France: South West France

Gascony and the Basque Country

Wines from north of the Pyrenees
By Paul Strang

This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Fête des Vins de Madiran

Each year over the two days 14 - 15 August, this open air wine-show takes place in the grounds of the old priory at Madiran. For the price of a tasting glass you can taste the whole range of Madirans and Pacherencs from 40 or more producers. Lunches on the spot are better than the evening suppers, but finger food in the village can be the best bet.

Useful information: Maison des Vins, 65700 Madiran Tel: 05 62 31 90 67 Fax: 05 62 31 90 79


Fête des Vendanges en Jurançon

Round about 10 December each year, following the end of the vintage, this provides an opportunity to taste wines old and new. The weather is often good at this time of year in Jurançon.

Useful information: Maison des Vins, 64360 Lacommande Tel: 05 59 82 70 30 Fax: 05 59 82 74 64


Saint-Mont – Vignerons en Fête

Last weekend in March, a three-day event when the growers open their doors (and their bottles), with trips round the vineyard (motorised or horse-and-cart) and a ‘Grande Nocturne’ (gala evening) on the Saturday at Saint-Aignan. Visit the website for details of where to stay.

Useful information: Producteurs Plaimont (see 'Wine Producers' above)at


Jazz at Marciac

At the beginning of August, a two-week festival of jazz in this medieval walled town, handy for the Madiran vineyards (follow up the festival with the Fête des Vins above). Book accommodation early - details can be found on the festival’s website.

Useful information: 32230 Marciac. Web: or


Fêtes des Cris du Cochon

The annual killing of the pig being a special event in the South West, this fête on the 2nd Sunday in August is held as a competition for the best presentation by adult humans of the life of the pig, from birth to death. Including piglet-racing and other diversions. No blood shed here. Unique.

Useful information: Maison du Pays de Trie, 65220 Trie-sur-Baïse Tel: 05 62 35 50 88 Fax: 05 62 35 62 88
Email: Web:


Fête du Piment d’Espelette

The piment d’espelette is a small medium-hot red pepper at the base of all Basque cookery. This fête takes place over the last weekend of October when the peppers have had a chance to dry and are sold in tresses on strings. Colourful and picturesque Sunday mass when Basque costume is worn. Book ahead for lunch at the Euzkadi, a hotel owned and run by the mayor of the town. (Tel: 05 59 93 91 88)

Useful information: Office de Tourism, 64350 Espelette Tel: 05 59 93 91 44 Fax: 05 59 93 89 71


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