Montmartre is never as fun as it is during the neighborhood’s annual Fête des Vendanges grape harvest festival. It’s perhaps the only time of year when locals outnumber tourists in the streets.
On October 9-13, Paris celebrates one of its only vineyards in the city limits with a massive street fair of food, wine, and cultural displays. People of all ages flood the streets, creating a lively and happy atmosphere that continues past sunset — for which everybody takes advantage of the neighborhood’s high vantage point to stop and watch — and into the night.
The dominating event is the tastings. On Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., wander through hundreds of stands selling wine and regional food specialities from all over France. Your first drink, which will set you back about 6 euros, will come in a plastic souvenir wine glass which you then use to buy more glasses of wine. Vendors will sell a glass of their finest for about 3 to 5 euros, and if you love it you can buy a bottle.
A variety of events celebrating the area and its heritage occur during the weekend. Vineyard visits, a walk to see the fall colors of Montmartre, a picnic, musicians in the streets, a visual art exposition, a 5K, live music performances every night… there’s plenty to do and something for everyone, including children not of legal drinking age. (See the full list of events online.)
The Fête des Vendanges is the third most well-attended annual event in the city with an estimated 500,000 visitors. So while you can’t really fully avoid the crowds, those hoping to avoid the densest throngs of people should go earlier in the day. Surrounded by jovial drinkers and a glass of good wine in hand, you will want to stay just until the sun goes down — a spectacle best viewed from the steps of Montmartre or else Square Nadar with a view of the Eiffel Tower.