Checking out the wines at
the Calais Vins cellar
Foody travellers to northern France will know and savour the
name Philippe Olivier.
It is synonymous with cheese, all sorts of cheese, from the
gently aromatic mild to the pongy powerful.
I met him and sampled his expertise many years ago. The
mouth-watering memory lingers on.
Now this respected cheese maker has extended his influence. His
brand is on a new fromagerie complementing the offerings of wine
store Calais Vins and its bakery, Pain & Lavain, on the
outskirts of Calais, just a short hop from ferry and tunnel.
A natural combination - wine, bread and cheese.
And, as to be expected, the manager of the new
fromagerie, Marc Facchinetti, is no novice. After working in some
of France's top restaurants, he has spent the past five years under
the careful guidance of the master himself.
Marc has been keen to set up on his own for some time and welcomes
the support of the Olivier name and the enterprising owner of
Calais Vins, Jerome Pont. The aim is to appeal to locals and
visitors with lots of regional cheeses as well as varieties from
Jerome Pont is no stranger to British visitors, who have been
tempted by his chat, charm and excellent range of wines for many
years. Some good prices too.
Calais Vins also has a variety of beers and spirits.
Although I have learned and am quite happy to do so, you don't have
to take Jerome's word for what's best. A tasting bar will help you
to make up your own mind and there are English-speaking staff on
hand if needed.
You can keep up to date with the wine offers and place orders
on the web site.
Want to try your choice with some food? You can take a glass to
sample in the bistro of the next-door bakery, which opened last
It serves a variety of what you would expect from a good French
boulangerie, as well as sandwiches and snacks to take away or eat
in. You can also get tea, coffee and cold drinks.
Jerome is enthusiastic about the cheese shop. He sees it as a
natural addition to the wine and bakery businesses.
There is a wide selection of delicious breads at Pain &
He says: "We are delighted to be associated with the brand of
Philippe Olivier. We now have the perfect combination on one site,
which will appeal to our existing customers and hopefully attract
some new ones."
And don't worry if you're returning home with dwindling resources.
He's got a 24-hour cash point.
Will it work? While some have disappeared, there is still a number
of wine outlets and boulangeries in and around Calais, but few
This combination, the wine side already popular among Brits, is
worth a try - and Jerome keeps on going in spite of harsh economic
Calais Vins is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm and on
Sundays from 10am to 7pm. The bakery is open every day from 7.30am
The fromagerie's opening times are Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to
1.00pm and 2.30pm to 7.30pm; Saturday 9.30am to 7.30pm and Sunday
10am to 1pm.
The shops are just off the A16 motorway at junction 44 (Calais St
Pierre) and, at this time of year, the ferry companies and
Eurotunnel have some attractive day-trip fares.