Paris and wine: long-standing history
Wine has become a symbol of French gastronomy and nearly everyone will have heard about Burgundy, Bordeaux or champagne. But who would have guessed that long before Paris became the bustling city it is now, it was planted with grapevines! The first vines were planted around 276 and having adjusted perfectly well to the Parisian climate, produced healthy, high quality grapes which later, with the governing hand of the Church, would expand through Paris. During the 13th century and thanks its wine’s good reputation, Paris started exporting to other regions of France and all the way to Northern Europe. In 1662, with the increasing trade of wine, the “Halle aux vins” in Bercy was created.
The 18th century sees the peak of Parisian wine’s production with 42 000 hectares of vineyards managed by over 4 000 wine merchants and 300 townships! It’s greater than the one in Bordeaux or Burgundy! Unfortunately, the golden age of Paris’ wine is short-lived as most of France’s vineyards are destroyed or damaged following insect phylloxera’s outbreak along with urbanization.
To this day, the wine cellars in Bercy are still visible at Bercy Village which has now been transformed into an entertainment place. You will also notice the old railway tracks used at the time to load and unload the wine barrels. As for the vines, some of them have been re-planted in the 1930 and remind the Parisians and visitors of Paris’ greatness in the wine industry.
French wine tasting with Duclot La Cave at Galeries Lafayette
France produces some of the best wines in the world. Anyone with a love of wine who happens to be visiting the capital will certainly enjoy going to a wine tasting to get a better understanding of what it’s all about. Paris, once the capital of wine, is undoubtedly one of the best places to sample some wonderful vintages from all over the country. Duclot La Cave at Galeries Lafayette hosts exclusive wine tasting events during which an experienced sommelier will teach you the techniques of wine tasting, explain the different labels and help you apprehend the subtleties of wine.
From red to white, Rosé to champagne, you will be able to taste a wide selection of wines and bubbles! Of course, if through this experience, you discover a “cru” that you would like to take back home, you might to visit La Cave at Galeries Lafayette Gourmet. La Cave houses around 2 500 different labels offering an exceptional choice of fine wines.
If you would like to pursue your experience, you can go up to Galeries Lafayette’s rooftop bar and restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking Paris’s skyline.
Extending your wine experience through Paris
Paris, wine and food: an ongoing love affair
Generally speaking, the French entertain an ongoing love affair with food and wine and it would be quite unlikely to attend a social gathering in France which doesn’t include a bottle of wine sitting on the table. As a matter of fact, the pairing of food with wine is almost an art in itself. You can’t just drink any wine with any type of food. Enjoying a meal at one of the fine restaurants of Paris is a good way of getting the French feel and give expression to wine.
If your interest runs through the natural, the artisanal, the unusual or the experimental, you could try one of the countless wine bars spread around Paris. This is the chance to try some nice organic wines, focus on one specific vineyard or taste other wines prepared by wine enthusiasts and experts.
One less conventional way of sipping wine is to couple it with the natural beauty of the city over a picnic. During the summer months, it is not unusual to see the Ile de la Cité, the Seine river banks and the parks packed with people enjoying a meal with Paris as a backdrop.
Paris wine museum
If you are interested in learning more about wine-making, its trade and history, then this is the place for you. The museum is set in centuries old cellars that were used during the 16th and 17th centuries by the brothers of the Minimes Monastery to store their wine. In the 1950s, these ancient wine cellars were renovated and used to house the wine of the restaurants of the Eiffel Tower before finally becoming the “Musée du Vin” in 1984.
The wine museum of Paris displays a collection of over 2 000 items that were used for wine-making from Roman times, Middle Ages until today. The collection offers a truly fascinating glimpse into the history of winemaking. At the end of the visit, guests are treated to a glass of wine of course!