Thirza Vallois has returned to one of her favourite hidden
nooks in Paris, with an update about Legrand Filles et Fils, a must
address for all wine lovers. For more information about the arcade’s
exciting outlets, turn to her recent publication, Romantic Paris.
Further information about the galerie Vivienne and its neighbourhood is
to be found in Around and About Paris, Volume 1, in the chapter about
the 2nd arrondissement.
The galerie Vivienne, tucked away
between the Palais Royal and place des Victoires, is one of my
favourite arcades in Paris (perhaps it’s actually my favourite; it’s
difficult to always have to establish a hierarchy). So much so,
that, when I am in the area, I never miss an opportunity to detour
here, and have already written about it for Bonjour Paris. This was one
Christmas season, when the arcade was so enchanting, that I simply had
to include it in my story. I usually try
to throw in a stopover
at A Priori Thé to indulge in their delicious pastry, and meanwhile
postpone my intended diet till the next day. Sometimes, I will buy an
old book from the fabulous corner bookshop, where the arcade turns at
right angles, or I might yield to a new piece of clothing at Catherine
Vernoux. This week, however, my destination was Legrand Filles et Fils.
I went there especially to update them for your next trip, as they
have expanded both their premises and their
activities since my book Romantic Paris has been published.
you are a wine person, Leblanc Filles & Fils is a must. For one, it
is amongst France’s oldest grocers and wine merchants, which
started out as a warehouse for La Compagnie des Indes, which imported
all the exotic “goodies” from the east, namely coffee, tea and spices.
The shop at galerie Vivienne opened in 1900, with its main entrance at
1 rue de la Banque. It has remained unchanged since and is one of the
oldest in the city. Four generations of fathers, sons and daughters of
Legrands have made it their mission to share with their clients the
treasures unearthed in the different regions of France. When
Lucien and his daughter Francine were masters of the place in the
1960s, they set out to criss cross France in search of her best
wineries – Bordeaux, Languedoc, Alsace, Champagne…. leaving no stone
unturned. Some of
those wineries, which now enjoy worldwide fame,
such as Selosse in Champagne or Tertre-Roteboeuf in Saint-Emilion, were
first put on the map by the Legrands.
The Legrand cellar
has more that 4,000 references to choose from, ranging from excellent
everyday wines to rare vintages, and now also excellent foreign wines,
in keeping with the open spirit of adventure of the family, Spanish and
Chilean ones among them (It is this open-mindedness that has enticed
the house to hire foreign employees, such as Emi Sato who looks after
Japanese clients. In other words, if you don’t know any French, there
are English-speaking people around). Wine can be delivered to your
home, even if you are living abroad. If
you are a wine collector and
have no storage facilities, Legrand will happily store your bottles in
their private vaulted cellars, located underneath the galerie Vivienne.
And if you want to acquire or further your knowledge, Legrand has
opened a school, whose team of passionate
will guide your palate through their wine tasting courses.
Although most of the scheduled courses are designed for locals and are
therefore taught in French, courses in English are also available
occasionally, and can also be individually designed by prior
arrangement: Anything can be tailor-made at Leblanc. So just enquire.
newly expanded premises include a wine bar, where you can enjoy
excellent wines even by the glass, accompanied by cheese and
charcuterie. As soon as the weather warms up, the wine bar spills
outdoors, underneath the delightful glass roof of the antiquated
arcade, (open between 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm, except Sundays). There is a
great gift shop, which carries beautiful wine-related items
-thermometers, Riedel glass decanters, Laguiole corkscrews…. and a
wide selection of books to satisfy all gourmet readers and feast their
eyes with mouth-watering photos. However, the old shop still
remains the backbone of Leblanc. You can rely on the expertise of the
likes of Pascal blindfolded. I always let him guide me and have never
disappointed my hosts, no matter how demanding or spoilt, when offering
them a gift bought at Legrand, be it wine, Champagne, or eau de vie, be
it foie gras, chocolate or other Nonettes from Dijon.
visit to Leblanc is an entry to the heart of France in the heart of
Paris, where the appreciation of food and wine are upgraded to become
both a love affair and an art.
A la prochaine,
Around and About Paris by Thirza Vallois is published by Iliad Books, UK.
Romantic Paris by Thirza Vallois is co-published by Interlink (US) and
Arris Books (UK).