The Best Natural Wine Bars in Paris

“This is not a wine bar,” reads a sign on the outside of Canal Saint Martin wine institution Le Verre Volé. It’s not a Duchamp homage, either: Le Verre Volé, though continually cited as a wine bar in the Anglophone press, is indeed a restaurant and a wine shop, and nothing in between.

The misunderstanding is illustrative of the generational divides running through the contemporary Paris wine bar scene.

What we might call the Paris wine bar remains one of the city’s countless corner cafés, which often advertise “bar à vins” as an amenity. Such places almost unanimously serve anonymous plonk. The Paris wine bar history worth imbibing arguably began in the 1980s, with places that emphasized thoughtful consideration of well-made wines, even at unthoughtful times (like apéritif hour).

In the late 1990s and early 2000s came the first wave of caves à mangeri.e. wine shops that offer food, usually full meals. The second wave focused more on light snacks. In just the past three years, a third generation has emerged, consisting of what the average New World resident might recognize as wine bars: informal places with engaged, articulate staff. Natural wines—wines made more-than-organically, often with low or no addition of sulfur—are de rigeur. Full meals are almost a thing of the past, often replaced with composed salads or exotic terrines.

Yet, in Paris, successive generations rarely replace or supersede their forebears. Second- and first-wave-style wine bars routinely open to rave reviews while not actually offering many of the services of a wine bar. But in this way, Paris offers a visitor something faster, more contemporary cities cannot: a living history of the wine bar. —Aaron Ayscough

  • 1

    Aux Deux Amis

    Aux Deux Amis' owner David Loyola learned all he needed to know about hospitality with the buccaneer team at Le Chateaubriand before opening this thronged moneypit of a natural wine bar near Oberkampf. The service might be gruff at times, and the clientele might be among Paris’s rudest and most entitled, but what the bar lacks in welcome and niceties it makes up for in sheer mastery of its basic offerings: one of Paris’ strongest natural wine lists and a tasteful and contemporary menu of addictive small plates.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • outdoor / patio
    • bar food
    • singles scene
    • natural wine
  • 2

    Café de la Nouvelle Mairie

    Café de la Nouvelle Mairie sits, as it has for the past 30 years, on an overlooked square in the hyper-touristic shadow of the Pantheon. It has the distinction of being Paris’s first natural wine bar. Renowned palate Bernard Pontonnier was the first owner; he sold it to Nicolas Carmarans, who, in favor of becoming a winemaker near Aveyron, sold it to the present owners, Benjamin Fourty and Corentin Bucillat. Somewhere in the ceding contract must be a clause forbidding time from passing, because Café de la Nouvelle Mairie still offers the same wholesome pleasures as always: a lovely terrace, simple tradition cuisine ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • back vintages
    • natural wine
    • outdoors / patio
    • historic
  • 3

    La Buvette

    This former crèmerie, with its tiled floor and dark oak bar, hints to a bygone era. But Camille Fourmont keeps things fresh with a carefully selected list of natural wines,  locally brewed beer and a creative yet classic selection of small plates to go alongside—from foie gras to Aubrac sausage to sardines.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • natural wine
    • bar food
  • 4

    La Point du Grouin

    Groin means pig snout in French and La Pointe du Grouin in Brittany is where Thierry Breton, its famed owner, hails from. So it's no surprise that the food and drink nods to the region with a few pig snout snacks thrown in. No phone, no reservations, no servers and its own currency (don’t worry, the conversion is easy: 1 “groin” to 1 euro) makes this wine bar one of the quirkiest in Paris's canon. A variety of small plates inspired by hearty French fare—including everything from grilled sausage crepes to oysters—are served family-style. Don’t be alarmed when your order is shouted to the kitchen over a megaphone. Wine ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • bar food
    • oysters / raw bar
  • 5

    L'Entrée des Artistes

    The young fellows behind boutique Pigalle bar L'Entrée des Artistes are Fabien Lombardi (a former bartender at Prescription) and Edouard Vermynck (former sommelier at Hotel Murano). They bonded over a shared love of traditionalist hip-hop and ambitious wines and cocktails and each night they perform a delicate balancing act between a serious destination for food and wine and a raucous, freewheeling bar. These aims do conflict at times. But at others they cohere into the ground zero of quixotic geekery and insider bro-downs.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • natural wine
    • singles scene
    • bar food
  • 6

    Le Mary Celeste

    Le Mary Celeste is named for a 19th-century French ship that went adrift after a wrong turn home from New York, a nautical homage that is supported by nuanced crudo dishes and an excellent selection of oysters. Chef Haan Palcu-Chang is half-Chinese, half-Romanian, and his culinary training comes from experience cooking in Thai and Classic European kitchens. So it makes sense that his food is a patchwork of ingredients and inspiration, with inventions like Chinese crepes stuffed with pork knuckle and kimchi. The wine list reads like a who's who of the natural wine world right now, with the likes of Arianna Occhipinti, ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • day drinking
    • oysters / raw bar
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • Champagne
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 7

    Le Repaire de Cartouche

    Towering bistronomy chef Rodolphe Paquin has been enthralling and enraging clients at his frank, insidery bistro Le Repaire de Cartouche since 1997. Fans adore its masterfully traditional cuisine and incomparably deep list of natural wines. Others bristle at the occasionally brusque service and the antiquated vibe, which made it all the more surprising when, in 2014, Paquin installed an impressively contemporary wine bar in his downstairs dining room. Repaire de Cartouche bar à vin boasts a small menu of shareable items, a long, cornered bar you can actually use and an open door to the street for standing and smoking. ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • back vintages
    • bar food
    • natural wine
  • 8

    Le Siffleur de Ballons

    Owner Thierry Bruneau hails from the Loire, and before opening his restaurant in Paris he put in many years as a sommelier for renowned French chef Michel Richard at Citronelle in Washington D.C. His American service experience is evident at le Siffleur de Ballons, an inviting and contemporary wine bar where, rather remarkably for Paris, every member of the team is passionately interested in wine. Food is simply prepared with impeccable ingredients. But the cheese plates, charcuterie plates and roast potatoes are there mainly to sponge up the main event: a well-priced and thoughtfully curated selection of natural ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • natural wine
  • 9

    Ma Cave Fleury

    Ma Cave Fleury is the unfailingly festive caviste and wine bar founded in 2009 by Morgane Fleury, global ambassador of her family's biodynamic Champagne Fleury. The bar contains nothing more to eat than rudimentary charcuterie and cheese plates, but the wine list is a vast range of her family's champagnes, supplemented by the wines of her friends and peers. Morgane Fleury is like a fairy godmother, her warmth constituting an antidote to the conservative froideur that typifies the public faces of most Champagne houses. With its casual, communal terrace on a street known for porn and grit, Ma Cave Fleury is a rarity in ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • champagne
    • vintage wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoor / patio
  • 10

    Septime Cave

    Chef Bernard Grébaut and wine director Théo Pourriat’s wine bar-slash-wine shop—catty-corner to the Restaurant Septime, their first venture of resplendent reputation—is basically a shanty stocked with wine and some snacks. Heroically under-conceived, Septime Cave is the dinghy to Septime's mothership: a little escape pod for rue de Charonne locals seeking a random weeknight glass. Drinkers can enjoy Grébaut’s product selection and plating in microform and an effective summary of the Septime natural wine list.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • bar food
    • champagne

Related Articles

FROM AROUND THE WEB