After reading the book Bright Lights Paris, written for people who want to travel to Paris in style and visit all the hidden places only Parisians know about, as well as the top sites, I decided that wine tasting would be a perfect activity to celebrate my sister’s 18th birthday. And not just wine tasting, but wine tasting at the renowned Ô Chateau, with a full page dedicated to the company in the book, plus a special mention from Meghan Markle who also wrote about how much she loved it. Located off a little street not far from the Louvre and right in the centre of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, it offers 2-hour wine tasting sessions in English with a professional wine connaisseur.
Olivier Magny is the guy who set it all up, young and very French however speaks perfect English and was the one to give us the oenology experience around France’s wine regions. You sit around a table in a cosy wine cellar with wine glasses eagerly waiting in front of you, and you start off the tasting by going around the table with an ice-breaker – who you are, where you’re from and what you’re doing in Paris. Slightly off-putting for those who don’t like to speak aloud in front of a group, but Olivier is very easy-going and put everyone at ease. Also by the end of the tasting and 5 small glasses of wine later you’re all chatting and laughing anyway.
People asked me if it was a “proper” wine-tasting, as in did we swill the wine in our mouths and spit it out after. Honestly, Olivier says that’s up to you, you can either just take a sip or two of each, or you can enjoy the whole glass. Now the Ford family doesn’t let good wine go to waste, so it was obvious what we chose to do. We selected the tasting that introduced us to wines made in different regions around France, and it was a very detailed and very well presented, easy to follow and just really interesting. I learnt things about wine I never knew before – about how they make it, label it, the different types such as bio and sparkling wines, all according to the different French regions.
If you’re stuck on things to do in Paris, or have done all the museums and main sites and just fancy something a little different, I would certainly recommend Ô Chateau Wine tasting. Magny has also written several books in both English and French all about Parisian and French culture – my Mum got me his signed book for Christmas WTF: What the French? which I’m currently reading now and learning a lot more about how the French live!
A 2 hr wine-tasting session at Ô Chateau is €55 for adults and €49 for students. Ô Chateau, 68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001