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The charm of Paris is a flirtatious mixture of history and modernity, the old and the new paired to perfection. The Louvre, which formed an axis for the city’s renovation during the Haussmann years, was in actuality a construction site for centuries. Originally built by King Philippe Auguste as a defensive fortress in 1190, it was turned into a Renaissance palace in the 16th century. The palace remained deserted until the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV. After he moved his residence and court from the Louvre to Versailles in 1678, the palace was again neglected until Louis XV took the throne. Converting the Louvre to a public museum came as the result of the French Revolution in 1789.
The juxtaposition of past and present often meet in remarkable layers of Parisian history. By way of illustration, the oldest candle maker in Paris, Claude Trudon, is not only linked to Louis XV, but the exciting new interactive, educational experience and wine bar, Les Caves du Louvre.
In 1643, Trudon opened a small grocery and candle making shop on rue Saint-Honoré. His candles were made from beeswax, and– through a special process– were immaculately white in color, didn’t crack, burn, smoke or splatter and held a steady flame. Of superb quality, they were purchased to light the great churches and palaces during the reign of Louis XIV. On grand occasions, twenty-thousand candles filled candelabras, wall sconces and massive chandeliers transforming the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles into a “corridor of light”.
Trudon’s descendants followed in his footsteps. In 1737 his grandson, Jérôme, became the Royal Candle Manufacturer and sommelier to Louis XV. He lived in his private mansion just a stone’s throw from the Louvre at 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec. At the time a small tunnel connected the wine cellars of the Trudon household with the Louvre. It is here, centuries later, that the cellars were rededicated to celebrate the miracle of wine.
First crafted by France’s ancient Celts along the Mediterranean coast near Montpellier in 525 B.C.E., long before Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, wine is more French than baguettes and croissants. Trudon’s original mansion and 800 square meters of vaulted cellars have now been completely renovated by Nicolas Paradis and Olivier Magny into Les Caves du Louvre, and is among one of the newest must-see venues in Paris’s 1st arrondissement. Here you will discover the secrets of making wine on a journey of the 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, smell and touch) through 5 different, uniquely decorated rooms. You will learn about the terroir, the holy mixture of soil and climate that define the wine regions of Bordeaux, Languedoc, Burgundy, and Champagne, as well as the different flavors that make a wine special. This subterranean, self-guided tour lasts 45 minutes.
To make your experience even more interesting and interactive, smartphones and applications are put at your disposal at the beginning of the tour. After your tour you can choose to have a wine tasting, enhanced by your newly gained knowledge.
Les Caves du Louvre, 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 76 44 00 31. Open weekdays and Saturdays from 10 to 6, Sundays from 2-5. Website: www.cavesdulouvre.com
Visit – 11 €
Visit and tasting with 1 glass of wine – 15 €
Visit and tasting with 3 glasses of wine – 19 €
Visit and tasting with 3 glasses of wine and a bottle with a personalized label – 30 €
Workshops – 75 €
Free for minors under 18 years of age and must be accompanied by an adult. Minors will not be able to taste the wine, but will be offered free grape juice instead.
Languages available for the mobile application: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Lead photo credit : courtesy of the Caves du Louvre