Paris has never before been home to so many fantastic wine bars.
Wine bars may seem emblematic of Paris, but the truth is that, until recently, there weren’t too many great ones left in the capital. Luckily, the tides have changed. These wine bars are the perfect place to improve your oenophilic education–some specialize in wines by the glass, some by natural and organic winemakers, and some by specific regions; some even offer nibbles that are as tantalizing as tipples, with options ranging from simple cheese and charcuterie plates to market-driven gourmet specialties. A good number of these wine bars fall in with the current wine world trends of organic, biodynamic, or even natural, or “living” wines. These wines boast zero additives–and no added sulfites–and will surprise even the most jaded of wine palates, without (allegedly) causing a hangover.
Willi’s Wine Bar
Odd as it may seem, one of the oldest and most beloved wine bars in Paris was actually founded by an Englishman! Mark Williamson first opened Willi’s Wine Bar in 1980, and in doing so, he put wine bars on the map in the capital. Willi’s has been a top destination for wine lovers ever since it opened, with a 1930s allure, beautiful oak bar, and a simple menu of bistro classics to pair with selections by the glass and the bottle.
INSIDER TIPWilli’s offers wine from all over the country, but the team has a special love for the wines of the Rhone Valley–and with their help, so will you.
Ô Chateau founders Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis made a name for themselves hosting English-language wine tastings in Paris before opening this establishment, located in a former 17th century private home. The space is divided into a larger bar and several smaller rooms (perfect for private parties or events) and boasts the perfect blend of old and new, with original stone archways and a modern wine-dispensing technology that allows the bar to offer 40 wines by the glass. The diminutive 3-centiliter pours are perfect for tasting a tantalizing Grand Cru without breaking the bank.
INSIDER TIPThe owners also operate the Caves du Louvre, where a variety of different wine discovery and tasting experiences are offered.
Adjacent to the Relais Saint-Germain Hotel and its famous Comptoir du Relais restaurant, this bar is as famous for its wine as for its French-style tapas. Natural wine is the star of this wine list, the perfect pairing for Chef Yves Camdeborde’s culinary creations. Hors-d’oeuvres like macarons filled with blood sausage, sheep’s milk Ossau Iraty cheese with black cherry jam, or truffled croque monsieur are on the “menu,” which is actually comprised of individual cards suspended from the ceiling displaying the name, image, and price of each dish. No tables here, but snag a stool (or just lean) at the zinc bar, and you’ll have a culinary and oenological experience to remember.
INSIDER TIPThe Avant-Comptoir is right next door to the Avant-Comptoir de la Mer, an outpost of the bar specializing in seafood pairings. The nearby Avant-Comptoir du Marché, meanwhile, highlights market-driven produce and French charcuterie.
This cozy spot near the Louvre was one of the first wine bars to specialize in natural wine, with a clear focus on Loire Valley whites. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly–the perfect connoisseurs to initiate the natural wine amateur. Order by the glass or by the bottle, and enjoy your new discoveries with a simple planche of excellent cheese, charcuterie, or fresh organic crudités with house-made sauce.
INSIDER TIPLe Garde-Robe also sells bottles to take away, so if you uncover a new favorite, don’t hesitate to bring it home.
Le Verre Volé
In the trendy area just off the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, le Verre Volé serves up natural wines and delicious small plates churned out of the tiny open kitchen. Enjoy your selections while surrounded by wine bottles in this true cave à manger or “eating cellar,” where wine sales and dinner occur simultaneously.
INSIDER TIPThough this locale has become a slight victim of its success (and is positively teeming on the weekends), a reservation for the second dinner service at 10 p.m. will allow you to relax and enjoy the ambiance and delicious food without feeling rushed.
Martin Boire et Manger
Locals have kept the address of this neighborhood joint quiet for years, as Martin’s menu of ever-changing market-driven small plates boasts the same quality as many of its trendy neighbors at a fraction of the price. Francophones will love the tongue-in-cheek commentary on the natural wine list, and the less oenophilically-inclined will appreciate the extensive gin-and-tonic menu.
Frenchie Bar à Vins
The tiny Rue du Nil is home to several shops boasting the Frenchie name. While the restaurant is perhaps the most famous (and the toughest to get into), the wine bar is touted as being even better, and because there are no reservations, it’s much easier to snag a seat! The wine list here–a combo of French and foreign bottles and glasses–is supported by an ever-changing small plates menu from Chef Gregory Marchand. The dishes are more substantial than in many other locales and are prepared in a semi-open kitchen in plain view of the dining room. A selection of around 10 savory choices–from house-made pasta to fish to market-driven vegetables–await you. A cheese and dessert selection—accompanied by a glass of dessert wine—is the perfect way to end the meal.
INSIDER TIPBe sure to arrive right when the wine bar opens (6:30 p.m.) or risk waiting in line for a spot at one of the high tables.
Simone has created a haven for wine-and-food lovers in the 13th arrondissement. The cave is the perfect place to earn your stripes in organic and natural wines, with over 120 different bottles (and a diverse selection by the glass) to choose from, to enjoy alongside cheese and charcuterie boards or organic oysters (a delicious rarity in the capital). When you’re feeling a bit more peckish, saunter over to the bistro (just a few steps away) to finish the evening with a fresh, market-driven meal.
INSIDER TIPIf you’re planning on visiting the bistro, be sure to reserve—it tends to fill up!
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O Comptoir du Sud-Ouest
Pull up a stool at an old-fashioned wine cask to discover the wines of France’s Southwest. This cozy little wine bar in the North Marais was opened by a true wine connoisseur from Gaillac whose passion shines through in everything he does. Intent on initiating Parisians to the flavors of his region, the owner has curated a wine list focused on the South, with glasses and bottles to be accompanied by shared boards of cheese, charcuterie, and such homemade tartinades as pesto or roasted peppers with honey. The Southern flair for generosity stands true here: you’ll soon feel right at home.
INSIDER TIPIf bumping elbows with your neighbors isn’t your idea of a good time, the operators of this wine bar also own a restaurant of the same name in the 8th, where you can explore the region’s culinary and oenological wealth while also having a seat at a real table all your own.
This little wine bar in the North Marais will fulfill every dream you’ve ever had of a Parisian sidewalk café. The Barav’–short for bar à vin, in keeping with Parisian slang–is a neighborhood joint with an excellent wine selection and quite a few simple, tasty nibbles. The cave right next door to the bar affords you the opportunity to bring your favorite bottles home, but you can also drink them on-site for a small corkage fee.
INSIDER TIPThe Saint-Marcellin cheese baked with honey is to die for.
Septime la Cave
This diminutive space is far easier to get into than Bertrand Grébaut’s famed restaurant of the same name, and it offers its own bit of charm—as long as you can find a spot to stand or sit! A smattering of stools at the bar and a few low tables are all you’ll find here, but the ambiance is amicable and the offerings–including a trendy orange wine selection–are worth the slight discomfort. The small plates are not as hearty as some, but intriguing combinations (mozzarella and Buddha’s hand lemon with anchovies; artichokes with parmesan, almonds, and shallots) make them worth the heftier price tag.
Le Siffleur des Ballons
This cozy little spot in the 12th arrondissement unites a unique wine selection with the atmosphere of a neighborhood joint. Over 400 different wines are on offer—mostly biodynamic, natural, or organic—with an emphasis on somewhat lesser-known regions, like the Roussillon. The choice of small plates is far more robust than in many similar spots, as are the plates themselves, which are hearty enough to keep you drinking. A small épicerie sells artisanal-tinned sardines and pâté to take away, but you can also enjoy them on the premises alongside your favorite glass or bottle.
La Cave des Abbesses
This spot isn’t nearly as trendy as some of the others on the list, but it has certainly stood the test of time: founded in 1986, La Cave des Abbesses is located in the picturesque Montmartre neighborhood and is one of the best places to sip some more classic French vintages. The ambiance here will make you feel like you’ve uncovered a well-kept secret: Your tasting will take place in a stock room with over 250 different bottles, where you’re free to enjoy simple French cheese or meat boards while you sip.
La Vache dans les Vignes
La Vache dans Les Vignes–which translates to “the cow in the vines” –is above all a shop peddling excellent, house-aged cheeses and hand-selected wines. But the smattering of tables overlooking the Canal Saint-Martin through big bay windows is the perfect place to enjoy these goods before making your final decisions on what to take home. The knowledgeable staff will first invite you to choose a glass (or bottle) of wine, after which they will select 3, 4, or 5 kinds of cheese perfectly matched to your selection. Unlike many others on our list, the emphasis here is not on natural wines, but even the true wine connoisseur will likely be surprised by some of the small producers featured at La Vache dans les Vignes.
Paroles de Fromagers
This locale near République Square is a cheese bar first and a wine bar second, but lovers of both will certainly be pleased with the discovery. After passing through the entrance —which looks like a typical cheese shop—visitors will encounter several different tasting rooms, where cheese boards are paired not only with wine but with French sparkling cider. The star of the menu here is a tasting platter that includes four small pairings of wine and cheese on a tailor-made board.
INSIDER TIPThis locale also offers cheese pairing and even cheesemaking workshops—reserve in advance to secure your spot!
A guinguette is the 18th century suburban answer to the Parisian cabaret. But, wouldn’t you know it, this style of country dance hall is alive and well thanks to Rosa Bonheur. Three outposts of the locale bring this bucolic atmosphere to the modern city—two on the Seine and one at the Buttes Chaumont park. The latter is a local favorite in summertime, as you can enjoy concerts, assorted tapas, and—bien sûr—a glass of wine or two.