The wine fair in Cagnes-sur-Mer

November 13, 2007

This fair used to be called the Salon des Vignerons. Twice a year small winemakers from all over France would set up their tasting stands at the horseracing track of Cagnes-sur-Mer, west of Nice. Now in its sixteenth year they have been joined by so many producers of other good things to eat that the name has been changed to the Salon du Palais Gourmand. The fair is always for four days over the long weekends of May 1 and November 11.  

Linda and I arrived on Friday November 9, 2007, just as the doors opened at 10:00. The crowds quickly filled the aisles and it had became hard to move around by the time we left at 11:30.
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Wine is still the main attraction.

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In the Alpes Maritimes, our department of France, there are three wine districts:  

Bellet is its own Appellation Controllée. Wine has been grown in these hills just northwest of Nice for over two thousand years. Three Bellet vineyards sell here at the fair; the most prestigious of these is the Château de Crémat.
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The Cistercian monks of the Abbaye de Lérins have been expanding and improving its vineyards and winemaking to help support their vocation. This island monastery, a short boat ride from Cannes, has a sixteen-century history; it once was the temporal power over much of the area, but is now confined to the smaller of the two offshore islands. Volunteers staff its stand it the fair. Here Linda chats with one of them and places her order.

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Clos Saint Joseph in a small microclimate north of Nice is the third local wine. It is not at the fair as it is only sold at the vineyard and through local restaurants and wine stores. 

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We usually buy our champagne from Collard-Picard, but their new fancy stand was mobbed and we didn’t feel like waiting.

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We always buy from Alain and Christiane Patriarche, a vigneron in Meursault, one of the great white wine districts of Burgundy.

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Linda is placing our order with the Domaine Dupont Tisserandot, Propriétaire-Viticulteur at Gevrey-Chambertin, the great red wine district at the north of Burgundy. You can see the red two-wheeled handcart we will use to take our cartons outside to our car.

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There are cognacs, armagnacs, marcs etc.

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She looks familiar.

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It’s Nick and Stephanie! 

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Charcuterie: hams, sausages, rillettes, cheeses etc are sold in many stands, frequently by charcutiers wearing Basque or Savoyarde dress.

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When we get hungry or need to clear the palate, we go to one of the sandwich stands. Here you can see Linda buying a luscious foie gras sandwich. nk.jpg

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The big loaves of country bread stay fresh longer than the one-day life of a French baguette.

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There are mustards, honey, prunes, spices, soaps.

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There are many types of chocolates, meringues, desserts etc. Armagnac cream pies are special.

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Freshly roasted coffee beans are available at the coffee bar.

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There are centerpieces for sale by the artiste.

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There are several small restaurants at the fair. The most popular one has fresh oysters for tasting with wines of the Loire Valley or Alsace.

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The chestnut roaster’s oven has to be outside.

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The two big inside halls are reserved for people selling their own products, but outside there are vendors of almost anything.

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We wheeled our purchases outside and put them in the trunk of our car on the way to our wine cellar. 

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