Interview: Fanny Heucq, champagne afficionado at Dilettantes, Paris 75006
This article is in English. Click here to read it in French.
Do you remember your very first glass of champagne? For the French, it’s a rite of passage. Fanny Heucq remembers hers very well – not surprising for someone who now brings the joy of champagne to the residents and visitors of Paris. With Dilettantes, Fanny has established a place where customers can enjoy high-quality champagne while learning about each variety.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Fanny to talk cuvée, brut, appreciating champagne and life as the founder of Dilettantes. She also shared some of her favourite places in the French captial – from quiet spots for a bite to weekend escapes from the city.
Fanny, how would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, genuine and communicative.
Your parents were winemakers, so one would assume that you knew a lot about champagne from an early age. Did you always know that you wanted to work in the same field as your parents?
Not at all. I wanted to make my own way in the world, first by attending business school and later on by choosing a career in international marketing. It was only then that I realised I wanted to do something more with my life and to use my skills to promote something I am passionate about: the diverse range of champagne produced by winemakers.
Why open Dilettantes in the 6ème arrondissement when you live in the suburbs of Paris?
Champagne is probably the most famous type of wine in the world – and the most misunderstood. My objective was to market champagne terroir to affluent French and international clients. Paris was the obvious choice. It is the most iconic French city and the world’s most visited metropolis. It is also the city where all new ideas are tried and tested.
I was looking for a fairly bourgeois Parisian neighbourhood; one where people regularly drink champagne. I went to several neighbourhoods before I stumbled upon this venue with its magnificent seventeenth-century vaulted cellar located in front of a famous tea house. It was love at first sight.
Do you remember your first glass of champagne?
Yes, I remember it very well – it was my fourteenth birthday. I did not like it at all. I wondered how I was going to ever share my family’s passion if I did not like champagne! Fortunately, tastes change.
Where did the idea of opening Dilettantes come from?
I began to realise after a while that people knew very little about champagne, and sometimes nothing at all about the diversity of champagne produced by winemakers.
Dilettantes seemed like the perfect solution, in that it provides a setting that offers a wide range of high-quality champagne from a range of winemakers. A world away from brands and labels, it serves as a link between those who produce champagne and those who love to drink it.
Why the name ‘Dilettantes’?
It comes from the Italian, meaning ‘he who revels in pleasure’.
What is your favorite champagne?
My favourite champagne depends on my mood. The good news is that there is such a variety of champagnes out there that I can change champagne as often as I change my mood!
Have you any champagne-related anecdotes to share with us?
When I travel, I always take a bottle of champagne with me. Once, I visited a village beside the Great Wall of China with some friends. We ended up sharing a bottle with some villagers who had most likely never had a drink of champagne in their lives. It was a special moment – just as it should be every time we drink champagne.
What is the most enjoyable part about working in Dilettantes?
My greatest enjoyment comes from finding meaning in my work. My goal is to inspire people who want to learn about champagne. I also enjoy working with passionate winemakers who really put their heart and soul into what they do.
What does Dilettantes offer its customers?
Dilettantes offers choice, first and foremost. Customers can pick from over 130 different types of champagne – all produced by artisans who love their country and their work. We also offer a personalised service in a simple and elegant setting.
Favourite places in Paris
EatFogon – a gourmet tapas bar located not far from Dilettantes (Quai des Grands Augustins). I love going there and trying out different dishes.
45 quai des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris
Métro: Saint-Michel Pasta Linea – This is a tiny Italian trattoria located on rue Turenne in the heart of the Marais region. The owners travel to Italy to select the very best produce like il pecorino al tartuffo.
9 rue de Turenne, 75004 Paris, France
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels on rue Lobineau which has a great atmosphere. It only sells wine. 7 rue Lobineau, 75006 Paris Métro: Mabillon or Odéon Mariage Frères on rue des Grands Augustins for tea. No need to queue here – it is much quieter than anywhere in the Marais! My favorite blend of tea is Kaori Cha – a green tea with grains of fried rice sprinkled with Matcha.
30 rue du Bourg Tibourg, 75004 Paris
Métro: Saint-Paul or Hôtel de Ville
Shop…Since I work during business hours, I like to take a Sunday stroll down rue des Francs Bourgeois. For food shopping, I love the marché d’Aligre (which only sells fresh produce and is well worth a visit). For chocolate, I visit my friend Stephane Roy who owns a chocolate shop located on rue de Longchamp. He sells chocolates and caramels made from 100% cocoa that are to die for.
27 rue de Longchamp, 75116 Paris
Métro: Trocadéro, Boissière, or Iéna
I love the very cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Bellevilloise.
For a day trip
To the Champagne region of course! We arrange tours at Dilettantes for our customers.
Fanny, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. It was a pleasure to meet you – and of course, to visit Dilettantes!Dilettantes 22 rue Savoie, 75006 01 70 69 98 68 Métro: Saint-Michel Image credits: Courtesy of Dilettantes