A rich haul of Sardine Festivals along France’s coastline

12-07-2018 Des sardines sortis de la mer
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Tinned or fresh, grilled or marinated, sardines are naturally high in Omega 3 and one of the nation’s favourite fish. And the French flock in their droves to the many dedicated fish festivals held along the coast during the summer months.

 

Brittany: reviving French folklore

With its long coastline, Brittany is well-known for its rich seafood bounty. It also boasts the highest numbers of sailors in France, and the largest haul of saltwater fish, notably sardines. So it is no surprise that events to celebrate these small blue fish throughout the summer months in France’s ports are also a-plenty. The two most popular sardine festivals are held in Tredrez-Locquemeau on France’s Cotes-d’Armor, and in Quiberon in the Morbihan department. The former takes place this year over the course of an entire weekend on 21-22 July. In addition to a vast array of entertainment including an exhibition of boat models, mounted fish, shops, street acts and traditional Breton games, visitors can also feast on grilled sardines to their heart’s content to the tune of local musicians and performers from further afield. A delectable fusion of culture which attracts crowds in their thousands. In Quiberon, events take place in and around Port-Maria. Like last year, the famous, local fishing boat, le Kenedeven, will bring home its trawl of 500kg of fish for one of the most popular summer events on the peninsula. The fish feast is planned for late afternoon on 21 July, and consists not only of grilled sardines, but also “moules-frites” – mussels and chips for the uninitiated – fish soup, and for dessert, the famous, and unmissable “far Breton” custard flan. And if that’s not enough, a musical procession is set to fill the town’s streets with Celtic tunes.

 

Les sardines grillées

Famous grilled sardines @Danatentis

 

La Turballe: two summer dates for your diary

The Sardine Festival held in the town of La Turballe is so popular, it is celebrated on two different days during the summer, 21 July and 11 August. It’s the ideal opportunity to sample fresh sardines a-go-go. In fact more than a tonne of sardines is devoured over the duration of the festival, in sardine fillets, in soups and essentially grilled and served with chips. This fabulous festival is further enhanced by the musical accompaniment of sailor’s shanties performed by the group “Reves de Mer.”

Fresh sardines

Fresh sardines from Turballe @nklphoto

The Festival of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-vie: the Atlantic Coast’s most famous..

One of the most popular festivals in the “Grand Ouest” part of France is due to take place this year on 29 July, promising a packed programme of grilled sardines, langoustines and fish soup, all served with a generous dose of typical Vendée atmosphere. For this year’s event, due to take place in its usual haunt on the Quay Garcia-Ferrande, its recipe for success remains unchanged: traditional, folkloric dancing and singing inspired by the sea, backed by seafood tastings. Saint-Gilles sardines enjoy a starring role on the menu, and can also be served with local hero products or barbecued meats for just 10€. Last year thousands of visitors flocked to the coast to consume more than 850kg of the so-called “small blue fish”.

 

Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the night of the sardine

The first weekend in August, which falls this year 4-5 August, sees the Night of the Sardine. In addition to many tastings, the town’s residents dress in costume to celebrate local Basque culture and perform dances, and attend the popular ball.  The event culminates in a fish-fest consisting of grilled sardines à la plancha and “piperade,” a Basque dish consisting of sauteed peppers, tomatoes and onions.

Les sardines

The night of sardine @benostrower