Two months ago I was sipping G.H Mumm underneath a twinkling Eiffel Tower, using a well-worn Lonely Planet map of Paris as a picnic rug. So when I heard Paris was coming to Melbourne, in the form of the sixth annual Paris to Provence French festival, I was a wee bit excited as it meant I could relive the French life that I became so fond of (because everyday should be accompanied with G.H Mumm and croissants, right?!) without having to organise a private jet.
2015 Paris to Provence: what to expect
Throughout this weekend, South Yarra’s stately Como House and Garden will host the French pop-up village, and by pop-up village I mean elaborate French marketplace, with 75 French-inspired retailers divided up into zones: Normandie and La Provence for the shopper, and Les Halles de Toulouse and Les Champs Élysées for the foodie. Then there’s the French Bulldog fancy dress, escargot eating contest, art classes, cooking demos, croissant throwing, French television viewing party, animal farm and French language sessions, among LOTS of other things to do. To be honest, I’m not too sure what hasn’t been thought of to entertain the masses at this festival of all French festivals.
There’s literally something for all ages, with the sizeable crowd a mix of kids trotting about colouring-in in the kids’ zone, parents enjoying some time off with cheese from my personal favourite Milk the Cow and midriff-flashing scenesters sipping their G.H Mumm from the pop-up Champagne bar. The diversity creates for a fun, relaxing atmosphere, with everyone content on enjoying the French festivities.
There’s also the opportunity to roam the National Trust’s Como House itself; for a sip of history as opposed to Champagne.
With the morning’s rain sent packing, I had a fabulous time getting lost amongst the food stalls, listening to the French tunes, tasting chutneys, very reluctantly drinking French rosé and fantasising that I was back on holiday in France. At one point, with all the French speaking, I actually thought I was strolling the Champs Élysées. Highly confusing.
What’s for lunch?
With baguettes, beef bourguignon and quiches aplenty, there are lots of lunch options, and lots of red tablecloth seating. Although I was quite envious of those organised ones with picnic rugs. I should have pulled my Lonely Planet map out of retirement. I strongly recommend setting up for the day with a picnic rug in the quieter vegetable garden area. Or try and claim one of the red and white striped deckchairs, which are reminiscent of Paris’s Luxembourg Gardens.
And you simply cannot leave without a crepe (or two!). I couldn’t decide between salted caramel and lemon sugar so I, of course, got both, plus a pistachio and raspberry pastry.
Practice up on your bonjours and mercies; don some red, white and blue; and get to this fun festival that wraps up tomorrow, Sunday 22 November, open 9am–5pm.
2015 Paris to Provence | Como House and Garden, corner Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria
Tickets available online or at the gate. Adult, $21; child $7.
I attended as a guest of Paris to Provence. However, all comments and opinions are my own.