This week, I am writing to you on the road again. We are sitting on the train on our way to Reims to attend the 7th annual Terres & Vins the Champagne event. It is a cooperation between 24 small and medium sized champagne houses producing quality bubbly from solely their own grapes. Among the attending will be some of my favorites: Oliver Horiot, Laherte & Fills, Marie-Noelle Ledru and many more. This is the first time we are attending, and I must say there have not been many wine events this year that have excited me as much as this one. I will be writing more about it next week.
Now to the last 24h spent in Paris. We embarked on our trip already on Friday as we thought we might as well have a look around while we are here. It has been 5-7 years for both me and M since we were here, so much has changed (perhaps in our preferences and interests as well). So what do you go and see if you only have 24h? The Louvre, Notre Dame or the Eiffel tower? Well, we saw the Louvre while briskly walking past towards our real passion, wine shops, cafes and bars.
Our expectations about Paris were mixed. We knew there would be great stuff, we were just not sure we would find it. With hours and hours of advance research on Google, we found a good number of recommendations. We were just not sure whether these English language sites would lead us to what we were looking for. You knever know if the French want to keep the gems of the city to themselves. Well, seems there were gems to share as we were very happy with what we found. And we didn’t even need to know French to find it. Here is a list of places we visited:
1. Vivant Cafe and Bar: Walking distance from our hotel in district 10, Vivant is a cozy bar serving mid-sized dishes and interesting wines. We had some great Austrian sparkling (8€ per glass), creamy foie gras with fresh apple, white asparagus and a spicy pasta. All dishes were great and prices did not hurt the wallet. A dinner for two with four glasses of wine set us back less than 90€ (we didn’t have any dessert though). Just prepare for a cozy atmosphere as the bar is small and people are seated close to each other.
2. Coinstot Vino: Located in a small passageway, Coinstot Vino serves tapas-like plates and pizzas. They have a good selection of wine by the glass, trend being natural production (this seemed to be the trend in the whole of Paris). We only stopped by for an aperitif glass of bubbly and were not disappointed by the staff recommendations. A glass of champagne (from Fleury, see below) was only 9€ (!!!). Next time, I will also try out the pizzas as we heard some good things about them along the way.
3. Ma Cave Fleury: A wonderful and quirky wine bar and shop owned by the producer, Madam Fleury. She produces great bio-dynamic bubbly (Champagne) and also some white and red wines. We tried out the Brut Nature (zero dosage) and Millessime 2006, both toasty with mineral flavors. I must say I preferred the zero dosage and we walked out with a few bottles to take home. Prices for wine by the glass and bottles are very reasonable (7-15€ byt the glass and starting from 27€ by the bottle).
4. La Derniere Goutte: this small wine shop carries a wonderful selection of Champagne, mainly from small producers. In the selection you can find names like Agrapart & Fills and Jaques Selosse being the most familiar of them all (you will not find Möet here). On Saturdays they have visiting wine producers introducing and sampling their wines, and we were lucky enough to meet a very interesting lady from South France. She produced fresh and light reds and whites with minerally notes (just the way we like it), so we ended up walking out with our bottles and her business card.
5. Frenchies Bar a Vins: This is a more casual sibling of the find dining Bistro Frenchie across the street. We were hesitating whether to go as we had read that the queues are long to this no-reservations wine bar, and it was no other than Saturday night. Luckily we decided to walk past at opening time (19:00) and saw that the queue was manageable. We got in at the first seating. Later we discovered that the Saturday opening was new, thus many (including Google maps) expected them to be closed. The wines were interesting (also following the trend of ‘Natural’) and the food was exquisite. We tried out some wonderful terrine with pickled vegetables, Ricotta tortellinis with pea sauce, Pappardelle with lamb and chicken with asparagus. The ambience reminded me of José or Bubbledogs in London: casual and relaxed with friendly staff.
There are several other great places worth mentioning: the beautiful wine shop of LeGrand Fillets et Fills, Le Verre Vole and numerous great coffee shops that we sampled along the way (M will have plenty of material for Coffee Mondays). One additional place worth mentioning, due to it being the biggest disappointment of all, was the Bar 8 at the Mandarin Oriental. We can admit it, it was a bit of a risk to go there, however we had read that it was one of The places to go for a glass of champagne. However, the selection was dead boring (Bollinger, Veuve Cliquot, Tattinger etc) and a glass of (basic, non-vintage) champagne closer to 30€. We had some tea insted. The ambiance also reminded me of an upscale 80’s disco, so we were not tempted to linger after our tea was finished. Not to be too negative, they did have spotless service though.
That was a quick recap of our day in Paris. All in all it was wonderful and I must admit that Paris has perhaps won me over. I am anticipating that the city will now be on our annual list of to-visits.