Post from Paris: La Cave de Mattias

Post from Paris: La Cave de Mattias

Maxwell Ryan
Apr 18, 2007

Mattias choosing a bottle

Paris apartments tend to lack built-in closets, but often include a windowless individual self-storage unit in the basement known as "une cave".

If the cave is unfit for human habitation, with its lack of natural light and ventilation and average temperatures often in the 50s, it's a ready-made wine cellar, and a popular target for wine-savvy thieves...

The cave at the end of the hall.

So Mattias -- a wine enthusiast who wanted to build a DIY cellar in his eight-square-meter (86-square-foot) cave two floors below ground level -- invested in a reinforced steel door. He picked up weight-bearing metal shelves in the basement of the BHV and stocked up at the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Ind├ępendants de Paris, a bi-annual wine-tasting event where you can buy direct from 900 independent French producers.

But he found an elegant solution to his wine storage problem one afternoon while browsing the annual pre-Christmas brocante on the rue de Bretagne. Perched on the sidewalk was a 19th-century wrought-iron wine armoire. The brocanteur told him that the giant locking wine rack had come from a chateau in the French countryside, where the master of the house kept his collection safe from the hired help.

Mattias uses the BHV shelves for everyday wine, and is slowly growing a collection of more precious sleeping bottles to be opened in years to come.

"It's a work in progress," says Mattias. "To have a really nice representation of all the wine regions of France, you need 300 bottles."

- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France

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