You’d think 18th-century wine cellars once used by Louis XV’s sommelier would be interesting enough to impress people, but I’ve never known Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis to do things half-assed. These young Frenchmen behind the popular wine bar and wine-tasting school O-Château have spent the past 18 months transforming the cellars of the Hôtel de Trudon into a beautiful, high-tech interactive wine experience for the whole family, Les Caves du Louvre.
When you arrive you either download the free iPhone app The French Wine Experience with their Wifi connection or borrow a tablet, which then helps you navigate the spaces dedicated to discovering the smell, touch, sight, sound and, bien sûr, taste of wine. You can spend as much or as little time as you want going from room to room, each decorated in the wine theme. There is a room where you can practice mixing your own wine, which for an extra fee you can have bottled to take home. At the end of the tour those who are at least 18 can opt for a wine and Champagne tasting at the wine bar.
You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy the visit. In fact, it might be more fun if you don’t already know anything, and there’s no need to actually partake if you don’t drink at all (kids will enjoy the interactive learning games). It’s all underground, which gives it a bit of a strange, disoriented feeling when you resurface (well, maybe that depends on how long you hang out in the wine bar). There’s a boutique at the ground level selling wine, accessories, books, games, maps and Cire Trudon candles (the king’s sommelier was also his candle maker).
Les Caves du Louvre
52 rue de l’Arbre Sec, 1st
M° Louvre-Rivoli or Pont Neuf
Tel 01 76 44 00 31
Open daily from 10am-6pm
Admission is €11 for adults, free for kids and teens under 18.
For €15 you get admission and a glass of wine.
For €30 you get admission, three glasses of wine, and your very own bottle you created to take home.
They’re also on Facebook.