Paris is indeed a romantic city, and as much as you can be romanced by the sun setting on the Seine river, the Eiffel Tower sparkling into the evening, and the sound of the accordion playing Sous le Ciel de Paris, it’s Paris’s food and wine culture that I’ve fallen for.
There is so much on offer for the wine romantic in Paris. There are champagne tastings on a cruise down the Seine, the Friday afternoon ‘wine-down’, and you can take a bottle of your favourite Champagne to enjoy in the glorious Buttes Chaumont park.
After enjoying a few vintages in Paris, these are my five favourite wine experiences that keep me coming back for more.
1. The Wine Museum (Musée du Vin)
Paris has many museums, but this one is not as well-known as it should be. Situated in the 16th Arrondissement (Metro Passy), the Wine Museum is close to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim bridge, which offers great photo opportunities, especially with the lookout to the Eiffel Tower.
The Wine Museum displays wine-making and wine-drinking artefacts and there are bottles of old wine to marvel at and/ or buy. With a good sense of humour, walking through the dim corridors, listening to the audio guide, and viewing the mannequins set up to depict key aspects of wine history is a lot of fun.
The restaurant, Les Echansons, is open for lunch and the sommelier can recommend some wines. I also did a one-on-one guided tasting of three wines with the sommelier.
Overall, this was a good-value wine experience and I would go to Les Echansons for lunch again.
2. Clos Montmartre Vineyard
The very idea of a vineyard in Paris’s artistic Montmartre district is romantic. Clos Montmartre is one of five remaining vineyards in Paris and is closed to the public. One way to access the vineyard is with a tour by City Wonders, which also provides a good historical overview of the area.
Standing in Clos Montmartre was a remarkable experience–surrounded by vines, looking up to old apartments and hearing the sound of scooters weaving around the streets. There were even vines growing in the neighbours’ properties and clinging to their fences.
The vineyard makes a refreshing rosé from a blend of grape varieties (though mostly from Pinot Noir and Gamay), and although it’s not Bandol or Tavel, it tastes of Montmartre with a spirit of freedom and possibility.
Because it’s a small vineyard, it’s not surprising the wine costs 50 euros a bottle. But what a beautiful bottle and souvenir of Montmartre it is.
3. Wine Picnics (With or Without a Game of Pétanque)
The people of Paris seem to have picnics with wine all over the city: along the banks of the Seine, in the Luxembourg Gardens, along the Canal Saint Martin. Some picnics are elaborate with foie gras and a croquembouche; most are not. Most involve opening a bottle pulled from a backpack, asking strangers for a bottle opener, then pulling out cheeses, baguettes, and pastries that were bought on the way.
Impromptu picnics are one of my favourite things to do in Paris and my favourite spot is on the left bank looking to the Pont Alexandre III. A picnic in the City of Light is a great way to drink good French wine if you are on a budget and it’s a great way to get acquainted with the city and its people.
I find that the people of Paris are friendly and by sharing a bottle opener with others you never know where the afternoon will lead, though it may involve a game of pétanque (a boules game where steel balls are thrown toward a small wooden ball).
There are good wine stores all over Paris, but two I think are quite famous and worth going to for a bottle are Les Caves du Polidor in the 6th arrondissement and Caves Legrand Filles et Fils in the 1st.
4. Paris Wine Bars
It’s not difficult to find a good wine bar in Paris and for every day I’ve spent in Paris I’ve learned of a new wine bar. Parisians, French people, expats, and tourists have all shared with me their favourite Paris wine bars, and for this I am grateful.
A highlight for me on my recent trip was going to Les Gouttes de Dieu wine bar and cellar in central Paris to enjoy some Saint-Émilion wine, cheese and charcuterie.
One all-time favourite of mine is the elegant Caves Legrand Filles et Fils in the 1st arrondissement, which contrasts with another all-time favourite of mine, which is the rustic Le Baron Rouge (1 rue Théophile Roussel, 75012 Paris) in the 12th, where, after the markets have closed, people spill out to the street drinking wine and eating oysters that were shucked in front of them.
There are so many good wine bars, and something for everyone, that I must compile a list. Let me know what your favourites are.
5. Formal and Informal Wine Tastings for all Levels
There are many wine tasting opportunities in Paris. There are some that are well-known and well-regarded by tourists, such as the fun wine tastings offered by Ô Château near the Louvre.
There are intimate and detailed wine tastings, such as those by Wine Tasting in Paris in the Latin Quarter, which is near the quaint cobble-stone streets and restaurants of Rue Moufftard.
I’ve also been to a vibrant and relaxed wine tasting with Vincent of La Cave à Vincent, and I have found that the staff of some of the more well-known wine bars, such as Legrand Filles et Fils, are happy to talk about the wines that you taste.
So, I do whatever I can to make sure I return to Paris for more of these Parisian wine experiences.
Each time before I leave Paris, I visit the Point Zero in the front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. I do this because they say that those who step foot on, or even spin on, the plaque in the pavement (which is used to measure the distance from Paris to other French cities) will return, for certain, to Paris.
Note: All links were correct at time of posting.
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