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Nov 16

Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Beaujolais Nouveau Day is marked in France on the third Thursday in November with fireworks, music and festivals.

Under French law, the wine is released at 12:01 am, just weeks after the wine's grapes have been harvested.

Parties are held throughout the country and further afield to celebrate the first wine of the season.

Beaujolais Nouveau Lead image

The Gamay grapes that go into Beaujolais Nouveau are handpicked in the Beaujolais province of France. The wine actually originated about a century ago as a cheap and cheerful drink produced by locals to celebrate the end of the harvest season.

Perhaps the most well-known producer of Beaujolais Nouveau is Georges Duboeuf, who is credited as one of the marketing geniuses behind the wine. Selling this young red was viewed by some vintners as a means to clear large quantities of wine at decent profits, which would create a much-needed cash flow shortly after harvest. 

Beaujolais Nouveau 4

The idea of a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of the new vintage was conceived and this attracted much media attention. By the 1970s, the race became a national event. The races spread to neighbouring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by North America, and in the 1990s, to Asia.

The traditional slogan used in ad campaigns and marketing material - Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé (which translates to The new Beaujolais has arrived) was changed in 2005 to It's Beaujolais Nouveau time.

Today, there are several dozen vintners making this popular red. The Beaujolais region is 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide and home to nearly 4,000 vineyards which produce twelve officially-designated types of Beaujolais known as AOCs. They include some of the finest and priciest grand crus (big vintage) wines around, including Fleurie and Cote de Brouilly. The most common two are the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages, the former of which account for half of the region's annual output.

In 2010, 35 million bottles of the wine were put on the market. Some 7.5 million were sold in French supermarkets and 15.5 million were exported mainly to Japan, Germany and the United States.

Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, also known as whole-berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the grapes without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.

Beaujolais Nouveau - that much-ballyhooed cherry-red coloured vintage that’s best served chilled - is clearly not for wine snobs. This fresh and fruity red is the result of a quick fermentation process that ends up with a tasty, clean wine that is enjoyed by palates the world over.

There are about 120 Beaujolais Nouveau related festivals held in the Beaujolais region. 

The most famous 'Les Sarmentelles' is held in the town of Beaujeu, the capital of the Beaujolais region. Kicking off in the early evening the day before Beaujolais Nouveau, the five-day festival features wine tasting, live music and dancing. During the afternoon on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, a heated tent offers wine and a range of local foods for visitors to sample. There is also a tasting contest featuring all of the twelve kinds of Beaujolais, in which the winner nets his or her weight in Beaujolais-Villages. In the evening, a torch lit parade honours the farmers that made the wine. Fireworks at midnight mark the release of the new wine, which is then drank until dawn. 

Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young. Most vintages should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages (such as 2000) the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest rolls around.

The region of Beaujolais is known for its fabulous food. The famed Paul Bocuse restaurant is just minutes from the heart of Beaujolais, as is Georges Blanc’s. These great restaurants have plenty of Beaujolais Nouveau on their wine lists. The wine goes well with either haute cuisine or Friday night’s pizza.

Is Beaujolais Nouveau making a comeback?

Beaujolais Nouveau Day was once a national event in the UK. Is it making a comeback, asks Justin Parkinson from the BBC News website.

It's as much a part of 1980s folklore as massive mobile phones, shoulder pads and personal organisers. On the third Thursday of every November the City of London was awash with celebrations for the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Getting hold of the recently pressed, light red wine as quickly as possible became an annual event. It was usually served chilled.

The Beaujolais Run meant teams competing to be the first to get the first case of Nouveau from Paris to London. One year it got even more "Eighties" than normal, the winner being a Harrier jet. Bars, restaurants, pubs and off-licences held tastings, sometimes lasting all day, as events spread around the UK.

"Sales of Beaujolais Nouveau reached a peak in the late 1980s," says Anne McHale, master of wine at Berry Bros and Rudd. "It was a huge success based on marketing. But it declined in the 1990s when too many producers jumped on the bandwagon and the quality declined, getting weaker and more acidic."

McHale says focusing on Nouveau damaged the reputation of Beaujolais's better-quality products, in the way "Blue Nun did with German wines". Only now are people starting to return to other Beaujolais, which are often sold under the names of individual villages, such as Fleurie, she adds.

Japan is the biggest export market for Nouveau, buying almost 60 million litres last year. UK interest might not be at its peak, but something seems to be stirring. Last year the country imported 2.27 million litres - more than two and a half times the amount for 2012. This happened after Marks and Spencer launched a "carbon-neutral" version.

The celebrations have always been commercially motivated. Beaujolais, in France's Burgundy region, south-east of Paris, started promoting its freshly pressed wines as "Nouveau" in 1951. The release date was moved ahead of those for rival wines to maximise publicity. The uncorking of bottles just after midnight became a cause for street parties.

The run to London started after wine writers Clement Freud and Joseph Berkmann held a wager in 1970 over who could get it across the Channel first. This is still going, although competitors vie to transport it via the shortest route rather than in the shortest time, to ensure road safety.

"Nouveau has improved," says Beaujolais Run director Rob Bellinger. "Because of global warming the wine has been getting better every year. In the old days really it was like drinking vinegar."

One place that's never tired of Beaujolais Nouveau Day is Swansea. "It's like a national holiday," says Becky Oliver, owner of the city's No Sign Wine Bar. "Everyone has the day off. It's always been quite big but it's growing every year."

So, with UK sales increasing, is it on the up again? "I would be pretty confident in saying that this doesn't represent a future trend," says McHale. "It's more likely to be the result of a temporary spike in retro-nostalgia. Or perhaps this entire volume is being consumed by Swansea?"

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Nov 15

New Automatic Visa for Second Home Owners

New Automatic Visa for Second Home Owners

Or at least the possibility of one!

France’s upper house of parliament has decided to approve a bill giving British second-home owners an automatic long-stay visa right without any formalities.

The bill will be debated by députés (similar to British MPs), at the Assemblée Nationale in December. It can only be finalised and approved after that process.

The idea is that British second home owners will be able to spend more than 90 days out of 180 days (currently the maximum time allowed following Brexit), in France without making a formal application for a ‘temporary long-stay visa’.

British second home owners would then be able to travel freely to and from their second home without having to complete costly and complicated forms for long stay visas.

Until the new bill is debated and finalised we don’t currently know exactly what will be required in terms of proof of ownership, or other documentations to qualify, but it is starting to sound like some good news for those with second homes in France! Watch this space…

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Nov 13

Beaujolais Nouveau Time is Almost Here

Like Wine? You Gotta Try the Beaujolais Nouveau!

It’s November, and for those of us in the know, the 3rd Thursday of the month is a big deal. This day marks the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine!

South of Burgundy is a wine region known as Beaujolais. The climate is a bit warmer than Burgundy, so the Pinot Noir grapes popular in Burgundy don’t thrive so well in Beaujolais. That’s ok, though – there’s another grape described as a cousin to Pinot that grows very well in the area: the Gamay grape.

The Beaujolais region had always produced a wine celebrating the end of the harvest – basically, they’d make a wine, and it would be aged only a few weeks before being consumed. It wasn’t until World War II that this young wine could be purchased outside of the region. Marketers saw the potential in selling this wine elsewhere, and in the 1970s, the release of the wine had attracted a lot of media coverage. By the 1980s, the wine could be purchased in other countries in Europe, and in 1990s, it made its way to North America and Asia.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Fun fact: La récolte (the harvest) of these grapes is all done by hand! This can take up to 35,000 people working 15-20 days!

I know what you’re thinking – wine gets better with age, so why bother having some that’s only sat for a few weeks? The shorter the wine’s fermentation process, the fruitier it will be. Plus, this quick process means the wine will be less tannin. Qu’est-ce que c’est ? (What’s that?) You know how sometimes when you drink wine, your mouth tastes a bit dry afterward? That’s tannin.

These two characteristics combined produce a drinkable wine that pairs with almost anything. I was in Whole Foods the other day with my friend, and in the wine section, they were passing out samples of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Another customer tried it and commented on how well it went down and how normally he doesn’t like wine. This makes a very nice intro wine!

I’ll drink to that.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Oct 2


Cle France

Still time to get moved-in for Christmas

Yes I know it is only October so apologies for using the 'C-word' when we are still 12 weeks away from December 25th.

12 weeks is just enough time to get you moved into your new house in France or spending Christmas in your new French holiday home, yes you will have to book a viewing with us very soon but once you have found the perfect house we will 'pull-out all the stops' to get you moved in for the festive season.

Cle France has a vast network of agents and houses for sale so we are sure you will have the best selection to choose from, get in touch and let us help you find the perfect French getaway for you to enjoy.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.


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May 1

Faire le Pont! – May Holidays in France

France, just like every other country, has many holidays throughout the year.

It is best to leave the planning of your viewing trip to the experts at Cle France but if you are going to plan your trip and see multiple houses then be careful to avoid les jours fériés as these may catch you out. Estate Agents in France work so hard they are keen not to miss the opportunity of a Bank Holiday day off and making the bridge is a common practice for most business so let us explain.

With the creation of new holidays every year (such as National Doughnut Day — faites une croix dans vos calendriers [mark your calendars]! It’s June 2nd this year!), it seems that there’s something to celebrate every day. Whether you believe in celebrating doughnuts or not (and let’s be honest, you should as you only live once!), there are certain holidays that are nationally recognised.

May Bank Holiday Dates

Image courtesy of Eric Rocheblave.

These holidays, called les jours fériés, are public holidays, and public servants, employees in the public sector, and students generally have the day off!

This year, France has 13 public holidays. Can you name them? Answers are at the bottom of the post!

Of those 13, 5 take place in May. That’s a lot of days off! That’s almost 40% of days off in one month. Do you know the expression faire le pont? It literally means “to make the bridge,” but it refers to the idea of going from one end of something to another more than actually making a bridge. What it means is to make a long weekend. If a holidays falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, the French “make a bridge” to the next week.

For example, if the holiday is on Thursday, it doesn’t make much sense to come to work Wednesday, have off Thursday, return to work Friday, then have the weekend off. So what they do is have off Thursday AND Friday, plus the weekend. A four-day weekend! They font le pont from Thursday to Monday.

So what are the holidays this month? Let’s take a look!

Le 1er mai – La Fête du Travail – Labor Day

This holiday is sometimes called La Fête du Muguet. Le Muguet (lily of the valley) is picked and given to loved ones. Don’t want to pick any, or don’t have access to a field ? Don’t worry – there are stands on the road where you can purchase them. There are even regulations that allow organizations to grow and sell these flowers without taxes.

In the streets, you’ll see parades celebrating workers rights.

Le 8 mai – La Fête de la Victoire / le Jour de la Libération – Victory Day

This holiday is to celebrate the end of the Second World War and freedom. Freedom’s not just an American value :-p On this day in 1945, Charles de Gaulle announced the end of the war.

Many people attend church services on this day, and they watch the parades after. The atmosphere is generally quite happy.

Le 14 mai – Ascension

This is the 40th day of Easter and marks the day that Jesus Christ ascended to heaven after being crucified.

Some Christians attend special church services, but most people don’t do anything specifically related to the holiday. Since it’s a four-day weekend, many people may take a mini vacation.

Le 24 mai – Pentecôte – Pentecost Sunday or Whit Sunday

This is another religious holiday in May. Since it’s on a Sunday, the fact that everything is closed is nothing new. Some Christians will attend church services. Traditionally, trumpets will be blown during the service. This represents the wind that blew when the spirit descended into Jesus’s followers.

For many others, it’s just like any other weekend, except they don’t have to go to work the next day.

Le 25 mai – Lundi de Pentecôte –Pentecost Monday or Whit Monday

This day follows Pentecost Sunday. Much like the previous day, not a lot is done anymore. In fact, the French government decided to remove it from their list of national holidays around 10 years ago.  It was reinstated again after the death of many elders during a heatwave. The new holiday, called the Day of Solidarity, is to bring awareness to elderly people with disabilities. Some people do work on this day for no wages, and their money is donated to organisations. Not everyone does this, though.

Happy Holidays!

1. Jour de L’an (1er janvier)

2. Pâques (le 9 avril)

3. Lundi de Pâques (le 10 avril)

4. Fête du Travail (1er mai)

5. Fête de la Victoire 1945 (le 8 mai)

6. Ascension catholique (le 14 mai)

7. Pentecôte (le 24 mai)

8. Lundi de Pentecôte (le 25 mai)

9. Fête nationale (le 14 juillet)

10. Assomption (le 15 aout)

11. Toussaint (le 1er novembre)

12. Armistice 1989 (le 11 novembre)

13. Noël (le 25 décembre)

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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