I was in Paris less than a week after the terrorist attacks in November 2015. It was confronting to see the bundles of flowers, candles and notes outside the restaurants and other sites … but also uplifting to see the Parisians defiantly out and about, eating, drinking, socialising and celebrating life. One of their favourite ways to do this is with a glass of wine and a nibble at one of the city’s many wine bars. Here are five of my favourites.
Willi’s Wine Bar (1st arrondissement)
Established in 1980 by an Englishman who loves French wine and known for its wonderful poster collection, Willi’s is a Parisian institution. Whether it’s a glass of Côtes du Rhône at the long oak bar with some great cheese or several glasses over the €38 3-course dinner menu, you’ll love it.
The Clown Bar (11th arrondissement)
This former dining room for the clowns of the nearby Cirque d’Hiver (immortalised in the hand-painted tiles and gorgeous ceiling) is now one of Paris’ go-to wine bars. Wines are natural, food is edgy and staff are switched on and willing to open something different to accommodate guests’ interests.
Septime la Cave (11th arrondissement)
This bottle shop aligned with the popular Septime restaurant offers wine to go, a very reasonable €7 corkage if you want to buy and drink there and a great-value selection by the glass. Snacks include some great charcuterie, though finding somewhere to sit and enjoy it can prove challenging unless you’re early.
L’Avant Comptoir (6th arrondissement)
Between them, Yves Camdeborde’s three L’Avant Comptoir bars offer something for everyone. De la Terre is standing room only with menu cards hung from the ceiling showing Basque-inspired meaty tapas-style snacks, there’s a great range of charcuterie on display too. De la Mer features oysters and other aquatic delights, while the largest, de la Marché, has a fresh produce-driven menu. All offer good-value wines, friendly staff and a lively atmosphere.
Le Chenin (9th arrondissement)
A quirky hole-in-the-wall with good food, great wines and warm, friendly service. Strictly speaking it’s not a bar as their licence doesn’t allow them to sell wine without food – so order some steak tartare, escargot or more and wander through the Burgundy-heavy range of wines by the glass
Updated 11 June 2022