are "pure of heart" are chosen to harvest the grapes on the Mélac bistrot facade...
The grapes are ready!
Monsieur Jacques Mélac himself!
The kids jump in the barrels and crush the newly harvested grapes - grape juice everywhere!
Then it was time for the tombola (the raffle) - bottles of last year's harvest, a cabaret dinner with Michou, and the BIG PRIZE - 400 bouillotes (hot water bottles!) Fortunately, the winner shared her loot with everyone. Needless to say, the Frenchies all wanted a bouillote...not because they needed one, but because - you guessed it- it was FREE!
Last year the prize was 200 rolls of toilet paper, and the year before that, a pig!
I'll be making Les Vendanges my yearly tradition - you can't go wrong with dancing, grape picking, good food, good people, Monsieur Mélac...and 400 bouillotes.