Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Taste of Perrier

In all our travels around le Gard, we have encountered very few tourist traps. I doubt the French would tolerate Waldrug or the Corn Palace (I’m looking at you South Dakota). At times, however, I think they can be overly sympathetic to National icons past their prime. This was the case with the Perrier bottling plant and château.

When ordering water in Europe, the waiter is likely to ask, “with gas or without.” In Denmark, a bubbly mineral water called danskvand is the default. It’s hard to say where this trend was started, but the Perrier brand has certainly won the international name recognition award. They’ve even managed to convince some gullible Frenchmen that the carbonated drink provides suitable refreshment after athletic activities.

Perrier is bottled locally, just outside Montpellier. It’s said that M. Perrier discovered the natural spring at the very location that the plant continues to operate. He also built a nice little mansion, which now houses the Perrier advertising museum. However, the surrounding gardens are actually the most interesting part of the visitor’s center.

We did manage to sneak into a tour group long enough to see a video of the bottling process. However, the actual plant tour is only available by special reservation. One can only imagine the secrets that might be found within ;)

It’s clear that attempts have been made over time to modernize the visitor center, but the only area in which it truly excels is in the unintentional comedy of a brand struggling to remain relevant. Like zoinks, if you don’t drink enough refreshing Perrier on a hot day, your Volkswagon mini-bus is likely to melt. And I think the Russian ad campaign sounded something like, “Drink Perrier, it’s better than communism.” Maybe I don’t understand Cyrillic text.

Like the drink itself, the Perrier visitor center left me expecting a bit more flavor.
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This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.