La rentrée, La vendange, à Essoyes

August 28, 2017 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

Sunset in Essoyes, August 28

Sunset over Essoyes, on the eve of the vendange. Photo by Janet Hulstrand

Yesterday morning they were not here yet, and by yesterday evening they were here again. The big field where the gens de voyage who have come here to pick grapes during the vendange park their campers was empty, and now it is not. As the sun set last night, I could hear the hum of the motors of their caravans, the cries of children playing in the evening air.

The last few days have seemed almost eerily quiet in Essoyes. But it was the calm before the storm, the preparatory days before the beginning of the vendange, the grape harvest; in this case the harvesting of grapes that will eventually, through a painstaking and complicated process, become champagne.

I assumed that when the baker/pastry maker who made the transcendently delicious raspberry tarte for us a few weeks ago closed his shop for a few days last week, it was for a few days of well-deserved vacation in famously-vacation-month-August in France.

But, no! When I saw him the other day and asked if he had had a good rest, he laughed and said, “No, vacation at this time of year is not vacation, it is work!” And then explained, “Because of the vendange…” So I guess the bakery was closed so that the baker could prepare for the great increase in business that will take place this week, as vendengeurs arrive, work hard, and need to be fed!

And so our little village is going into vendange mode, starting today.


Later in the week, this flatbed will be filled with crates of freshly-picked grapes.

There’s more to report about recent happenings in Essoyes…a wonderful organ concert in the church by a very talented young Czech organist, a vide grenier on the former grounds of the chateau….

But it seems, to me anyway, somehow sacrilegious for the moment to discuss anything but the vendange. For now that is where all the focus lies.

See what I mean?


Concert Annulé: Vendanges (I should have known…)

So, stay tuned for more to come…

And bon courage to all who will be working so hard in the weeks ahead, and some who will work all year round, to carry out the process that ends in the creation of champagne. Champagne, which brings such joy and plaisir to people worldwide…and goes a long way toward cheering them up when they’re down.  🙂

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She leads book groups at the American Library in Paris, writing workshops in Essoyes, a village in the Champagne region, and teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” each summer, in Paris, for Queens College, CUNY.


Entry filed under: About Essoyes, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Interview with Bernard Pharisien, Local Historian (in English and in French) One more vendange come and gone…

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