Jour de Fête – Organic goodness in Valennes

Jour de Fête, Valennes – Introduction

This is a story about how a small town in country France (Valennes) has been transformed by a small group of passionate people who are committed to the ideal of producing clean food and drinks and sharing their produce and cooking with the general public.

It is the story of Jour de Fête in Valennes which is both a small restaurant and also a useful épicerie (grocery store) where you can buy produce including bottles of wine if you are travelling further afield.

We arrived in Valennes which is just outside the Parc Regional du Perche and only a short distance from Le Mans on a sunny day in autumn and pulled up outside Jour de Fête with its quaint looking building, not exactly knowing what to expect.

We were driving from a short stay in the Sarthe region down to stay in Tours to visit Domaine de la Garreliere who were harvesting at the time. We were very keen to see them in action and to find out how the harvest was going. We like to stay near Tours because there are some very good food and wine venues there – Garreliere’s vineyards are quite close to the village of Richelieu (just slightly to the East) which is about an hour’s drive south of Tours.

Anyway, we had arrived in Valennes close to lunch time so we though it was a good chance to try out the cooked food in Jour de Fête. It is very easy to find as it is one of the most imposing buildings in the village.

We entered Jour de Fête and were shown to a table just inside the door where the temperature was perfect and we had a glass of natural wine while we perused the menu.

The wine we found to drink was quite special. It was from a producer called Brendan Tracey who has approximately five hectares of vines in the Vendôme which lies north of the Loire River. We chose a white wine that was made from Orbois which we think is a very nice grape, local to the Vendôme, and capable of producing excellent white wines. We first came across it in a vineyard we were walking through with Pascal Potaire from Les Capriades. It is also called Petit Meslier and, confusingly, Arbois although it has nothing to do with the Jura.

As you can see from the Jour de Fête menu above it was very easy to choose – we just ordered everything!

When we finished the delicious meal, we had a look at the offerings in the Jour de Fête Epicerie section. the bread looked wonderful as you can see from the photo below.

They also have a small, but well-chosen, wine selection (shown below) including some made from a local grape that is capable of producing amazing red wines, namely Pineau d’Aunis. Anyone who has tried any of the red wines made by Jean-Pierre Robinot who is one of our producers will know just what the grape is capable of!

You can also see other Epicerie items such as jams and jellies and eggs and oils and much more on the shelves next to the wine.

When we first entered the welcoming space we were also pleased to see an “old friend” on the wall, namely the poster called Épaulé Jeté devised by the very talented French artist Michel Tolmer many years ago.

This has become a universal sign that the venue serves natural wines! It comes in very handy. One night in Tokyo about ten years ago we were looking for a bar and restaurant called Bunon, as we had heard that it served very interesting food and that they also had a cellar packed with natural wines.

We had the street name but we didn’t have the number (although many streets in Japan don’t have sequential numbering, but that is another story). We were walking down the street looking for the name on a door, but weren’t having any luck. Just as we were about to give up, a woman walked in front of us and pushed a door open and just inside we saw the Épaulé Jeté poster. We knew we had the right place!

What isn’t shown in the photos above are the fresh vegetables that are also available at Jour de Fête. They are organic and hence retain much more flavour than their non-organic counterparts.

So, in summary, this is a very good location for a meal, for a drink or to stock up on interesting produce.

Additional information

Name:Jour de Fête

Street: Place de l’église

Town/Suburb: Valennes, 3220

Phone number: +33 9 62 69 31 04

Opening hours: Thu – Sun, 10am – midnight

We have also included this venue in our survey of places to eat when travelling in country France which you will find here.

There is also some information on their Facebook site here.

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