It was a fine evening for French frivolity when my plus one and I ventured to South Yarra for the Paris to Provence French Festival. When an event promises a French bulldog fancy dress parade, wine, and a lot of cheese, let’s be clear, you do not hesitate.
Arriving at Como House, making our way through the manicured gardens, it was a little bit like stepping onto the set of a French film. Fairy lights hung above white bistro tables and chairs scattered around the garden with the sounds of accordion music in the distance.
Our first stop was the Bordeaux and Beyond wine bar to imbibe in wines and champagne from all over France. Masterclasses offered festival-goers an education in how to differentiate wines from unique French regions, and the difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ wines.
Next up was the French bulldog parade, which did not disappoint. I saw dogs with checked bowties, some with tiny hats. I was impressed and resisted the urge to take one of the dogs home.
We then made le tour de France, circling our way around the many stalls offering everything from stinky, delicious fondue to salami with fennel, and more croissants and baguettes than you can shake a breadstick at. Browsing the marketplace, I came across homewares for my future cottage in France, dainty jewellery, and French-milled soap – and, of course, we made a few stops to taste French spirits. My favourite was Spirits of France where we sipped everything from armagnac to spiced rum and absinthe.
The evening finished off with a fashion show (this time with people, not dogs) schooling us in the ways of dressing Parisian-chic. We were all pleasantly surprised when the show culminated in ladies clad in sexy undies – oh là là! The French really do know their lingerie.
By closing time, I had enrolled in a French book club, eaten a lot of cheese, and had my picture taken with cuddly French bulldogs. I will be back next year!
Joelle A. is fan of wine, cheese and France. She is also actually French.
An annual event, the Paris to Provence Festival runs over three days in November. For more details visit their website.