It’s a modern-day fairytale. Boy meets girl (fall in love, get married, live happily ever after) – on their vineyard. There’s this undeniable allure of living as a winemaker in an environment surrounded by grapevines. Some place out in the country that quietens the mind and brings simplicity to life.
Maybe that’s why the French reality show that hooks up farmers with potential mates has an audience of almost five million viewers. And, I for one, believe the vignerons are the main attraction. (Okay, the escargot farmers are kinda cool, too).
“L’amour est dans la pré,” (“Love is in the fields”) hosted a family of vignerons who live down the road from my husband’s townhouse. Jean-Paul Paquet, a widower and his daughter, Emmanuelle Paquet (who is also single) laughed as they retold the story. Unbeknownst to them, a friend pitched them to the show’s producers. They were selected and the dad/daughter team welcomed the M6 film crew to their domain Mur du Cloitre.
Domaine Mur du Cloitre is near the Moselle river. (You can see a 3-D view of the vineyards here, with a Medieval Fortress (Château des Ducs de Lorraine in Sierck-les-Bains). Luxembourg City is a half hour away. For me, the best part of the program is the insider view of farm life.
Throw romantic fantasies out the window, M6TV shows engaged agronomics. The word REALITY is taken quite seriously. No fantasy, like “The Courtship.” Just “agriculture, the most healthful, useful and noble employment of man,” as George Washington once said.
Emmanuelle admits that seeing herself on TV is a bit of a shock. Jean-Paul says the program is true to his everyday life. Emmanuelle is in her early 40s. Jean-Paul’s just over 70. But as Joan Collins said: “Age is just a number. It is irrelevant unless you’re a bottle of wine.”
Jean-Paul really does defy his age. He was dubbed “the George Clooney of the Moselle. “Maybe that is why he received so many letters; which took him more than 10 hours to open.
Did Paquet pere et fille find love? Well, not on the show. “Love is like wine, it needs time.”
It could be that Jean-Paul was immobilized, enthralled by so many applicants. Maybe he was immobilized by over-choice, the theory stating that people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with too many options.
Emmanuelle had the opposite experience; she met “the one” on the first letter she opened.
For you ladies looking for that someone special, maybe you still have a chance. Here is Domaine Mur du Cloitre’s Facebook page.
The father-daughter pair are a dynamic duo with effervescent personalities and an infectious joie de vivre. When I first met the Paquets in 2019, they left an impression of a super-friendly family and treated me like I was a long lost friend. Their wines are just as interesting; regularly receiving awards from Hachette as well as the World Wine Championship in Brussels. Here is a listing with profiles of their different varitals. My personal favorites are the Pinot Noire and the Riesling.
Jean-Paul jokingly sends out this public announcement: “I have a mistress, I spend most of my time with. She demands a lot of attention from me. Her name is Madame Nature.”
“Melva’s Wine” is a song by Johnny Cash about the fruit of the vine and the woman who makes it. A small tribute to Emmanuelle’s mom, who passed down her recipe for vin blanc chaud. It’s a local specialty and one of the best I have ever tasted; probably because it’s made with amour-propre. The Paquet family recipe for vin blanc chaud is a secret, but, here’s one that you can adjust to make your own.
Read more about Alice’s expat life here.
Alice Verberne is a contributing writer for Dispatches Europe. She has worked in print journalism and magazine production in the United States and Europe throughout her career. She currently resides in France where she enjoys visiting former French speaking colonies and discussing history with the locals.