Seven town centres across France will be invaded today by winemakers protesting the handling of the French wine crisis - this morning thousands of people have already taken over the centre of Avignon, and around 3000 protesters have arrived in Mâcon.
As reported on decanter.com at the beginning of last month, plans for a national day of action were being put together weeks ago by unions across the country, but the scope of the demonstrations was unknown.
Now it is understood seven towns will be affected by the protests in some of the largest demonstrations seen in France since 1905. Avignon is likely to see the largest crowds with politicians and representatives of various movements in attendance. Many demonstrators are expected to dress in black or wear black armbands.
The protests so far are largely peaceful. The Avignon demonstrations were led by a female picker draped in a black dress with the message ‘They want the death of winemakers’ written on it.
Other marches of differing kinds will take place in Bordeaux, Mâcon, Angers, Tours, Nantes, and Blois, AFP reports. Protests had also been planned to take place in Toulouse until the organisers decided to join the Bordeaux demonstrations.
It is understood two coachloads of Champagne producers have joined protesters in Macon.
In Bordeaux, the unions are expecting around 5,000 people to join the demonstration. This figure is now expected to increase greatly with winemakers coming from départements across the atlantic coast and inland as well as those originally going to Toulouse.
The unions organising these demonstrations include the National Federation of Agricultural Unions (FNSEA), Young Farmers (JA), and the Confederation of French Wine Cooperatives (CCVF).
The FNSEA is particularly vocal in its dissatisfaction with the current situation. Although it admits that the French wine industry has been slow to respond to worldwide trends in wine, its anger is directed at the government.
‘This crisis also stems from a lack of political backing,’ says the FNSEA.
The producers’ main gripes are the continuing fall of barrel prices and the current health campaign in the country which is urging people to drink in moderation.
Written by Oliver Styles