"Fete de la châtaigne à Collobrières - venez nombreux!” We have now entered into the season of chestnut harvest across France and Europe. To celebrate this season, a lot of villages based in areas where chestnuts are grown in quantity are going to organise a chestnut festival.
A festival around chestnuts sounds a bit crazy but these events are actually common in farming areas where this kind of festival has existed for centuries. We have festivals to celebrate the harvest, first grapes, the transhumance, the trufle in Perigord or the Mirabelle in Metz. France has more than a thousand events like this all around the country and I am sure this is true for England too.
These social gatherings are initially a way to promote products and the great people behind it. But the importance of these events in villages' social lives and the number of people attending them prove that there is something more. By relating to a traditional product, we are relating to the people before us that passed us the know-how, we belong to a community, and we also celebrate a region, a culture and a way of life to the rest of the world.
Chestnut festivals are organised around traditional production areas: South of France with the Collobrières festival, Switzerland with Fully and Saint-Gingolph, and Italy in the Mugello region where they have at least 5 festivals like Sagra delle Castagne in Marradi. Collobrières between Marseille and Nice has probably the biggest festival in France, running every Sunday for 3 weeks on the 14, 21 and 28th of October and gathering thousands of people around local traditions, music and chestnuts.
People also go there to discover chestnut products - wild boar with chestnuts, chestnut beer, honey, pasta, and of course chestnut spread - crème de marrons. With local producers making a big part of their annual revenue during these fairs, these festivals have a tremendous economic impact on the chestnut economy. We can imagine visitors will also indulge in delicious cakes based on crème de marron: chestnut mousse, chestnut sponge, Mont Blanc…
If you want to participate, this could be a great idea for a week end in the French countryside, as chestnut areas are among the most remote and scenic parts of France. If summer left you moneyless, you can also show your support by baking some great chestnut cakes and share it with your friends and family. We care a lot about chestnuts and chestnut lovers here, so you can even try our chestnut spread directly from your London home. Our chestnut spread is made with organic chestnut from Ardèche, it has less sugar than regular chestnut spreads and it is has a great traditional taste.