Guide to the Loire regions

Orléans


Vinaigre d’Orléans

- N’oubliez pas que le vinaigre d’Orléans est sans rival!

- Don’t forget that the vinegar of Orleans is unrivaled!

                                                                            - Curnonsky


It would be churlish to ignore, whilst discussing the wines of Orléans, the historic importance of the city as France’s capital for the production of wine vinegar and, as a consequence, the source of many a tiresome joke for local vignerons. 

As the northern most location on the Loire and the closest point to Paris, much wine arrived into Orléans by boat. After being offloaded, it was then transported by road to the capital. Any wine that might have turned piqué by the time it had arrived in the town was jettisoned here and sold to the burgeoning number of vin aigre (sour wine) merchants. By 1394 the vinegar makers had established their own Guild of vinegar, mustard and sauce makers in order to protect the interests of their industry and exactly two hundred years later, Henri IV recognised the fact by issuing a royal patent, clearly defining the production techniques needed to suppress poor quality imitations. For 500 years Orléans was synonymous with vinegar which was prized also for its medicinal properties, as an eau-de-toilette, or as a thirst quencher when diluted to water.

In 1797 there were 300 vinegar producers and merchants in the city, most of them established on the rue Faubourg Bannier at the northern limits of the town. By the mid 1800s, with the arrival of the railway and the perfecting of industrial methods of production, Orléans started to loose its market and the decline of the industry was inevitable. Today, there is only one surviving source: Martin Pouret, a 6th generation producer who continue to run their business from their original premises on the rue Faubourg Bannier (see eating and sleeping section). 

 

 

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