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Not much changes in Paris when it comes to wine bars and that’s a good thing. My favourite thing over the years has been to crawl from wine bar to wine bar cushioned by a lunch and/or dinner reservation and experience what a lot of cities around the world miss or get wrong. In places like London food trends come and go and restaurants that were once exciting can become mundane quite quickly. But in Paris, it is refreshing to come and enjoy places that do not over complicate matters and are still at the top of their game years after they’ve opened. 

This list is by no means exhaustive and there are a ton of spots I’ve left out, but in my recent visits these have become my new and old favourites – all places to enjoy good wine, simple food and good company. 


Prince oversees the empties at L’Etiquette.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that warm hospitality is hard to come by in the so-called city of love. That’s not the case at L’Etiquette: This cosy wine cave and bar a vin on an island in the Seine, in the shadows of the cathedral of Notre Dame, is just that – a perfect place to stop in for apero, before dinner. Behind the striking pale blue facade, hand-painted sign, and infinite cork window display, you often find L’Etiquette’s welcoming owner Herve Lethielleux, a character you might encounter playing a game of dice with other patrons. 

You’ll also find a top bottle selection, from newer natural winemakers, such as Les Barioles as well as from classics like Domaine Labet; if you are lucky, there might even be some hard-to-finds, like Tino Kuban’s Maison Glandien. Lethielleux is full of knowledge, recommendations, and warmth; the kind of owner who will do a spontaneous blind tasting on something interesting. Order some oysters from the place opposite to enjoy with something fresh and you may wonder where the time has gone. Before you know it you’ll have missed your dinner reservation.

10 Rue Jean du Bellay, 75004

Septime La Cave

This is a wine guide, but trust me on this Swiss cider.

An ever evolving by-the-glass list on its famous plastic letter board, top snacks, bread, charcuterie and often some tasty vegetables, Septime La Cave remains a hotspot, a classic wine bar eight years-young. It usually opens around 4 p.m. and can get busy quickly, so is a great spot to come to after a long lunch, with many equally good spots in close proximity. (Its sister restaurants Clamato and Septime are just across the street.) 

One of my favourite things to do is have a little crawl around this little pocket of the 11th arrondissement: First, stop into the no-reservations Clamato for oysters and something fizzy when it opens; then move on to Paul Bert for a long lunch full of classics; before finishing up at Septime La Cave for when it opens for a revitalising bottle of Swiss cider from Cidrerie dus Vulcain. Stand outside if the weather allows or try and nab a seat inside to take in a soundtrack peppered with old-school hip hop. If you’re feeling brave and flush you could always complete the day with dinner at parent restaurant, chef Bertrand Grébaut’s Septime.

3 Rue Basfroi, 75011

Le Clown Bar

One bottle of dhumes is never enough.

Clown’s brain.

It might be a few years now since the peak of its powers but this decadently lit bar is still a worthy pit stop. While Clown’s signature brain dish always takes the spotlight, the rest of the menu is worth exploring too – try the veal head croquettes and the sweetbreads. Back vintages of top winemakers from interesting regions such as the Auvergne and Alsace such as Patrick Bouju and Bruno Schueller is reason enough for me to stop by when I am in town. Service can be typically Parisian so just pretend you know what you are doing. I recently drank a volcanic gamay from Francois Dhumes with that delicate brain, served in a subtle but fragrant dashi: a perfect pairing. 

114 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris, France

Delicatessen Place

Cheese and wine and BALANCIAGA.

This tiny spot next door to Delicatessen Cave has in recent times become something of a destination, with a revolving list of exciting chefs popping up for a residency and serving a short but delicious menu. A tripe stew from Hugh Corcorran when he was in residence lives long in the memory. Get in early and choose a bottle from the cave to have next door paying a small corkage fee on top. Delicatessen is one of the best caves in the city and has an endless selection of good bottles – Exciting Juracon from Domaine Lajibe, Champagne from Etienne Calsac or new Burgundy from Arnaud Lopez. The vibes are always dialled up in this intimate space, no matter who is in residence – so go for a bottle and a snack or stay the whole evening – an eventuality which is becoming harder to avoid with each visit. 

7 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011

The Butcher of Paris

The thicc croque monsieur by the Butcher.

Part butchers, part deli and now more recently a great destination for a casual lunch. This butcher’s stall is in the oldest covered market in Paris, Marché des Enfants Rouges named after a 16th century orphanage that used to be on the same site. Not only does it have great cuts of meat from farmers all over France, it also serves one of the best croque monsieurs going. There is always a cut of the day ready to go on the grill which you can enjoy with some vegetables and something from the excellent bottle selection. There’s usually something from the late great Julie Balagny and other top Beaujolais producers, which also makes this a great breakfast stop: bread, cheese, meat and breakfast Beaujolais. The market itself is also full of other potential eating options from fruit de mer platters to Moroccan tagines. It’s tight, it’s crowded and there are few tourist traps to be avoided but it is a place full of life and The Butcher of Paris has the best seats in the house.

39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003

La Buvette

The snack: broad beans, lemon zest, olive oil.

This kitchenless creation from Camille Fourmont should be on any list when you’re in Paris. Simplicity wins the prize here with Fourmont running the show solo and letting the produce of rural France speak for itself. The wine offering – delicious options by the glass and bottles to take away – can skew towards Loire which is no bad thing and you can enjoy great examples from Ettiene and Julien Courtois, Domaine Bobinet or something energising from Laurent Saillard. Cheese and charcuterie are well sourced from small producers including andouille that shouldn’t be missed. The haricot beans are also a must and have become the emblematic Buvette snack. Come with a small group as space can be scarce, give Fourmont free reign to pour whatever is cold and work your way through the small list of snacks. Lots of wine bars across the world have tried to recreate this celebration of simplicity of which La Buvette is known for but few, if any, reach the same heights. 

67 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011

Augustin Marchand d’Vins

Augustin beckons.

There is a heavy 11th bias to this list so why not pop over to the 6th for a change of scene. You will be greeted by its alluring red neon lit Baroque facade from the outside and greeted by the no less warm hospitality of Augustin Marchand on the inside. Here is a man ready to direct you through his tantalising wall of bottles, a who’s-who of low intervention winemakers spanning big-hitters like Jean François Ganevat, Fred Gounan and Jerome Saurigny to newer talents such as Pauline Maziou and Corentin Houillion. The menu is short with a focus on vegetables and cures but it changes most weeks; usually there are one or two hot dishes. Marchand is a really great host who will often share something that he’s drinking and he enjoys recommending something interesting to those who ask the right questions. Sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself away from the 11th, but after one trip to Augustin Marchand d’Vins, you’ll wonder why you’ve never ventured out before. 

26 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006

Le Mary Celeste

A visit to Paris is usually not complete without going to this late-night venue (open till 2am) at least once: The cocktails are great, the crowd is cool, and it has a low-key good bottle list if you need one last drop before calling it a day. Sometimes it feels like all roads lead to Le Mary Celeste – at some point during most trips, I’m sure you will end up meeting that like-minded soul that caught your eye earlier on in the evening. That’s because it’s always fun, always a great atmosphere, the service excellent, the perfect place to end an evening. Maybe swerve that last bottle and have an ice cold vesper martini, instead.

1 Rue Commines, 75003

Header image by Chris Molloy / Pexels. | Ben Wilson lives in London, and travels a lot (for wine). One half of @wineguyzzzzz. Zero-Zero Influence.

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