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No doubt, the current COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected everyone and every sector of the global economy, one way or the other. This month, we will like to dwell on the impact of COVID-19 on the wine industry in France, particularly on Paris wine merchants. How are they coping with the challenges brought by the dreaded virus?
The first industry in France that was hit hard by the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 virus was tourism. France, particularly Paris, is one of the world's best destinations. Every year, millions of people from all over the world pour into the city's vineyards and cavistes, to drink wine in cafes and go to restaurants. You can call Paris the “wine city.”
Until recently, the majority of Paris wineries and merchants sell 25% of their wines directly to visitors. These direct sales saw the wine sector generates more than 5 billion Euros to the French tourism industry that has an annual output of $60.7 billion for 2019. It was a glorious source of revenue for many family cellar owners, and especially for Parisian wine merchants.
The previous and recent travel restrictions put in place by the French government to tackle the spread of the virus put an immediate and complete stop to every form of wine tourism. Paris has become less or more an empty city, a shadow of its formal self.
Tourists are no longer coming to the city like before, and most Paris wine merchants have suspended public tasting of wines in a bid to protect themselves from the virus, and keep to government-imposed strict confinements.
While the French government has provided $19.4 billion relief package for businesses in the tourism sector, several of Paris most prominent wine merchants have also adopted different methods of handling the effect of COVID-19.
Regarded as the grandmother of all wine merchants in Paris, Legrand Filles Et Fils, founded by Lucien Legrand, started its business in 1945. It was the first wine merchant in Paris to introduce his wine directly into the market from the areas where the wines are produced. This merchant is regarded as the founder of the Parisian Beaujolias trend.
While a Japanese company has since taken ownership of the business, Legrand Filles et Fils remains one of the most famous wine merchants in Paris.
Following the impact of the covid-19 pandemic and the government response, Legrand Filles et Fils closed down their flagship and direct store-to-customer sales points until further notice.
But, to ensure that their customers don't lose track of their favorite wines, the company resorted to selling "survival wine packages" that include a list of a customer's famous wines, which is sent to the customer delivery address after placing an order with the company.
Legrand Filles Et Fils believed that Covid-19 confinement shouldn't create boredom, even though you can't go to your favorite wine shop. The company is also offering special quarantine offer for clients who order via mail/online.
Located in-between Madeleine and Opera, the 1999-born Lavinia is Paris biggest wine shop, with its store building covering more than three floors. At Lavinia, wine lovers can choose from a wide range of 6500 wines—the majority of which are French-made but also comprises of quality wines from 29 different countries that include Spain, Italy, Australia, South Africa, and many more.
Following the arrival of Covid-19, Lavinia has suspended all point of physical wine tasting. However, a face mask is a must for people who are visiting, and due to the Covid-19, visitors are encouraged to spend no more than 1-2 hours to avoid overcrowding. The company is also delivering wine online or via telephone order to customers anywhere in the world.
Designed as part of the famous Bon Marche, this wine merchant occupies about 6,000 square feet wine-selling point. Besides, the place isn't just renowned for its numerous wine selection opportunities; it's also a charming location to relax and enjoy what the best of wines have for you.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris doubles as a famous grocery, wine and spirit merchant in Paris.
Even with the lockdown in France, La Grande Epicerie de Paris is still open and serving customers uninterrupted. Thanks to the professionalism and engagement of the store's employees.
Comprehensive protective measures such as maintenance of safe distancing between employees and between customers and employees, the use of hand sanitizers, gloves and masks, have helped maintained top safety standard.
Also, plexiglass barriers mounted for checkout employees contribute more to the safety process adopted by the company. Staffs are encouraged to use alternative means of public transportation such as bicycles and taxis, while the merchant reimburses the costs.
Another of Paris most popular wine merchant that also serve foods. The shop is situated close to the Louvre and loaded with hundreds of delicious local French wines plus vins d'auteur (a varietal or winery's signature). While it isn't the largest of Paris wine merchants, thousands of people frequent the shop weekly due to its cozy atmosphere. You can enjoy your bottle as a take-a-way or on-site.
With the arrival of Covid 19, However, face masks are a must when shopping for your favourite wine at Le Garde Robe. All staffs are required to wear face masks too. Guests and staffs must also use hand sanitizers when entering or leaving the premises. There are also regular temperature checks carried out on all staffs of the wine merchant. All tables in the shop are mainly kept apart from each other in line with social distance rules. Lastly, employees must wash their hands regularly. As for sales, they're not the same as they were in the pre-Covid-19 era.
Carrefour City is one of the world's largest retail shopping merchants, with thousands of stores spread across the globe. As with their many stores in other parts of the world, Carrefour's City has more than 50 stores in Paris that will take care of your wines, beers, and spirits needs. They offer some of the cheapest, finest and expensive wines at any of the Carrefour's supermarkets in Paris.
Carrefour old about 80% of its supermarket stakes in China to a Chinese company in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the company is holding its own in the French market. It has significantly upgraded it's 'In Drive' and 'Home Delivery' system of marketing to sideline the Effect of Covid-19. Carrefour has also made it mandatory for staffs and customers to wear a mask while shopping and when picking up their orders in drive or from delivery at home.
Known for the fighting spirit of its proprietor, Bruno Quenioux, Philovino is one of Paris most famous wine merchants. Philovino's fine winery has been a sort of attraction of thousands of visitors in and out of Paris. The merchant store is situated at the 6th Place d'Etienne d'Orves, 75009, Paris arrondissement, a hub for lovers of organic and biodynamic wine taste.
As with most other wine merchants in Paris, Philovino isn't finding it friendly with the recent Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown confinements. With the closure of bars and cafes, wine supplies have been on its lowest for Philovino. However, the company has been able to maintain its place with government funds and little supply to some hotels and food/grocery stores allowed to open. Full store-public sales will resume as from 15th October 2020.
Here is a famous trio of shops where wines are served along with food accompaniments. At Des Mets Des Vins, more than one thousand wine and spirits reverence await your pick. It is the perfect place to find your favourite wine and food pairing, meaning you don't have to go elsewhere for your favourite dish. There is better alignment of glass and plates elsewhere—everything is spread before your eyes.
The better part is that, despite the recent Covid-19 lockdown, you'll still enjoy your best wine along with your favourite food. That is because; merchants involved in wine and drinks are permitted to continue serving the public. However, you will have to do so under strict confinement rules. Without face mask, you won't be allowed entrance into the Des Mets des Vins shop centre located at 20, rue d'Aligre, 75012, Paris. Not more than two people are allowed on a table, and home delivery is another good way the company is keeping self-isolating customers happy.
Though we're living at a time when Covid-19 doesn't want you to express yourself freely, you still can bask in the euphoria of enjoying your most precious wine. So, when next you visit Paris, stop by one of those wine merchants and savor the taste of your favorite bottle.
Got questions or better suggestion? Feel free to leave a comment below. Together, we can drink safely with the biggest wine merchants in Paris.