Things to do in the Languedoc: Annual Events: April: Toques and Clochers
This is an annul wine festival held in a different village each year in the Limoux appellation area within the Aude
It is sponsored by Sieur d’Arques and has been held annually since 1989. It takes place in March or April the weekend before Easter (and therefore the weekend after the end of Limoux Fecos - La Nuit de la Blanquette).
Each year a different village or town is chosen as a venue to celebrate the previous year’s wines. Sieur d’Arques restore the church steeple of the chosen village and as a celebration and thanks the village hosts the greatest wine and food party of the year. On arrival punters buy, for a small fee, 5 tickets and are given a commemorative Toques et Clocheurs glass. There four different ‘Terroirs’ within the Limoux Appellation and a cremant de Limoux. Each has a seperate stand shown on a map provided with the glass and the tickets. A concert programme is held in the church, there are art exhibitons and regional snacks are sold served in bite sized ‘chasseur’ portions. Pan fried foie gras and apple tart, Gascon beef barbequed steak sandwich, the omnipresent Toulouse sausage and usually a sucking pig stick roasting can be found. Buskers perform at particular spots shown on a map prepared for the occasion.
It is well organised, and just as well as five glasses of wine is far more than the average French person is accustomed to drinking on a night out.
Go as early as possible on a Saturday while it is easy to quickly duck and dive between drinks and snacks and catch the art exhibitions. Youngsters love the heaving atmosphere of the evening where the tasting and entertainment is necessarily more random as it really does get busy.
Each year a model is made of the church which has been restored, so there are now over twenty and each year. These are assembled and paraded to the church where they are displayed during the celebrations.
On the following Sunday the best quality AOC barrels are auctioned off by Sieur d’Arques followed by a lavish gastronomic feast produced by a different Michelin chef each year for 1000 guests. Tables are hosted principally by the wine and restaurant business.
It has been hugely successful and seems to grow in poplarity every year without being spoilt. When appropriate parking is organised off site and visitors are shuttled a short distance to the village. There is usually a little bit of a walk from the drop off point and the heart of the village.
Check with any Aude Tourist office for the location and date of the current year’s event.