It is a well-known fact that the Louvre was once the home of the French royal court, but did you know that the king had a wine collection that grew so large that it required its own building and cellars, connected to the museum by a network of secret underground tunnels?
Below, learn about the Louvre’s most delicious secret: the best wine tasting in Paris!
Vin was a serious affair for the French court, particularly for King Louis the XVth, who boasted over 25 royal merchant suppliers and 300 workers dedicated to tending to his thirsty palette.
The sheer volume of wine flowing into the king’s collection became so great that his reserve required moving into a separate area, and a magnificent mansion with impressive cellars that could house his extensive collection was built just a few streets down from the Louvre. One feature, however, was missing: a way for the bottles to be discreetly brought back and forth to the palace.
Back then, the streets of Paris were rough, filled with opportunistic drunks and thieves, and the king’s men feared for the safety of both themselves and the wine while transporting it. An ingenious solution was devised to get around – or, more accurately, below – this problem: a network of secret tunnels were dug out, linking the cellars to the palace.
Today, the actual tunnels are no longer accessible, but the cellars themselves have enjoyed a new lease on life since opening to the public in 2015 with a new mission: to host what can be argued is the best – and certainly most royal – wine tasting in Paris. Entirely renovated and updated with modern technology, the Louvre’s vaulted cellars are compared to something of a wine-themed park, spread out over nearly 9,000 square feet across three levels, with 11 different rooms offering visitors unique experiences.
The journey starts in le chai: a holding area where oak barrels filled with wine (of 15 different grape varieties) are left to age in ideal levels of humidity and temperature.
Next, you’ll make your way to la salle des terroirs, dedicated to the importance of terroir in the wine making process (“terroir” is a French term that refers to the soil, climate and general natural environment in which something is grown and is considered of utmost importance when it comes to quality). In this room, touch is the sense to use, as you feel your way around the different types of soils and rocks that grow the beloved grapes.
Smell is king in the salle des arômes (aroma room), which is beautifully decorated with driftwood and offers several playful activities designed to stimulate and sharpen your sense of smell with rich aromas. This is a welcome warm-up before what comes next – la salle de dégustation.
This is the tasting room, where things get serious, and where les caves du Louvre’s reputation for being the best wine tasting in Paris becomes evident. Amid stunning decor – a fusion of traditional style and modern amenities – you’ll be invited to taste your picks from a selection of over 1,000 wines. The tasting takes place around a huge table made from a solid piece of wood, complete with “spitting bowls” (we suggest taking advantage of these, if you hope to walk out of the cellars on your own two feet!).
Once you’ve tested all the wines that you desire, you’ll be ready for the final experience offered at les caves du Louvre: creating your very own wine! Guided by a passionate sommelier, you’ll get to sample and choose the grape varieties you wish to use, then you’ll blend them, try the mixtures and adjust your creation until perfected. When you’re happy with what you’ve made, it will be bottled and labeled – ready for you to take home as the perfect souvenir.
You’ll be walking out of the best wine tasting in Paris with your very own wine, brimming with new knowledge. Careful on the stairs!
Les Caves du Louvre
52 rue de l’arbre sec, 75001 Paris