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Baguettes or wine festival: France mulls UNESCO shortlist

A centuries-old wine festival in Jura has reportedly been placed on a new short-list of French candidates for UNESCO recognition, but there’s competition from baguettes and Paris rooftops.

Jura’s historic Biou d’Arbois wine festival was in the running alongside French baguettes and Paris’ zinc-covered rooftops to be endorsed as the country’s latest official nomination for UNESCO’s global list of ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

According to Le Parisien newspaper and other French media outlets, culture minister Roselyne Bachelot is due make a recommendation to president Emmanuel Macron in March this year – regarding the country’s candidate for 2022.

The application process can be lengthy and a UNESCO committee has the final say.

French bakers have been seeking to join pizza-twirling in Naples on the UNESCO list, and president Macron was widely quoted in 2018 as supportive of the country’s famous baguette making the cut.

A push for Jura’s Biou d’Arbois wine festival to get UNESCO recognition has been ongoing for much of the past decade.

According to local authorities, the French government previously put the annual event forward for consideration by UNESCO in 2015.

Taking place on the first Sunday in September, a focal point of the festival is a large bunch of grapes – the ‘biou’ – weighing between 80kg and 100kg.

Winegrowers parade the grapes through the streets on a stretcher, before hanging the oversized bunch in the church of St-Just, as a tribute to the patron of the Arbois commune.

According to a dossier previously submitted to France’s culture ministry, a first mention of the ‘biou’ was recorded in 1665. It says the custom may have existed before that, too.

By offering the first fruits of the harvest in this way, it’s thought growers traditionally hoped to improve their odds of a good vintage.

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