***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #14: August 27, 2001***
* From the Home Bureau *
End of August always signals "La Rentré" as the school supply sections in stores start to resemble a rugby scrum full of children. But the end of summer isn't all about going back to work and no fun. It also signals the beginning of the wine sales, where the wine sections in stores start to resemble a rugby scrum full of adults. Nah, it's not that bad. Not really. If you're planning a trip to Paris during the month of September, take the chance to stock up on a few bottles at a great price. If you go over your duty free limit, just drink a few bottles with fellow passengers at the airport lounge. I guarantee it will make you the most popular person on the plane (share with the flight attendants and maybe they'll sneak you into business class). The good thing about living in France is being able to buy large quantities of the wine you like at good prices. The down side is being able to buy large quantities (do we really need another box of Côte du Rhône?). Below are a few wine-related links and tips for your oenological pleasure. -H
* Wine Vacations in France *
French Wine Explorers offer tours that visit the best large and small French wineries, and even include a wine tasting dinner and wine bar tour of Paris. Custom-designed private tours are available. The English-speaking resident guides are experts in wine fluent in French (sounds obvious, but you've really gotta check these days):
* Rare Dinners for Wine Lovers *
If you really want to splash out on a special occasion, Wine Dinners is a French group that organizes gourmet meals with a selection of ten vintage wines. Really vintage. Most of the bottles are older than me, and quite a few are older than my mother. One on the list is even from 1828. It's not cheap, expect to pay anywhere from 3600ff to 8000ff. A real once-in-a-lifetime treat (or twice if you can stand it). The site is in English and French, take a look around at their menus, the wine museum, and photos from past events:
* Top Five Places to Buy Wine *
For service, price and selection, try any of these methods:
- Direct from the wine growers. Yes, this is an obvious one, but people tend to forget that once they're in France. You not only get to taste the different years and types of wine, you learn a lot more about what you're drinking than you would from anywhere else. You save on shipping, but you have to get there yourself. If you're in the Rhône area, check out the site for the Chateau de Tuilerie: http://www.chateautuilerie.com/index.html
- From "negociants" (wine merchants). Wine merchants buy from the growers and then resell them in bulk at a decent discount for you. They usually ship anywhere, and most have websites and catalogues with the latest specials. Millésima is one of the well-known merchants, located in Bordeau: http://www.millesima.com/en/index.asp
- At the local "Caviste" or wine specialist. Wine specialist shops aren't the least expensive, but the advice and choice helps you avoid making big boo boo's. I always trusted my local caviste to suggest a good wine for whatever I was cooking that night. In Paris you'll see Nicolas shops all over the place, they're one of the more common cavistes. Visit their cute site: http://www.nicolas.tm.fr
- At wine fairs. Mr. Hall and I get most of our really good wine at fairs, including our wedding wine and Champagne. We like 'foires' and 'salons' because you can taste and compare many different wines all in one place, and there are usually good discounts for bulk purchases. Just try and remember to spit or you won't last very long! November and April are good months for wine fairs all over France. Check the Pariscope schedule when you're in Paris, or visit the permanent salon of independent growers at 215 rue d'Aubervilliers (18th arr., Metro Porte de la Chapelle).
- And by internet. If you're not able to buy wine while you're in France, this is the best option. Even if you live here you can find good deals on the internet, lots of information (usually in many languages), and the choice can't be beat. Downside? You can't taste it. Good if you know what you like. Here are a few sites listed on the Secrets of Paris website: http://www.suite101.com/linkcategory.cfm/4820/6987
You shouldn't just go to the supermarket in Paris and choose one with a pretty label, but if you know what you want, most of the big stores are having their sales in September and October, including: Carrefour, the Grand Epicerie du Bon Marché, Monoprix, and the Savour Club.
* Where the French Are *
Looking to meet some Parisians in a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere? 'Les Jeudis d'Eté' are weekly Thursday get-togethers around Paris organized by the website Bidule.org (means 'thingamabob'), and they've been so popular that they'll probably continue through the fall as well. To participate, go to their website on Wednesday to get directions to the new spot (usually a park or grassy area), take along a bottle of something, a cup, a bottle opener if necessary, and snacks if you wish. It's basically a big ol' group aperitif out in the open air. What better way to practice your French? http://www.bidule.org/jeudisdelete.htm
* The Taste of Southern France in Paris *
Côte Sud is a French magazine that covers everything about southern France from home décor to arts and the latest restaurants. They're a pretty good resource for places where French people actually eat, so I'm going to deviate from my regular restaurant reviews, and give you one of theirs that I haven't tested yet (but I will next month!): L'Origan is a restaurant specializing in cuisine from the south of France, so you'll find wines from the Rhône, rose and lavender ice cream from Grasse, pears from Provence marinated in wine, olives and tapenade from Nice, and melon liqueur from Cavaillon. Worth a peek for something different: L'Origan, 24 bis Rue Saint-Gilles in the Marais. Menus from 110ff, closed Saturday afternoon and Sudays.Tel: 01-42-72-18-77.
* Suite101 Article Update! *
Back in April I wrote about where to go in Paris for perfume and cosmetics (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/4820/66980). The latest place to be seen in the city happens to be a make-up bar called Viseart, located in the trendy bar-hopping district of the 11th arrondissement. In a club lounge type setting, you can get anything from standard classic or funky 'night out' make-up session for 80ff. If you buy the products the session is free. A cool place to go with friends between the bar and the club, Viseart is open every Friday from 8pm until 11pm, starting again September 8.
Viseart Beauty Bar
72 bis Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th arr.
* The Latest at Suite101.com *
Carolyn just moved to Paris and wrote to me asking where to walk her two Old English Sheepdogs. The August article, "Pooches in Paris: A Dog's Delight" is for everyone who has a dog in Paris, or hopes to bring theirs with them to Paris on vacation. That adorable little doggy in the photo is my Little Lena (don't let that innocent look fool ya, she's a little devil!):
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