The 1st Saturday in October is the not-to-be-missed Melun Fete son Brie.
Melun is a 26 minute train ride outside of Paris (Gare du Lyon) in the Ile-de-France department. *Please pronounce that Maaaaaaa-la...n like a French cow (not like a Vermont cow). If you say something like melon no one will have a clue what you're talking about by the way. The actual town is a 20 minute walk from the train station. But since some people haven't yet learned to wait on line for the bus or anything else, I suggest you wait. Granted I would have missed out on the scent of Brie cheese wafting over the bridge as I marched into Melun.
The town square was full of white tents offering an international cheese tasting. This fellow was born and bred in the Swiss town of Emmental from a family of cheese makers.
He offered me a taste of wonderful three-year-old Emmental. There are visible salt crystals on the side, the sign of the real thing. I bought his home-made fig/apple mustard but I should have bought some Emmental!
It tasted infinitely better than the stuff in all the supermarkets here. When you order anything cheesey in France like a croque monsieur or a crepe fromage etc. you can bet your bottom euro it's this cheap industrial, shredded stuff you're getting - not nice at all.
Next to the Swiss guy a Polish purveyor from the Madeleine. (Where was the Brie?)
I bought ropes of smoky Kabanosy...
I merely tasted the cassis but was sorely tempted...
And even more tempted by the chestnuts from the Limosine. I just couldn't figure out what I'd do with a big bag of them...? You tell me.
I figured that was it for the fete and started wandering the streets to get back to the train station. Wrong! All the alleyways were full of little rock bands, producteurs from around France and and performers like this pantomime guy doing a 'cooking' demo for kids.
At last I found the town hall/Hotel de Ville where the main shindig was going on.
Plenty of Brie du Melun to taste here.
Honey tasting for the kids.
A lot of confreries (brotherhood/association) of this or that in medieval outfits.
The big cheese got up
To look a lot like a wheel of Brie IMHO...
Nearly everyone at this event was a confrerie of something or other including the guy pouring out tastes of milk. I'm sure this cow has a medal lurking at the end of her chain conferring some sort of honorary association. Geraldine says she's a confrerie du tastevin Clos Vougeot...
Big bird was not wearing a medal. Why ever not?
There is a decidedly medieval feel to this festival - everyone is out in the streets, many in costume, music playing. In general loads of fun and good cheer just a short ride out of Paris. True I did miss the big Brie tasting contest earlier in the day, but I'll try not to miss out on next Saturday's Brie fete in Meaux. Stay tuned.