The tap water in France has been safe to drink since the 1950s but the country still sells over 50 kinds of bottled water. The recent droughts, however, has led some brands, like Badoit, to scale back production.
The world’s oldest bottled mineral water, naturally sparkling Châteldon 1650 is nicknamed the ‘Rolls Royce des eaux minérales’. It’s also the rarest, softest, slightly metallic and mineral rich—and hard to find outside of fine restaurants. It comes from the village of Châteldon near Puy de Dôme in the volcanic Auvergne, source of many mineral-rich waters; in 1650, Louis XIV had it bottled and transported to Versailles. Only 700,000 bottles are bottled in glass every year; stocks often run out.
Among the more easily available sparkling mineral waters, there’s Badoit, the oldest, from Saint-Galmier in the Loire Valley (both green and extra bubbly intensément petillante red bottles); Perrier, very bubbly water from Languedoc, in the distinct bottles (une Perrier tranche is a glass of Perrier with a slice of lemon); St-Yorre from the Auvergne with its distinct bicarbonate of soda taste; and Vichy Célestins, the slightly saline mineral water from the spa town of Vichy in the Massif Central.
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