Spring events

With the days getting longer, the events calendar is filling up again.  Here is a selection of events which you might enjoy!  Please note – whilst I believe the information on this page to be correct at the time of publishing, I strongly recommend that you check with the organisers before attending an event.  If you want to visit the area and would like help in finding accommodation please head to www.midihideaways.com.   

Limoux Carnival – 2 January 2017 – 2 April 2017

The good people of Limoux take their carnival very seriously.  Different groups have the run of the central square every Saturday and Sunday during the carnival period.  It’s always an enjoyable festival to visit – I have previously written about it here, and you can find the full programme of this year’s events via this link.

Journees Europeennes des Metiers d´Art – 31 March – 2 April 2017

The European Artistic Craft Days are held every year on the first weekend in April.  They give the public a chance to see expert craft makers in action.  Last year I visited a workshop where verre mousseline is made – see for yourself here.  You can find the full programme of this year’s event on the official French website.

Canal du Midi Boat Show 2017, Capestang – 8 April 2017

Your chance to see a selection of the most beautiful hotel barges on the Canal du Midi.  The show lasts for several days and is aimed at tourism professionals, but on this date it is open to the general public.

Procession de la Sanch, Perpignan – 14 April 2017

Each year on Good Friday, the town of Perpignan hosts the traditional Good Friday Procession.  The custom dates back 600 years, and it is a deeply moving spectacle, the only one of its kind in France.

Tournoi de la Citadelle, Carcassonne – 15 and 16 April 2017

This will be the first time that Carcassonne will be hosting this tournament, where competitors fight one another in full armour, just like in the Middle Ages!  You can find details on this website.

Balade Geologique dans le Saint-Chinianais, Cebazan – 22 April 2017

The area around Saint-Chinian is a geologist’s dream – to the point where groups of geology students from some of the UK universities are sent here to do field work and projects.  This guided visit will be by bus and is followed by a lecture.  Details from tourist office in Capestang via this link.

Fete de Saint-Aphrodise, Beziers – 28 April 2017

On the occasion of the fete of the patron saint of Beziers, the Basilica of Saint Aphrodise will be open to the public.  Restoration work has been ongoing since I wrote about the church back in 2013, and I am looking forward to seeing the interim results!

Grande Deballage, Pezenas – 7 May 2017

This event is not to be missed if you are into flea markets and antiques.  There will be in excess of 150 stalls, selling all kinds of “stuff”!!

Les Sentiers Gourmands, Narbonne – 21 May 2017

For the 14th time in as many years, this gourmet walk has been organised across the vineyards of La Clape. The full details can be found on the offical website, and if you want a ‘taste’ of what such a gourmet walk can be like, read my post about one such walk in Saint-Jean-de-Minervois here.

Walking through the vineyards

Walking through the vineyards

Summer celebrations

By the time you get to read this post, the excitement of the past month will have abated a little!

Saint-Chinian has had a busy summer, packed with events!  Since the night markets were so successful last year, they were held each Tuesday throughout July and August.  There was music, food, and shopping, all in the main square, decorated with French flag bunting and coloured lights!

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The passing of the Tour de France through Saint-Chinian on July 13 was a day of great excitement for the village!  It took the same route as last time (in 2011).  First came the “Caravane”, a long line of all kinds of publicity vehicles!  They distributed all kinds of goodies: hats, bottled water, jelly beans, newspapers, shopping bags, pens – you name it.  All thrown at the bystanders!!

The cyclists came into the village along the Avenue de Villespassans, down the main street, and then they took a sharp right onto Avenue Raoul Bayou.  Luckily for us, the sharp turn slowed them down somewhat!! 😀

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And hot on the heels of the cyclists (excuse the pun) came Bastille Day!!  The national holiday celebrates the storming of the Bastille (a prison in Paris) on July 14, 1789, an important event of the French revolution, and also celebrates the Fete de la Federation, which took place on July 14, 1790, and which celebrated the unity of the French people.

In Paris there is a huge military parade, along with an impressive display of planes flying in formation overhead:

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And at night, the Eiffel Tower is lit up with the most amazing fireworks:

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But all over France, even the smallest villages ‘go to town’ and make the national holiday a festive event!  Look at how prettily the town hall in Saint-Chinian was decorated:

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The fireworks in Saint-Chinian are usually not be sniffed at either – they are pretty impressive!!

Unfortunately, this year’s fireworks in Saint-Chinan had to be postponed, due to very strong winds.  To everybody’s great distress, Bastille day ended in horror for the people of Nice and throughout France – next year it won’t feel the same.

After Bastille day came the Fete du Cru.  Since it was not really a celebration but a wine fair, it was deemed to be OK to go ahead during the mourning period for the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice.  As always, the market square had been lined with two rows of booths, and you could taste the wines on display simply by buying a glass at the booth by the entrance.  I’ve written about this great event a few years back.  You can read the post here.

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Did you go to any festivities this year?  What was your favourite?

Summer events

Summer is here at last, so here is an update to the page of upcoming events in and around Saint-Chinian:

Festival MusiSc, Saint-Chinian – 5 to 10 July 2106

Come and listen to one (or more) of the eight concerts, which are given in Saint-Chinian’s Abbatiale and the parish church. The programme is varied and offers a selection of different musical styles.  The festival opens with the children’s choir of Beziers Cathedral.  Amongst the concerts, there is an organ recital in the parish church, a tribute to Charles Trenet, a saxophone quartet playing jazz and more.  The full programme can be found on http://www.festivalmusisc.wordpress.com

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Jazz a Sete, Sete – 13 to 19 July 2016

This internationally renowned Jazz Festival takes place in Sete every year, and is a must for lovers of Jazz!  This year’s festival is headlined by Diana Krall (already sold out!), but there are tickets available for many of the other performers.  The concerts take place in the Theatre de la Mer, an open-air theatre with the sea as a backdrop.  Details can be found here.

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6eme Academie Musicale, Saint-Chinian – 16 to 23 July 2016

For the sixth time in as many years, Herve Hotier and Lauranne Chastal, with the collaboration of Pierre Courthiade, are running a week of classes for flute students.  A masterclass will be given by Juliette Hurel, 1st flute of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.  The week ends with a recital at 5pm on July 22, followed by a concert by the students at 7:30pm.

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Fete de l’Olivier, Bize-Minervois – 17 July 2016

This popular fete always coincides with the Fete du Cru in Saint-Chinian.  The theme is the olive and its cultivation, and there is usually a competition for the best tapenade, among other activities.  There will be lots of food to buy and eat there, and the atmosphere is always great!  You can read about my visit to this fete here.

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Marche des Potiers (pottery market), Saint-Pons-des-Thomieres – 23 and 24 July 2016

If you enjoy pottery then this event is for you – dozens of potters displaying their wares in the shade of plane trees!  I can always find something to buy at this kind of fair!! 😀

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Fete de St Louis, Sete – 18 to 23 August 2016

The Fete de St Louis celebrates Sete’s maritime heritage and its patron saint with six days of events.  There will be over 70 street performances, and there will be a big jousting tournamen.  The jousting is done on water and in boats!!

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Fete de la Chataigne, Saint-Pons-des-Thomieres – 29 and 30 October 2016

The chestnut festival in Saint-Pons-des-Thomieres is one of the biggest autumn festivals in the area.  It is well worth a visit, whether you like chestnuts or not!  I have visited this festival many times, and you can read my post about it here.

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If you want to attend any of these events and are in need of accommodation, just drop me a line or visit www.midihideaways.com 

So much more to do…

Here are some more events, which I have recently added to the list of upcoming events

Soapbox race, Saint-Chinian – 4 June 2016

This event promises to be great fun, if last year’s edition of the race was anything to go by!  Again the participants will be hurtling down the hill from the windmill to the market square, in their home-made contraptions!!

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Festival de Carcassonne, Carcassonne – 4 July to 1 August 2016

The Carcassonne festival is one of the biggest in the area, attracting stars such as Elton John (a few years ago) and Pharell Williams (this year).

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Nocturn’Art, Saint-Chinian – 26 July 2016

An evening dedicated to artistic creations of all types.  Last year, the event had a great variety of artists displaying their skills and creating works of art right in front of the visitors’ eyes.  This year’s event promises to be even better!

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Fete du Cassoulet, Castelnaudary – 24 to 28 August 2016

This must be heaven if you enjoy cassoulet!!  Five days of music and cassoulet – I am hoping to make it there this year – will I meet you there?  The official website can be found via this link.

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Open day at the cooperative winery, Saint-Chinian – 5 August 2016

This is your chance, if you have always wanted to know what these enormous wineries look like inside!  In the evening there will a communal meal and live music – it’s usually a fantastic evening!!  I’ve been many times and have written about it here.

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Fete de l’Ail Rose de Lautrec, Lautrec – 5 August 2016

This wonderfully “fragrant” fete is heaven for all lovers of garlic – hundreds of litres of delicious garlic soup is prepared and distributed to the visitors at lunchtime.  I’ve been to this fete a couple of times, and of course I have written about it!!  More information can be found on the official website here.

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Feria de Beziers, Beziers – 12 to 15 August 2016

Four days of partying in the centre of Beziers, and bull fights in the arena.  I’m OK with the partying, but not so sure about the bull fights…

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Fete du Fil, Labastide Rouairoux – 14 and 15 August 2016

This is the fete for all of you who sew, embroider, knit, or are otherwise into craft projects.  And if you’re not that way inclined, you may enjoy the visit to the textile museum – this year’s special exhibition features Japanese kimonos.  You can find my blog about a previous fete du fil here, and for the official website, please follow this link.

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Pottery market in Salleles d’Aude – 14 and 15 August 2016

You can combine a visit to this well-established pottery market with a visit to the Roman pottery museum, Amphoralis, just as I did a few years ago.  It’s fascinating to see what was produced with fairly limited means in Roman times, and what today’s potters have to offer.  Read about my visit here.

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Saint-Chinian’s preface to Brescudos Bike Week, Cap d’Agde – 29 August to 4 September 2016

A must for all lovers of motorbikes out there.  Hundreds of motorbikes and their riders will descend on Saint-Chinian on August 28, 2016.  There’ll be a competition for the “best dressed bike & rider”, and there’ll be lots of motorbike related paraphernalia.  Have a look at what happened in 2015.

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European heritage days, all over France and Europe – 17 and 18 September 2016

I’m sure there will be plenty of interesting things to do over that weekend!  Details of participating venues will be on the French Ministry of Culture website in due course.  I have written about events on the heritage weekend several times – you’ll find the posts here.

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And more to come…

Fouilles Paleontologique, Cruzy – 18 to 28 April 2016

This month sees the annual dig for dinosaur bones in Cruzy – I have written about the excavations and the museum exhibition here and here.  This is a great opportunity to get up close to the action!!

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Vide Jardin, Saint-Chinian – 23 April 2016 (9h – 17h)

This is the first of its kind in Saint-Chinian – a flea market with a garden theme!!  Bring your spare plants, the tools you no longer use and any other garden related stuff, and take a stall!  It should be very interesting – you’ll definitely see me there!!

Fete des Plantes et du Massif, Abbaye de Fontfroide – 30 April and 1 May 2016

Fontfroide Abbey has been hosting a plant festival for a good many years now.  The surroundings at the abbey are a magnificent setting for the festival, and it’s a great time to visit the rose garden.

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La Randonnee de Bacchus, Berlou – 15 May 2016

The Bacchus walk is similar to the Balade Gourmande in Saint-Jean-de-Minervois.  It is a well established event, and the website gives you a good idea of what’s in store, both for the walk and the food and wine!  I might sign up for it this year!!??

Fete de la Cerise, Ceret – 21 and 22 May 2016

This is a cherry festival which has great renown, but which I’ve not yet managed to visit – so much to do, so much to see, but maybe this year?  😀

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Open Day at La Petite Pepiniere, Caunes Minervois – 4 and 5 June 2016

A must for plant lovers and all of you who are interested in mediterranean gardening.  Gill Pound is an expert on the subject of gardening in dry climates, and her mature garden is looking spectacular at that time of year.  I’ve written about a previous visit to the open day here.

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Fete de la Cerise, Mons la Trivalle – 5 June 2016

This is a local cherry fair which I have visited a number of times over the years.  It’s another lovely occasion to get your fill of cherries.  You may even get to take some home, and make a wonderful cherry clafoutis (flancake)?

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Fete de la Musique, all over Europe – 21 June 2016

Don’t miss this wonderful celebration of music all over France.  It’s a great occasion to listen to all kinds of music – I’ve written about some of my experiences here and here.

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Fete de Saint-Pierre, Valras Plage – 26 to 28 June 2016

Once upon a time, Valras Plage was a little fishing village.  The Fete de Saint-Pierre celebrates that heritage with food, drink, music and jousting on water.  Read about it here.

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I have a list of other events, which I will gradually be adding – do you have any events you think I should list?

Still to come

Here are some more events, which have been added to the Upcoming Events page.

Fete du Cochon et du Terroir, Saint-Pons-de-Thomieres – 21 February 2016

Hurry up!  For those of you who are reading this in time and live close enough to take advantage of it, I think you would have a good time at this annual event in Saint-Pons, which I have visited on a number of occasions, and written about previously.  The format may have changed a little since my article, but I imagine that the fete will still be very enjoyable!

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Escale a Sete, Sete – 22 to 28 March 2016

Once again the tall ships will be mooring up at Sete for what promises to be an amazing week, celebrating the 350 years of the port of Sete.  I wrote about the tall ships in March 2014 – read the post here.   You can find information about this year’s programme via this link.

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Procession de la Sanch, Perpignan – 25 March 2016

Each year on Good Friday, the town of Perpignan hosts the traditional Good Friday Procession.  The custom dates back 600 years, and it is a deeply moving spectacle, the only one of its kind in France.

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Fete du Marbre, Caunes Minervois – 26 and 27 March 2016

The red marble from Caunes Minervois has been highly prized since Roman times.  The fete du marbre is a two day event of exhibitions, markets, guided visits and demonstrations, all to do with marble.  You can read my account of my last visit to the fete here.

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Fete des Mille et Une Pierres, Villespassans – 15 May 2016

This fete has been running each year since 2009, in this typical Languedoc village.  There’ll be an artisan market, a vide grenier (flea market), demonstrations such as sheep-shearing, as well as guided visits of the village and the surrounding countryside.  The day finishes with a concert by L’Art à Tatouille, an Occitan folk group that plays great music!

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Balade Gourmande en Saint-Jean-de-Minervois – 5 June 2016

For the third year running, the AOC Saint-Jean-de-Minervois is hosting a gourmet walk.  I enjoyed the walk last year, perhaps you will want to give it a try this year?  You’ll be able to find details on the AOC website later in the year.

A wonderfully fragrant spot

A wonderfully fragrant spot

Fete de la Cerise, Mons la Trivalle – 5 June 2016

This is a wonderful fete, which celebrates the bountiful cherry harvest.  I’ve been to this fete numerous times over the years, and have previously written about it here.  Don’t do what I did one year, and get there too late!  The cherries may be sold out!

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Vente de Charite, Saint-Chinian – 12 June 2016

The local Women’s International Club (WIC) will be holding its annual charity sale from 8:30 am to 13:30pm.  There’ll be all kinds of goodies for sale, including secondhand clothes, books, small household appliances, bric-a-brac, jewelery – you name it!  And as always there will be a plant stall too.

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Tour de France 2016 – 13 and 14 July 2016

On July 13, the cyclists of the Tour de France will be racing from Carcassonne to Montpellier – you’ll be able to see the details in due course on the official website.  Once again they will be passing through Saint-Chinian, making for a very exciting day!!  Here’s a post from when the Tour came through Saint-Chinian a few years ago!  On July 14, 2016, the Tour will go from Montpellier to Mont Ventoux.  This should be an interesting stage, as the cyclists have to climb more than 1300m in altitude!

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Fete de l’Ail Rose, Lautrec – 5 August 2016

This well-established fete is all about the pink garlic, for which the town of Lautrec is justly famous.  I’ve visited this fete several times, and you can read about one of my visits here.  The soupe a l’ail, the garlic soup which is served to all visitors, is absolutely delicious!  More details can be found on the official website at http://www.ailrosedelautrec.com .

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