Every summer, the north Breton coastal town of Roscoff throws a vibrant festival in celebration of its famous l’oignon rose or pink onion.
This Roscoff speciality was sold by ‘Onion Johnnies’ who crossed the channel every August to sell their surplus crop to the British to support their families back home. They wore a black beret and striped Breton shirt with the characteristic tresses of onions strung around their shoulders and on their bicycles. These men pedalled around Britain in the 1800s and have become an infamous stereotype for the French bike-riding man.
Emily from our graphic design team was in Roscoff with her family last summer, and got the chance to experience the fun and lively festival:
“There were vintage tractors showing the traditional farming methods in France of the turn of the 18th century shown alongside the onion stalls, as well as cider, Champagne and cheese. French country music and dancing was being showcased in the middle surrounded by hay bales. Further festivities included a torch lit parade and a bicycle race!
The onions, we learnt, are plaited together in order of size with the largest at the end referred to as the Captain.
It was very noisy at times with the tractor engines sounding like they were about to explode and rather gusty winds whipping up the straw from the hay bales and blowing it in everyone’s faces. However everyone seemed to being really enjoying themselves.
L’oignon de Roscoff has a delicate skin, good size and an intense flavour that we loved in some of the gorgeous caramelised onion tarts, as well as onion bread, and onion soup.
The onions, we learned, are plaited together in order of size with the largest at the end referred to as the captain. We couldn’t walk away without buying a garland that turned out to be surprisingly heavy!
It was a really lovely end to our Brittany holiday.”
The Fête de l’Oignon de Roscoff will be held this summer on August 19th – 20th 2017