Some people love them; some people hate them, but natural wines have without question garnered a growing interest and attention across the Paris dining-scape.
Aaron Ayscough from the wine blog Not Drinking Poison in Paris describes the natural wine movement as a growing subset of wine lovers who “argue that true wine must spring from the land unguided, with zero intervention and above all no sulfites, like a mythical beanstalk leading straight to heaven.”
The bounty from this mythical heaven-bound beanstalk ranges from interesting to fascinating to weird, but the more you drink it, the more it tends to grow on you. Those standard wines seem so boring now. You know exactly what you’re going to get.
Natural wines aren’t for everyone, but you’d missing out on a major part of the Paris food & wine world if you didn’t check out at least one natural wine bar in Paris.
To be honest, the natural wine bar is a restaurant category in its own right, since most of them serve some sort of food. They are some of the most fun spots to dine, in my opinion. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but some favorites that are worth adding to your list.
For those who want to get their feet wet, or have already made the dive and wish to swim further, here are a few wine bars where you can get your fix and go au naturel.
Natural Wine Bars in Paris
Aux Deux Amis
A favorite late night hang-out amongst the food industry, Aux Deux Amis is a wine bar with delightful and ever-changing small plates, and the place is always buzzing.
Address: 45 Rue Oberkampf, 75011
Open Tuesday-Saturday 2:30pm-2am
La Cave du Paul Bert
La Cave du Paul Bert is unexpectedly great. I say that because Bistro Paul Bert does old world classic French just down the street, and at the other end of the street, there’s Le 6 Paul Bert, which is more contemporary French fare. So you’ve got La Cave du Paul Bert in the middle. Last time I went, it was bustling, and I had a lovely funky orange wine to start (and by start, I mean, we went through 3 glasses each before moving onto a new full bottle of the same). We ordered the entire menu (plus seconds), throroughtly enjoyed the small plates, and bought a bottle of Pfifferling to go.
If you’re visiting Paris, then I suggest stopping here for pre-dinner for drinks and a couple plates before heading over to Bistro Paul Bert or Le 6 Paul Bert. No reservations accepted for the Cave (Pronounced “cahv”, not “cave” like the bat cave) .
Go for some well selected bottles, a picturesque location, and to rub elbows with other natural wine lovers. Birds of a feather.
Address: 26bis Passage des Panoramas, 75002
Monday-Saturday 12-3pm, 6pm-1am
La Cave à Michel
Squeeze in with the nightly crowd clamoring for former Top Chef contestant Romain Tischenko’s small plates at this small, popular natural wine bar next to Le Galopin. It’s standing room only, and perhaps a little out there for some, in Belleville. Personally, I have never regretted a night laughing with friends, sharing plates, and drinking good wine in close quarters. No reservations accepted because there’s no tables to reserve.
Address: 36 Rue Sainte-Marthe, 75010
For the very advanced natural wine lovers, or those who want to be in with the cool crowd, La Buvette is an apéro darling amongst the food and wine lovers of Paris. A chat with owner Camille Fourmont is like a treasured stamp on your wine passport or a Paris food & wine lovers’ rite of passage. Come in for a bottle or a glass and grab a selection of nibbles like saucisson, paté, marinated white beans, or a spot of fromage.
Careful – There’s “Buvette” the restaurant in the 9th with a sister restaurant in NYC, and there’s La Buvette in the 11th. This one’s in the 11th.
Address: 67 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011
Okay, so Clown Bar, while having “Bar” in the name, is a full-on restaurant, but it does have a bar that you can sit at, so we’ll let it slide. Especially since they do have such a great selection of natural wines to go with their fantastic food. If an Eater article entitled “This is the Most Thrilling Restaurant in Paris” doesn’t peak your interest, I don’t know what will. And yes, the veal brains are delicious.
Address: 114 Rue Amelot, 75011
Open Wed-Sat 12-2:30pm, 7-10:30pm
Closed Monday/ Tuesday
Reserve in advance.
Restaurant Vivant started as a Pierre Jancou restaurant in 2011. Then Vivant Cave, the sister wine bar next door, opened and Vivant-the-restaurant became Vivant Table. Jancou sold the restaurant in 2013, and that owner sold it in 2015, and the restaurant formerly known as V. Table closed early 2016. Vivant Cave, the wine bar, is now Vivant. And that’s how Vivant became Vivant Table and Vivant Cave became Vivant.
The important thing is…Vivant is still vivant (French for “living” or “alive”). Young chef Pierre Touitou (ex Aux Deux Amis) is keeping it going strong, and his reputation is making Vivant a place to be again. Raphaële Marchal of French food blog En Rang d’Oignons said it might be her favorite in Paris at the moment. Her Instagram account testifies to what a restaurant maven she is, so that’s saying something.
Address: 43 Rue des Petites Écuries, 75010
Open Mon-Fri 7pm-1am
Best to reserve.
Speaking of… Natural wine aficionado Pierre Jancou is at it again (Resumé: Racines, Crèmerie, Vivant Table, Vivant Cave, Heimat). His new-ish wine bar delivers fresh shareable plates of whatever’s fresh from the market and usually a pasta since Jancou has a longstanding love affair with Italian cuisine and fresh pasta. On the menu, you might find tuna tartare, monkfish, sole, or spaghetti all’Amatriciana. If you liked Vivant Cave, you’ll like Achille. Three things this man knows: Natural wine, good food, and atmosphere.
Bar à Vins A.T.
This small underground wine bar is hidden below Restaurant A.T. in the 5th near Cardinal Lemoine. Chef Atsushi will blow you away with the magic he creates on those small plates of his. It’s a gastronomic restaurant upstairs with a no-choice 95€ tasting menu at night (55€ at lunch). It’s small plates, wines, and a relaxed atmosphere downstairs at the wine bar. Enter the restaurant, and go left down the staircase in the middle of the room.
The ambiance varies on any given night. I’ve been the only person downstairs at 8pm, blissfully eating small masterpieces by myself. It has also been known to host impromptu ragers with chefs & sommeliers from all over Paris until the wee hours. Keep an eye out on Facebook either on the Bar a Vins A.T. page or the Restaurant A.T. page for their Skin Contact parties.
Address: 4bis Rue du Cardinal Lemoine
Open Tue-Sun 7pm-2am
Le Perchoir doesn’t really count as a dedicated natural wine bar, but it does have something worth appreciating: A rooftop bar. It’s one of the only reasonably priced rooftop terraces in Paris. Hang out with the cool crowd upstairs over natural wine, craft cocktails & craft beers, or make a reservation for the downstairs restaurant’s no-choice tasting menu.
In the summer, you should get there around 6pm if you hope to make it up. It often fills up and then you’ll have to wait, or maybe not get up at all unless you have a restaurant reservation. In the winter, there’s a cozy tent that still looks classy with the draping lights.
Address: 14 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011
Open Tue-Sat 6pm-1am (opens at 5pm on Saturday)
Cosy Septime Cave is located caddy-corner from culinary hot spots Septime and Clamato. You have to order small plates along with your wine (twist my arm). It has to do with how the place is classified as an eating establishment rather than a bar. Sibling restaurant Septime is a hard reservation to get, but it’s popular for a reason, so go for it. Just stop here before your reservation.
Address: 3 Rue Basfroi, 75011
Open daily 4-11pm
Natural Wine in Paris
If you’re not too familiar with natural wines, then sure, every now and again an ultra funky bottle can taste like the inside of a rusty pipe. But for the most part, they are wonderfully minerally and earthy and delightful. Yes, they’ve got the funk, but in a way that breaks you out of your typical know-exactly-what-you’re-going-to-get wine habits.
So go on, live a little. Put yourself in the very capable hands of the wine guy or gal. Tell them what you tend to like, and climb that mythical beanstalk.