Wednesday, 6 June 2012

French diversity

A visit to Le Touquet, nicknamed Paris Plage turned out to be an eyeopener on more than one level.

We were there for a Beethoven 9th performed by students of the conservatoires of Madrid, Riga and Ljubljana with the London Philharmonic Choir under an Armenian conductor with soloists from the UK, Sweden and Hungary. In other words the only French people were in the audience.

This rather extreme cosmopolitanism extended to the wine shops of Le Touquet where an eclectic selection from all over France and outre-mer was to be found. This is surely down to the fact that we are in an area miles from any wine production. As in the UK, this leads to greater diversity. It may be catching; even the cheese shops have only a modest local selection with the majority from all over the country. Chauvinism is clearly not what it used to be.

Going back to the wine shops for a moment, we made a truly remarkable discovery. On sale to the good burghers of Le Touquet or their Parisian weekend visitors was a bottle of 100% Chenanson from Rousillon. Chenanson comes from a crossing of Grenache and Jurancon Noir. Jurancon Noir is no relation at all of Jurancon Blanc but is in turn a crossing of Folle Noir (or Fuelle Noir) - a grape used to excellent effect in Bellet and Malbec. One can go far in Paris without coming across such a rarity but in Paris Plage it seems everything is possible.

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