Paris wine bars
How to hang like a local next time you’re in the City of Lights
e only commercial wine produced in Paris comes from a couple of hectares of vines in Montmartre. Tucked away in the shadow of Sacré-Coeur, this tiny vineyard produces wine of average quality at best, but its novelty ensures it sells out each year. On the corner of Rue des Saules and Rue Saint Vincent, the vineyard dates from 1932 and features no fewer than 27 di erent grape varieties, although it mostly comprises gamay and pinot noir. On the rst Saturday of each October, a celebration marks the annual Grape Vintage Festival and production of about
500 bottles of Clos Montmartre.
Paris is a paradise for wine lovers, with excellent bars, wine shops and restaurants that o er the chance to sample some of the world’s great wines, as well as superb French country wines that never make it onto the export market. You’ll even nd venues dedicated to natural, biodynamic and organic wines.
Two must-visit venues are Juveniles, founded by eccentric Scot Tim Johnston, and its near-neighbour Willi’s Wine Bar, run
Heading to Paris? is rundown of some of the city’s best bars will have you hanging like a local tout suite.
by Englishman Mark Williamson. Both men are veterans with more than three decades on the Paris scene, and many young industry stars have spent a summer season at one, or both. Willi’s is upscale with a multi-lingual team. Mark also owns the slick, more expensive Maceo restaurant next door, with similarly eclectic wine choices. At Willi’s, try Domaine d’Aupilhac Languedoc Blanc for €28 or La Soula Cotes Catalanes for €49. Juveniles, a favourite with journalists and wine industry folk, has no airs and graces, but is a terrific spot to discover something new; maybe a Cornas, or an older Fronsac by the glass, carafe or bottle (from around €30). It also o ers good bistro food, which has gone upmarket as owner Tim’s daughter Margaux has taken control of the space and put her stamp on it. e sta are always keen to share their knowledge here.
Across town, near the Bastille, you’ll nd Le Baron Rouge, a blue-collar bar on the fringes of the Marché d’Aligre, where locals bring their empty bottles to be lled from giant oak
barriques. e place has authenticity and a rough-and-ready charm, as well as a massive selection of wines by the glass from around France. ere’s a small selection of charcuterie available and, from October to March, an oyster vendor sets up on the pavement outside.
A decade or more ago, the walls at the Baron were decorated with pornographic cartoons. ings have since taken a classy turn, but the prices remain reasonable. ere are plenty of wines for €2 to €3 a glass (a merlot d’Ardeche is €1.50, but you can splash out on a 2015 Petit Chablis for €3.50). If the Baron is busy, try Les Caves de Prague down the road.
Another favourite is La Cave de Belleville in the gritty 19th arrondisement, a wine bar/store with hams and saucissons hanging from ceiling hooks, plus a good choice of cheeses and natural wines. La Cave du Paul Bert in the 11th arrondisement, owned by one of Paris’s chefs du jour Paul Bert, is another hotspot. It’s cramped, decidedly hip and specialising in wines from small producers matched with bistro classics.
Small bars encouraging customers to take bottles away include Le Siffleur de Ballons and Le Barav, as well as En Vrac, while Squatt Wine Shop specialises in natural wines and small plates. Vibrant duo Simone and Les Petits Crus have a similar focus. ere is even a store selling Italian wine in bulk – surely a niche market in France. One of the bigger wine ranges can be found at La Verre Volé (‘the stolen glass’), which has a massive list that gets served alongside cheeses and charcuterie plates in a traditional style in the 10th, near the Canal Saint-Martin.
In hip side street Rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondisement, you’ll nd a chic quartier of restaurants, takeaways and bars, including recent arrival Frenchie Bar a Vins, the latest in a chain of successful gourmet endeavours by superstar chef Gregory Marchand. Turn up here early or be prepared to wait. ink small plates in modern-French style and very little elbow room. All Frenchie locations are full to the brim, but dishes are well priced, between €9 to €19.
One of the biggest wine shops in Europe is Lavinia, just o the Place de la Madeleine. It has a huge range of French and international bottles, as well as biodynamic o erings. ere is an on-site wine bar and restaurant that attracts a suited afterwork crowd, and dégustation machines on the ground oor allow customers to a sip (literally) of up to 10 di erent wines each week for €10. From the great names of Bordeaux and Champagne to small, independent vignerons or wines of the world, you’ll nd them here.
This tiny vineyard is tucked away in the shadow of Sacré-Coeur.
Frenchie Bar a Vins by
e writer was a guest of the wine-focused Pavillon de la Reine Hotel in the Marais, a member of Small Luxury Hotels. slh.com/hotels/le-pavillon-de-la-reine-and-spa.
Juveniles is a great place to discover something new.