VOL. 10 NO. 4
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
Paris! ~ A
"Great Vintage from a Small Mountain"
by Arthur Gillette
photos by Jeff Berner
Ici et Là
from Occupied France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
the vendanges (grape harvests) are possibly France’s supreme Bacchic
experience. I decided not to miss the 2006 edition and took myself to a
friendly little vineyard not too far from my suburban Parisian home.
It boasts but a rather modest 1,700 vines strung out over only some 1,500
square yards and producing a mere 450 liters of red (Gamay, Pinot Noir…)
and white (Sauvignon, Riesling…) per year.
The appointed day arrived and, on the face of it, the harvest looked pretty run of the mill, replicating similar activity wherever French wine is produced. With a stark blue sky above from which shone an autumn-cooled sun, the team of pickers worked their orderly way along the vines, looking like a row of pistons by turns bending to pull and snip some grape bunches, thereafter deposited in wooden buckets, then straightening up to move to and bend over the next vine.
But that was just the 'face of it'. In reality, this was an exceptional vineyard and vendange indeed! First, the hillside, on which the pickers labored, sloped due north, anathema to vintners almost anywhere else in France. Secondly, the harvest was observed from behind the plot’s chain link fences by a large crowd of people, some dressed in peasant and/or medieval garb. Thirdly, the vineyard was surrounded by four- and five-story apartment houses; from a window of one (an Art Déco jewel) a diapered baby waved to and gurgled at the pickers.
Was I dreaming? No. This was the annual grape harvest at the Clos Montmartre, a tiny vineyard atop Paris' highest hill! How did such an anomaly come about?
Cheap Housing or Wine?
Around the second century B.C., Roman occupants of Gaul began to convince the native population of the advantages of wine compared with the then locally popular mead.
[Mouse over photos for
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> as this issue will focus on the hidden treasures as well as the little-known happenings in Paris!
> to read our review of The Packing Book, a 'must have' for anyone whose vacation comes close to ruin by too much baggage.
> to join us as we continue our visit to the dramatic and beautiful region of the Auvergne.
> for an exclusive tour for FRANCE On Your Own readers of the vineyards producing Bandol wines in the country's south ~ it's Part Three of our French Wine Report entitled 'France Wine Travel'.
and accompany Maxine Schur as she samples
some pleasures she would do without at home ~ 'naughty' temptations
found around every corner in Paris!
ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your
Knowledge of Historic Paris
by Arthur Gillette
Question from the last issue: What is the origin of the word gibet (gallows), as in the infamous Gibet de Montfaucon near today's Place de Stalingrad, where in the Middle Ages as many as 14 people were hanged at the same time?
Answer: It's the Arabic djebel (mount), as in Djebel Tarik ('Tarik's Mount') from which comes Gibraltar!
Our new question: Ever wonder why the French capital is called Paris? There are almost as many etymological theories on this subject as etymological theoreticians! So don’t get your hopes up – I don’t have a definitive answer. But, I have researched the enigma and hope that some of the major explanations advanced will intrigue you as much as they do me.
Gillette, and take advantage of his truly amazing knowledge of Paris
[See the answer
to this edition's question revealed
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in Paris is the way to make yourself at home while in the
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