Perhaps more than any place in the world, Paris is a city with endless possibilities for eating and drinking well. Whether you’re visiting one of the three-star temples of gastronomy, enjoying choucroute garni in an Art Nouveau brasserie, or sampling the cuisine in one of the “baby bistros” on the Left Bank, you’ll never want for a good meal.
But there’s another aspect to Paris dining that many travelers miss, which is a shame, especially for lovers of good wine. Paris has some of the most delightful wine bars in the world. And many of them have excellent food too. The bars that specialize in natural or organic wines often serve artisanal meats, cheeses, and breads from the city’s top suppliers. In fact, some Paris wine bars get their food from the same butchers, boulangeries, and cheese makers as the city’s top chefs.
No matter where you’re staying in Paris, there’s probably a great wine bar within walking distance. Ask your hotel concierge, or try one of these. They’re a great place to mingle with the locals.
Everybody’s favorite Paris wine bar these days, Racines opened in 2007 after Pierre Jancou sold La Cremerie. The location in the lovely 19th-century Passages des Panoramas is delightful, especially on a rainy day when it’s snug as a bug in a rug. Virtually all the wines here are from 15 organic French producers. So come here to taste wine that you won’t likely find anywhere else in town. Excellent cheeses, terrines, charcuterie, and a few daily specials are wonderful accompaniments.
2) Les Fines Gueules
Having trained at La Cagouille, Les Fine Gueules owner Arnaud Bradol knows his fish – and his wine. Housed in a 17th-century stone building near Place des Victoires, Gueules features wines from every region in France. With Poujauran breads and meats from Desnoyer, who is purveyor to some of the best restaurants in Paris, meals here in the beamed dining room are much better than you’d expect. The staff are happy to point you to the perfect bottle or glass.
3) Le Rubis
Located near the high-fashion boutiques of the 1st arrondissement, Le Rubis is an old fashioned spot with everything you’d expect – zinc bar, tobacco-stained walls, and great French wines. Many wines are available by the glass, and there’s an impressive selection of Beaujolais, Cotes-du-Rhone, and Loire Valley wines. Grab one of the burgundy banquettes, order a plate of charcuterie and cheese, and put yourself in owner Albert Prat’s hands.
4) La Garde Robe
One of the newer entries to the field, La Garde Robe isn’t much bigger than a wardrobe, which is what the name means in French. It’s conveniently located in the 1st, and it’s a good place to rest your feet after touring the Louvre. You’ll find cheese, pates, sausages, and fresh oysters, and plenty of tasty organic or biodynamic wine by the bottle or the glass to wash it down.
Across from the delightful Palais Royal, Alfred was opened by European Parliament member William Abitbol after he lost his reelection bid in 2004. You may find him serving up hams, terrines, and plates of grilled vegetables in the vaulted stone cellar or in the upstairs dining room, where meals are the equal to of what you’d find in a good bistro. Try savoring your red wine with one of the divine chocolate desserts inspired by Pierre Herme.
In many ways the antithesis of a typical wine bar, Cavesteve is an ultra-modern spot near Place du Trocadero. The 300-label wine shop here is one of the best in Paris and you can buy wines from all over the world, in all price ranges. There are a few tables upstairs and down, and fewer still on the sidewalk. Four or five specials are served each day, but the wine is the real draw here, and at their Bastille location.
7) Le Verre Vole
Open since 2000 near Canal St. Martin and the Place de la Republique, Le Verre Vole specializes in organic and biodynamic wines from Laguedoc, the Rhone, and Loire Valleys. With just six tables, you’ll need to make reservations to indulge in the fresh oysters, andouilettes, Joel Meurdesoif charcuterie, and cheeses from Benoit Bordier. You can enjoy them with anything from the wine shop for a modest corkage fee. Some wines are available by the glass. If you can’t get a table, get a to-go order and head for the canal.
Run by a Scotsman, Juvenile’s is the best place for wine from outside France. If you’re looking for a Napa Valley Cabernet, or a Hunter Valley Chardonnay, this is your best bet. Simple tapas such as bruschetta or crostini, raclette, sausages, pates, and cheeses are served. There’s also an excellent selection of sherries. Juvenile’s is popular with English speakers.
9) Le Baron Rouge
More than half the selections at the rustic place in the 12th are from the Languedoc region. It’s close to the Place d’Aligre market so come before or after you shop for spices. In season, fresh oysters are shucked on site and washed down with copious amounts of Chablis. There are lots of wines available by the glass. But since there are only four tables, it’s not the best place for a meal. Come before dinner and be prepared to rub elbows with your neighbors.
10) La Cremerie
Although Pierre Jancou sold it in 2007, this wine bar in a charming 19th-century creamery near Odeon is still popular. In addition to the expected French charcuterie and cheeses, La Cremerie also serves superb meats and cheeses from Italy and Spain. There’s a nice assortment of interesting, natural wines. Ask your server for advice.
Read about enjoying wine in the South of France here.