The Montmartre annual wine harvest has been a festive Parisian tradition since 1934, but we’ve come across some photographs from the 1950s that reveal a time in the vineyard’s history when the grape-picking ceremony added an extra kick into the celebration. Wink wink.
Since the 19th century, the Parisian vineyard’s closest neighbours have included the infamous cabaret and burlesque houses of Montmartre. Among them, the Moulin Rouge, birthplace of the can-can, and just across the street at the foot of the vines is one of Paris’ most beloved cabarets, Au Lapin Agile, famously painted by Picasso.
So naturally, the neighbourly thing to do was of course to invite these leggy ladies to can-can over the vines and grind the grapes. Fun for all!
Source: (c) Vente Photos
I dug up a 1952 Pathé newsreel of the girls in action at the Clos de Montmartre, one of Paris’s last three working vineyards, which still produces 1500 half-litre bottles each year…
I’m not sure if the nuns from the old neighbouring abbey who originally planted the vines back in the 12th century would have approved, but everyone else certainly seems to be enjoying their presence! And according to the newsreel, it was “all in aid of the children of Montmartre”.
I can’t say I’ve attended the festival every year, but I couldn’t find any other photographs of the dancers doing the can-can harvest after 1965 and my guess is (I could be wrong), that they’ve not been invited back to do the harvest for quite a while. Perhaps one of the officials got a little too hands on?!
Well I say bring back the can-can wine harvest! Who doesn’t love a good glass of Moulin Rouge?
Don’t miss the wonderful Musee de Montmartre which has a lovely café for lunch in the garden. Every Saturday at 2:30 pm, you can also take part in a guided tour of the vineyard of Montmartre (Paris still has working vineyards – I count eight). The ticket includes learning about the vineyard, a wine tasting of the Clos Montmartre and also access to the Museum of Montmartre, Suzanne Valadon’s studio and the beautiful temporary Camoin exhibition. Make your reservation at the museum de montmartre website. This is a great time as the harvest is next month.