Stage one of your journey is over; you’ve reached Paris and checked into your hotel. Now comes the time to relax! In a country famous for its vineyards, what better way to do this than by discovering the wine the city has on offer?
If you’re at a loss as to where to start, wine tasting classes are a good idea. There are several established wine bars offering comprehensive tastings for beginners.
‘Ô Chateau’, located in the 1st arrondissement (district) and just a few minutes from the Louvre, is a large, inviting wine bar with multi-lingual staff on hand. Three private rooms are reserved for tastings classes and they cater to all knowledge levels. They take place on a daily basis for groups of 20-30 people and are taught in English by sommeliers (trained wine tasters). Book ahead as classes fill up quickly! Prices start from €30 per person.
‘La Dernière Goutte’ (“The Last Drop”, 6th arrondissement), specialises in small-production, estate-bottled French wines. Free tastings generally happen on Saturdays when regional suppliers offer samples of their wines. If you’re willing to spend more, group wine tasting classes (for up to ten people) are offered for wine lovers ‘of any level’. Happening every afternoon, group prices start at €295 for a ‘teaser’ course.
The 16th arrondissement is host to The Wine Museum (Musée du Vin). Alongside, it also offers tasting classes several times a year in English at a cost of €59 per person.
If you’re slightly more knowledgeable, you might want to venture further afield into the world of wine and make your own ‘dégustation’ (tasting) discoveries.
The cellars of ‘Les Caves Taillevent’ in the 8th arrondissement are renowned for having one of the best selections of wine. Tastings, always based around a theme, happen on Saturdays at 10am-5pm. Private tastings can also be organised for small groups. Prices for tasting sessions are around the €120-180 mark, but bottles can be purchased from the cellar for as little as €5.
The tiny ‘Les Caves Augé’, also in the 8th, is one of Paris’ oldest wine shops, open since 1850. Due very much to its size, tastings are held on the boulevard outside. Open Monday to Saturday, the tastings tend to happen one Saturday a month, March to July, between 11am and 6pm. Best of all, they are free and without reservations; just be ready for the crowds!
‘Lavinia’, in the 1st arrondissement, aims to be Europe’s largest wine store. Set over several floors, it sells thousands of French and international wines. Sommeliers are on hand to advise choices, from €10 wines to bottles costing six figures. Any bottle purchased can be drunk (for no extra cost) at the restaurant upstairs. Open Monday to Saturday, patrons can discover excellent wines and taste food that is designed to match.
‘Les Caves Legrand, Filles et Fils‘ (2nd arrondissement), around for over 100 years, sells a selection of both domestic and international wines. The wine tasting bar, with a wine menu that changes weekly, is relaxed and the atmosphere unhurried. Regular ‘Tuesday Tasting’ evenings are held, with costs in the area of €130-300.
If you happen to be in Paris at the right time and organise yourself to be in the right place, there are also a number of festivals and fairs that celebrate excellent wine.
La Fête des Vendages de Montmartre (Montmartre’s Harvest Festival) happens every October to celebrate the harvest of the tiny vineyard on Montmartre Hill. The wine produced is limited to 1,700 bottles a year, but celebrations are extensive. Booths offer wine tasting and there are parades, food, music and dancing on offer.
Le Salon Mer et Vigne et Gastronomie visits town at certain dates during the course of the year. Admission is usually €4 and gives visitors the chance to sample regional delicacies and produce. It’s a great opportunity to discover new wines and to educate yourself.
If you’re simply looking to relax with a glass, wine bars are prolific around Paris. They also serve an excellent selection of food alongside a grand selection of wines, allowing you to make gastronomic discoveries too!
‘L’Ecluse’ is a chain of well-located wine bars renowned for specialising in Bordeaux wines. It is expensive but with the bonus of excellent wines. ‘Le Baron Rouge’ (12th arrondissement) refills bottles straight from the casks on offer. It is unusual, terrific for discovering wines and reasonably priced. ‘Le Garde Robe’, in the 1st, specialises in organic wines, which are perfect for the environmentalists and the health aware out there!
There are flights to Paris from the UK daily, making it the perfect city for discovering wine. Whether furthering your knowledge or taking the first steps into wine tasting, there is something to suit you.
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