What better city to begin a wine bar series in than the capital of the world’s greatest winemaking country? For sure, France’s finest wines are produced in its eastern and southern regions (hello, Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Côtes du Rhône), but wine culture is truly an integral part of Parisian life. Above photo courtesy of Dana Ward via Shutterstock.
In even the most unassuming of the city’s corners, you have only to walk for a minute or two to find a quaint little marchand de vin brimming with local wines. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at a French dinner party, you can be sure you’ll be trying some of the best wine you’ve had in a long time. And as the weather warms up, it is a Parisian rite of passage for friends to picnic with wine, bread and cheese on the newly-accessible lawns of the city’s parks (yes, it is illegal to step on them the rest of the year).
But perhaps the finest element of Parisian wine culture is its array of splendid wine bars. From the sleek and sophisticated O Chateau to the iconic Le Fumoir and the merry hole-in-the-wall Chez Georges, there’s a Paris wine bar to suit all tastes.
Without further adieu, here are five of the best wine bars in Paris:
Photo courtesy of Le Garde Robe.
1. Le Garde Robe
Nestled away down a surprisingly quiet street right in the city center, Le Garde Robe is a charming little caviste shop-meets-bar. Space is tight and the atmosphere is jovial, as Parisians drop in to pick up a bottle for dinner time, or huddle around the bar or a little table to savor a local cheese plate and whichever wine their knowledgeable waiter can suggest that evening.
Photo courtesy of O Chateau.
2. O Chateau
Down the pretty rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the second arrondissement, O Chateau is an oh-so-chic wine bar that truly knows its stuff. Head there for a casual glass of wine or three, or even enrol in one of their wine-tasting classes held in their cool stone cave (cellar). Classes are held in English and will give you a greater understanding of the French wine world- plus a glass of white, red and rosé to “sample”.
Photo courtesy of Le Fumoir.
3. Le Fumoir
Luxe, low-lit and sophisticated, Le Fumoir is a veritable Paris institution. A hop, skip and a jump from the Louvre, right near the Seine river, this bar is one of the most perfectly located places to indulge in a glass of fine French wine. You can dine as well, though my best friend and I developed an expensive but exquisite tradition of sharing a cheese plate and a bottle of rouge each Thursday evening; their selection never disappoints.
Photo courtesy of Chez Georges.
4. Chez Georges
A far cry from the sleek surrounds of O Chateau or Le Fumoir, Chez Georges is a vibrant hole-in-the-wall down one of the windier streets of the Latin Quarter. Guaranteed to be bustling with young Paris locals on the weekend, Chez Georges sports tiling and décor from its 1950s origins, a tiny, rickety staircase and a small but trustworthy (and cheap!) wine list. Settle down at a tiny corner table with some rouge, baguette and cornichons and watch the Paris evening float by.
Photo courtesy of Where Jess Ate.
5. L’Avant Comptoir
In the shadow of French theatre favorite Le Théâtre d’Odéon, on the edges of the revered district of St Germain des Prés, lies the famed Le Comptoir du Relais, a traditional French restaurant attached to the Hôtel le Relais. Le Comptoir is great, but I far prefer its little carriage bar next door, L’Avant Comptoir. No, there are no seats, but this little gem is a great place to congregate with good company to sip wine and sample French tapas at the comptoir, or countertop bar.
What is your favorite wine bar in Paris? Please share in the comments below.
By Gemma King