Letter from Paris: Legrand Filles et Fils & more

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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 tryto 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 theiractivities since my book Romantic Paris has been published. If 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 gourmettreasures 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 ofthose 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. Ifyou 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 passionateexperts 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. The 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. A 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, Thirza Vallois Around and About Paris by Thirza Vallois is published by Iliad Books, UK. Romantic Paris by Thirza Vallois is co-published by Interlink (US) andArris Books (UK). To contact Thirza Vallois and/or order her books, please visit herwebsite: www.thirzavallois.com or http://www.wfi.fr/vallois
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