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Day Trips for
Arts and Festivals
Experience Languedoc's art, music and community festivals

The visual and plastic arts mix with music, food and wine at festivals throughout the Minervois, and in Languedoc as a whole. Did we mention food and wine? Whether it's an art opening, a musical evening, or a fête for this year's pumpkin harvest, every event celebrates the wonders of food and wine! Wines are the centerpiece in the Printemps du Minervois festivals held in villages through the region in April to celebrate the end of winter and the greening and flowering of the vines.

Caunes Minervois is known for its red marble, and every spring the village honors its native stone with a marble festival and a month-long marble symposium during which sculptors from around the world work day and night to complete monumental works. The hammering and cutting is all done in public, rain or shine, and villagers and visitors turn out to watch, discuss, and congratulate the artists. Sculptures from past years of the symposium grace public squares and other sites throughout the village; works from the 2008 symposium are displayed where they were produced, in front of Caunes' former train station.

The marble festival generally takes place over a weekend near the start of the symposium, and features local and regional artists in all media. Painters, potters, musicians, and performers join sculptors of marble, other varieties of stone, wood and metal. The arts of the vine and of the table are not neglected; wines, spring produce and various prepared dishes are offered throughout the festival days, with a community feast of Saturday evening.

Communal meals feature prominently in fêtes throughout the Minervois. The menus are typically traditional and of the season, often featuring an ingredient or dish that the fête particularly celebrates. Prices are generally reasonable and visitors are welcome. Often these feasts require advance reservations, so check at the Tourist Office in the town where a feast is planned a few days in advance to book a place at the table.

Community feasts in Caunes are usually held in the lovely, arbor-shaded garden of the Abbaye, or in the former wine cellers that open onto it. Feasts precede summer concerts or other performances in the amphitheater of the abbey as well as accompanying other festivals, such as the ceremonial, politically-charged, and quite boisterous presentation of the vin nouveau every fall.

Artists' openings or vernissages ("varnishings" from the former practice of varnishing paintings before displaying them) are common throughout the spring, summer and fall. The annual vernissage of artists the Atelier du Monestiere in Caunes is a major event, with celebrants pouring out of the atelier itself to fill the Place de l'Eglise. Tourist Offices often have information on openings, but keep an eye out for hand-lettered signs on the country roads or placards posted in village restaurants or bars. Or take a chance and simply wander into any public-looking celebration you happen across - chances are good that you'll be welcomed.

Late fall is the time for Les Grand Chemins, a two-week festival of arts, cinema, crafts, music, wine and food throughout the Minervois. Artists display their work at studios, galleries, restaurants, wineries, and other venues throughout the region, and there are feasts, wine tastings, concerts, performances, and film screenings to enjoy as well. By this time, the colder days are coming, and Les Grands Chemins brings and exuberant close to the festival year.

Some of our favorite area artists ...

Bob Kimberley, jeweler, at the Atelier du Monestiere in Caunes Minervois.

Morag Charlton, painter, at the Atelier du Monestiere in Caunes Minervois.

Thierry Pierre-Ivanoff, couturier, at the Atelier du Monestiere in Caunes Minervois.

Lionel Postal, potter, Caunes Minervois.

Rowena Coxwell, potter, Ammonite Pottery, Caunes Minervois.

Fran\E7oise Jatteau, painter, Atelier Jatteau, Aigne.

Olivier de Kerckhove, sculptor, Atelier Jatteau, Aigne.

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