We can all agree: in France wine is important.
When 6 p.m. rolls around, the wine bars of Paris start to fill up. Colleagues finishing work jostle at the traditional zinc bars and sunny sidewalks become scattered with drinkers basking in the evening rays.The tiny wine bars of Paris come alive—it’s a city-wide convivial moment with a little glass of something refreshing and a small stack of sliced saucisson.
If you’re in the right place, the early evening aperitif can be magic, and the wine is usually the deciding factor! The capital is the perfect place to sample some of the country’s best winemakers, or track down that unknown grower’s rare cuvée. From institutions with hundreds of references to tiny wine bars with standing space only, let us direct you to some of the best bars in the city.
Psst—you’re about to hear the words “natural wine” a lot. Here’s a quick introduction if you need one.
1. Septime La Cave
When talking about Paris, Septime always pops up—and for good reason.
It’s a trend-setting restaurant, with an incredible offshoot wine bar. The tiny bar is usually packed to the rafters, with great wine and good-natured clientele. Let’s cut to it: it’s no place for privacy or closed minds, as you’ll be packed in like sardines, and tasting juicy cuvées that depart from the norm.
The friendly, knowledgeable staff will are ready to direct your tastebuds towards the delectable unknown, and the band of industry locals, seemingly omnipresent at the bar, are always ready to fill up your Paris address book with ideas of more places to visit. It’s one of those rare places you can go to alone, and leave with friends.
What to try: Take advantage of the best orange wine selection in the city, and keep in mind that the more interesting stuff is served only by the bottle.
2. L’avant Comptoir
Just next to the celebrated restaurant Le Comptoir du Relais lies a wine-lovers paradise.
L’Avant Comptoir (3 Carrefour de l’Odéon) will open any bottle you see, and serve you just a glass. Never quite dared to spend €150 on that coveted bottle of Drappier champagne? You prayers are answered.
The fine natural wine selection is paired with a rough-and-ready atmosphere and a strange approach to the menu, which you will find hanging off cards on the ceiling.
What to try: Take advantage of the ‘anything by the glass’ policy, and try whatever you fancy (they’ve got a great selection of Burgundy whites).
3. Le Baron Rouge
This market bar is just the right balance of rowdy locals, young and old. If the extensive wine list is overpowering, just point blindly—it’s all good and all comes direct from the wine producers!
Barrel or bottle, the prices are great, and you can buy a glass bottle for a €1 and fill up from the barrel to take away. The atmosphere is convivial to the point of rowdy, especially on Sunday mornings when the nearby Aligre market is in full swing!
What to try: The light, fruity Beaujolais in the barrel from Michel Guignier.
4. Ma Cave Fleury
This little gem of a neighborhood champagne bar is tucked away from the touristy part of town.
Locals sup on Fleury champagne and a selection of natural wines, chosen by Morgane, the friendly red-headed owner. She’s one of the Fleury champagne family, and she’ll talk you through the ever-changing tasting flight of her favorite champagnes, if that’s your thing! And champagne is everyone’s thing, isn’t it?
What to try: We’re big fans of the extra-brut zero dosage champagne, straight and dry and crunchy like an apple.
5. La Belle Hortense
In the heart of the Marais, this unique wine bar is also a functioning bookshop. Explore the shelves of classic French literature (some of it’s in English too) with a glass in your hand, and mingle with the city’s literary types. And if you’re hungry, the welcoming staff will bring you a plate from their famous restaurant Les Philosophes, just over the street.
What to try: The wine of the month, usually from the southwest of France, is great value at €14 for 50 cl.
6. Les Fines Gueules
Located in a 17th-century building, just off the grand Place des Victoires, grab a spot at the bar for a drink, or a table if you want to dine. With a great wine by the glass selection, it’s no surprise that Les Fines Gueules have over 18,000 bottles of natural wine in their epic cellar (which they’ll even let you peek at if you ask nicely). Their cured meats are incredible, and would match perfectly with a juicy red from the Auvergne. Are we making your mouth water yet?
What to try: Anything from the great selection of juicy reds from the Auvergne and Beaujolais regions, the spiritual home of natural wine.