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FOOD & DRINK

Foire aux vins: How to find bargains on high quality wine in France

In France, early autumn is an ideal time to stock up on high-quality French wine, as supermarkets, cavistes, and websites alike get ready for the Foire aux vins.

Foire aux vins: How to find bargains on high quality wine in France
A client looks at wine on sale in a store in Strasbourg in 2009. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

For consumers, it is the perfect time to buy that expensive vintage you have had your eye on, or maybe stock up on a few special bottles.

Invented in 1973, the grocery store E.Leclerc was the one to come up with the concept of hosting seasonal wine fairs (foire aux vins). The idea was to democratise wine consumption, while simultaneously helping wine producers and sellers make space ahead of the next harvest. 

Foire aux vins occur twice a year – in the fall and the spring, though the event in autumn tends to be larger and more involved. In recent years, almost all stores that sell wine have began taking part by offering their own mark-downs.

On average, about 54 million bottles are sold per year, with prices averaging between €5 and €20.

While foreigners might not have heard of this yearly sale before, the majority of French people take part each year. In fact, ahead of the 2020 foire aux vins, over 70 percent of French people reported that they planned to participate. 

Here are some tips so you can get the best deals:

Deciding where to go – There are different pros and cons to purchasing your wine online or in a supermarket or caviste

The benefit to buying online is that you can do your research at the same time and order directly to your home, which might be useful if you are buying in bulk. However, what you gain in accessibility you lose in personal contact.

The advantage to dedicated wine shops is staff-members’ helpful advice and knowledge. They can help you find the right wine that fits your tastes, as well as provide tips for pairing. For supermarkets, you benefit from a wider array of options, though less specialised advice. 

Know the dates – each supermarket and wine cave chooses their own dates for their fall wine sales. Most start either in early or mid September, and run for about three to four weeks, typically. Some, however, do not start until October. 

Le Figaro published the dates for 2022:

In-person stores 

  • Casino supermarkets: from August 26 to September 11, 2022
  • Géant Casino: from August 30 to September 12, 2022
  • Netto: from 1st to 19th September 2022
  • La Cave aux Galeries Lafayette: from September 2 to September 24, 2022
  • Chateaunet Malakoff: from September 2 to September 24, 2022
  • Lavinia: from September 5 to October 3, 2022
  • Aldi: from September 6, 2022 and while stocks last
  • Auchan Supermarché: from September 6 to September 25, 2022
  • Casino (convenience stores): from September 6 to 18, 2022
  • Intermarché: from September 6 to 25, 2022
  • V and B: from September 7 to 21, 2022
  • La Grande Épicerie de Paris: from September 7 to October 5, 2022
  • Lidl: from September 7, 2022 and until stocks last
  • Nicolas: from September 7 to October 4, 2022
  • Nysa: from September 9 to September 25, 2022
  • Cora: from September 13 to October 1, 2022
  • Eataly Paris Marais: from September 14 to October 16, 2022
  • Monoprix : from September 16 to October 2, 2022
  • Biocoop : from September 19th to October 3rd 2022
  • Franprix : from September 19th to October 9th 2022
  • La Cave du Château: from September 20 to October 8, 2022
  • Auchan Hypermarkets: from September 27 to October 11, 2022
  • Carrefour proxi (Contact, City, Express): from September 27 to October 9, 2022
  • Magasins U: from September 27 to October 8, 2022
  • Carrefour hypermarket: from September 27 to October 10, 2022
  • Naturalia: from October 1 to 21, 2022
  • E.Leclerc: from 4 to 15 October 2022
  • Carrefour Market: from October 6 to 23, 2022

Online stores

  • Wineandco: from August 30 to October 4, 2022
  • Comptoir des Millésimes: from August 30 to October 6, 2022
  • Le Petit Ballon : from September 2nd to October 2nd 2022
  • Vin Malin : from September 1 to September 30, 2021
  • Veepee : from September 1st to September 25th 2022
  • Vinatis : from September 2nd to October 9th 2022
  • Ma Cave Leclerc: from September 5, 2022 (exclusive offer) then from September 20 (pre-booking)
  • Les Passionnés du Vin: from September 7 to 26, 2022
  • Le Savour: from September 7 to September 25, 2022
  • CHATEAUNET: from September 4 to September 25, 2021
  • TWIL: from September 10 to October 22, 2022
  • iDealwine : from 6 to 27 September 2022
  • Millésimes : from September 14 to October 5, 2022
  • Les Grappes: from September 15 to October 17, 2022
  • Ma Cave Carrefour: from September 15 to October 30, 2022

Do your homework – The phenomenon is so popular that ahead of the fall foire aux vins, wine reporters for major French publications, like Le Monde, take care to develop recommendation lists – complete with prices, stores, and thorough descriptions of the wines.

Before heading to your local supermarket, you might want to read through Ophélie Neiman – Le Monde’s wine reporter – extensive recommendation list HERE (in French). Or, if you are heading out with a budget in mind, you could read Le Figaro’s top recommendations for under €20 (in French)

If you prepare ahead of time, you can use the foire aux vins to purchase gifts, wines for special occasions, or even plan ahead and look out for vintages that will appreciate with time. However, once you are in the store, do not be afraid to ask questions. 

You can read through more advice for purchasing wine in France HERE

Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket

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CULTURE

Victoria Beckham caps French makeover with Paris debut

Having turned to French experts to overhaul her struggling business, Victoria Beckham is seeking the highest validation of the fashion world with her first runway show in Paris on Friday.

Victoria Beckham caps French makeover with Paris debut

The former Spice Girl, 48 – who has been away from the catwalk for two years – joins Paris Fashion Week after a long stint presenting her clothes in New York and a brief dalliance with London.

Her sophisticated office and evening wear has been a surprise hit with fashionistas ever since her debut show in 2008, confounding those who expected her to be another celebrity dilettante.

But despite having 250 global outlets selling her clothes, 30 million followers on Instagram and one of the most famous husbands in the world, Beckham’s company has always struggled to turn a profit.

In a bid to turn things around, she has recruited top French talent: her chairman is Ralph Toledano, ex-president of the French Federation for Haute Couture and Fashion, and her CEO is Marie Leblanc de Reynies, former lead buyer at Paris shopping mecca Printemps.

“Victoria is not from the fashion world. She threw herself into the business and at a certain point, she needed to structure, organise and bring some order to the house, which is what we’ve been doing for the past four years,” Toledano told AFP.

Chic evening wear was always going to struggle during the pandemic, and reports this summer showed the label had €54 million in debt, and had to cut prices and staff to stay afloat.

But a successful cosmetics line, launched in 2019, has helped trim losses, and the team hopes to break even in the coming months.

Beckham has called her personal fame a “double-edged sword” for the business.

“Are other brands under the scrutiny that mine is under every time we file (results)? Absolutely not,” she told Vogue.

“But how many other brands have the luxury of getting the attention when they want it?”

Her team is upbeat: “We’ve defined a strategy, combined two pret-a-porter lines, found the right price-point… now it’s time to enter the big league,” said Toledano.

That means Paris — throwing Beckham into the loftiest and most scrutinised of fashion weeks.

“She’s a bit intimidated, she’s someone very humble,” said Toledano.

“There’s a lot of expectation. For someone who entered fashion without training, there’s a hope that Paris will be a sort of crowning moment,” he added.

Paris Fashion Week is a way for Beckham to validate her status “as a designer and not just a celebrity,” said Benjamin Simmenauer, a professor at the French Institute of Fashion.

London and New York are more focused on the commercial side of the business, as well as “audacious young designers”, while Paris “has a more creative and historical” side, Simmenauer told AFP.

It was a chance for her to shed the last of her image as an ex-Spice Girl, he added.

“Presenting in Paris is proof that she is truly dedicated to the project, not just trading on her past and present celebrity… that she has an original and relevant vision.”

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