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The summer Olympic Games in Paris

What's wine got to do with it?

Although we have committed with some trepidation and uncertainty about how things will actually play out, Paris Wine Walks will be hosting wine walks in Paris during the Olympic Games this summer (26 July - 11 August), with a few days off when mobility is reduced, or sporting events take place in the areas we normally walk.

We have been variously enthused by the potential influx of visitors, and concerned that the sites of said visitors will be set only on gold medals, leaving us to endure nothing other than the presumed chaos such mega events have on daily life. But it’s still early days, we say to ourselves reassuringly (unconvincingly)…

Of course we hope everyone will come, and would be especially happy to share some of the best of Paris with you, away from all the brouhaha in the cool green shade of the city’s gardens surrounded by vines and ripening grapes. But you can also do that right now, ahead and away from the crowds, in what currently seems to be an unusually quiet Paris.

Please take a second to fill in the poll below, and if you are coming to Paris this summer, send us an email so we can help make your stay as fun as possible.


Will you be attending the Paris Olympic Games?

If you are attending and you’re still looking for a place to stay, we may be able to help with that too. Contact us for details. If you are not attending, you can still read your way through ‘The Hidden Vineyards of Paris’ by buying the book.

And now for the real subject of this post.

Wine and the Olympic Games

Alcohol gets a bad rap when it comes to athletics and sport in general. Which is both laudable and reasonable for those competing. But for spectators as well? Total prohibition seems a bit excessive. As a result of the Law Evin (introduced in 1991 in France) the sale of alcohol is prohibited at all sporting events, except where food is being catered. So if you’re a VIP in a private box that serves food, you’ll be able to swill Champagne, wine, beer or whatever your heart desires. But you’ll also have to pay dearly for it. As an example, entry into the Stade de France lounge for the men’s 100m Final will cost €4,900 ($5,350) per person.

Historically, wine has been very much a part of sporting events. In the early Olympic Games of ancient Greece, which began in 776 BC, wine played a significant role in both religious and social contexts. The ancient Greeks (much like the natural wine lovers of today) revered wine as a gift from the gods, and it held a central place in their culture, including athletic competitions.

Wine was commonly consumed by athletes as a part of their training regimen during the ancient Olympic Games. There was no question about wine providing energy and strength, and athletes would often drink it, in moderation, before competitions to enhance their performance. Additionally, wine was also used in religious ceremonies dedicated to the Greek god Dionysus - the god of wine, fertility, life-giving fluids (blood, sweat and tears, which significantly all have a role in athletic competitions) and theatre. These ceremonies often took place alongside the athletic competitions, further solidifying the connection between wine and the Olympics.

In addition to its role in training and religious ceremonies, wine was also an integral part of the social aspects of the ancient Olympic Games. Spectators would gather to watch the competitions and celebrate with food and drink, including wine. Drinking wine during the games was seen as a way to enhance the overall experience and foster a sense of camaraderie among participants and spectators alike.

But that was then. The role of wine in the Olympic Games has evolved over time, and in the modern era, the consumption of alcohol, including wine, by athletes during competition is strictly prohibited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Concerns about performance enhancement and fairness are at the heart of this, with prohibition reflecting these changing attitudes towards alcohol and sports, as well as greater emphasis placed on the health and safety of athletes.

There is one notable exception in the sporting world to this formalised prohibition, which is the Medoc Marathon (not an Olympic event, taking place this year on 7 September) where runners consume wine throughout. More on that in a later post…

Despite the ban on alcohol, wine continues to play a symbolic role in the Olympic Games. In recent years, wine has been featured as a cultural symbol during the opening and closing ceremonies, representing the heritage and traditions of the host country (go France!). Additionally, wine-related events and promotions may be organised in conjunction with the Games to celebrate the cultural significance of wine in the host region (enter Paris Wine Walks!).

All in all, while the direct consumption of wine by athletes during the Olympic Games is no longer permitted, its historical significance and cultural importance endure, making it a cherished part of the Olympic legacy.

In celebration of the Games, we're planning special wine tastings that pay homage to the spirit of athleticism and global unity. Join us for themed tastings inspired by the five Olympic rings, where each wine represents a different grape varietal or a different region of France. Our Sparkling Wine Splash is the perfect choice for toasting the triumphs of the Games. With Paris as our playground and wine as our muse, the possibilities are endless.

At Paris Wine Walks, we believe that every vine and every glass of (real) wine tells a story – of heritage, culture, and the uncompromising pursuit of excellence. As the world converges in Paris for the Olympic Games, we invite you to discover the hidden vineyards of Paris, celebrating the thrill of victory with a glass of natural wine in hand.

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