Perhaps the most striking index of Parisians' newfound thirst for beer is the rate at which the brown stuff is being taken up by traditional wine merchants. Artisanal lagers and ales are increasingly found alongside the usual bottles of rouge and champagne, while dedicated beer shops are expanding into ever more specialised territory. Read on for our pick of the crop.
Our favourite beer shops
Is there a lovelier beer shop in the capital than Paris Saint Bière? If so, the honour surely goes to its sister venue, situated around the corner on Rue de Charonne. Between them, the pair stock an extraordinary range of brews from Belgium, Germany, the UK and France, alongside novelty brands from the likes of Senegal and Jamaica. The owner's catalogue extends to over 2,000 varieties, including some of the world's rarest (such as Brewmeister's notorious Armageddon, whose alcohol content registers at a frankly intimidating 65%)... Read more
This wonderful little establishment was once the site of a grocer's named Le Phare de Saint-Maur. When the wine merchant next door shut up shop four years ago, Le Phare decided to take up the mantle – and hey presto, Hop Malt Market was born, to the delight of discerning beer-drinkers the city over. A few things mark this venue out from the crowd: its excellent choice of craft and artisanal beers; its 2am closing time; and the eccentric charm of the owner, who invites punters to play him at chess on a table outside while sampling one of his brews... Read more
A visit to this beer store will likely fill your shopping bag with more than bottles; found in the Saint-Quentin market, Bièrissime sits opposite a butcher's and a stone's throw from a cheese shop, both hard to resist on your culinary wanderings. Inside, there's a huge range of beer brands to choose from – from the basic Tsing Tao to the special Abstrakt AB:04 by Brew Dog (coffee, cocoa and chili in a brew at 15%). This little boutique manages to stay accessible and generalist in Paris's rapidly expanding circle of beer specialists... Read more
It takes a stretch of the imagination to accept the quiet residential suburb of Pernety as the 'beer district' of Paris; yet this is precisely the assertion of Lionel Libert, owner of Chop'In. Lionel's vast knowledge of all things malty and fizzy extends beyond the heaving shelves of his grog shop – ask him to recommend bars in the area, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you're in Munich circa Oktoberfest time. But while you're here, you may as well try one of Chop'In's obscure artisanal beers onsite (a small bar and seating area are installed for this purpose).
Wine is no longer king of the cellar, even in France, where you half expect the population’s veins to run with premier cru. The global trend for craft beers has inspired several Parisian beer boutiques in Paris, introducing many an amateur to the pleasure of eclectic bottles and offbeat breweries. The range of possibilities is instructive: Trappist beer, Belgian abbey beer, lager, high or low fermentation, hoppy and bitter or fruity and sweet. And since 2007, Bières Cultes (Cult Beers) has been developing a particularly fine menu of flavours... Read more
With Paris seized by a newfound passion for the amber nectar, it's high time we revisited the capital's oldest beer shop. Its precise date of birth has been lost in the mists of time and intoxication, but Bootlegger has been plying its trade in Belgian brews since at least 1976. Successive generations of owners have extended its range, so that it now offers everything from English microbrewery products to über-rare Czech bottles. And if this doesn't draw you in, perhaps the shop's imposing red façade – daubed with beer brand names scrawled in gothic font – will.
Where to buy wine in Paris
Located right in the middle of the bustling Rue Daguerre, you can't miss the lemon-yellow frontage of La Cave des Papilles. The owner, a lover of 'natural' wine, has been operating in Paris for 16 years, and of the 1200 wines on offer, 80% are produced organically, while the rest are more traditional. The owner knows each supplier personally, most of them independent French wine growers (Frédéric Cossard in Burgundy, la Maison Pierre Overnoy in the Jura and Jean-Yves Perron in Savoy, to name a few). Lovers of bubbles can find a good selection of champagnes (e.g. Emmanuel Lassaigne, or a very sought after one by Vincent Laval), plus magnums and spirits (whiskies, cognacs, armagnacs). La Cave des Papilles itself has a hand in certain vintages, particularly during the blending stage (l’assemblage), producing bottles under the Cave des Papilles brand. It's not outrageously priced either: with a choice of 60 to 80 bottles between €3 and €10 Euros, even the strapped for cash will leave happy.
A forward-thinking and playful wine bar. There are no less than 100 varieties on display in self-service cabinets, each with detailed tasting notes available via touchscreen. Bottles are classified according to their robustness, from the lightest whites to the stickiest fortified vintages, via fruity reds and tannic wines. Each client gets a loyalty card (€2 if you don’t want a permanent one) which keeps track of everything you’ve drunk – useful information for the delightful staff who advise you on each visit. Once you’ve added credit, you insert the card into one of the distribution points and choose your vintage. Price varies from €1.40 to €7, depending on the wine and the amount you drink. World wines and small independent producers are covered as well as the big oak-aged bottles, and the range is regularly updated. You can also buy the bottles that most take your fancy.There are some great dishes available to mop up the booze, available in large or small portions (€12 or €22). The only downside is the slightly stuffy after-work atmosphere, perhaps the fault of the bar’s location near the businessmen- and tourist-traps of the Place Vendôme and Champs-Elysées. Here’s hoping they open a Wine by One in a more bohemian neighbourhood, with a warmer décor and a local late-night crowd.
The Cave de l’Insolite (Cellar of the Unusual) is on Rue de la Folie Méricourt ('Mad Mericourt Street'), but the Baraquin brothers (Arnaud and Axel, who used to work for Thierry Faucher at Cave de l’Os à Moelle and Thierry Blanqui at ‘Beurre Noisette’, respectively) aren't crazy, except for good food and wine. Since it opened in 2011, this welcoming restaurant/winery has quickly become a favourite in the Oberkampf district. In the large neo-rustic room, you choose your food from the blackboard menu, and choose your wine directly from the well-stocked shelves, with over 120 reasonably priced vintages. Favourites include a Sainte Epine from the Ardèche produced by Hervé Souhaut, Le Pressoir de Saint Pierre by Renaud Guettier in Touraine, a Terre des Chardons ‘Bien Luné’ from Nîmes. All these wines come from hand-harvested grapes from small vineyards of not more than 6 hectares.
In the heart of the once-rural Batignolles district, Le Vin en Tête has been supplying wine enthusiasts for over 10 years. Some of its popular featured producers are Michel Augé (Côteaux de Loire), Jean-Michel Stephan (Côte Rôtie), Sébastien Riffaut (Sancerre), Jean Delobre from the Ardèche, and even Annette Leccia from Corsica. The walls of the shop are papered with posters for Kaurismäki’s film ‘Le Havre’, which was shot on location in Normandy and celebrated with a special vintage by the Domaine de Courbissac.Not content with stocking more than 1200 wines and spirits, ‘Le Vin en Tête’, also takes a teaching role, seeking to educate and to make the science behind wine-making interesting to as many as possible. You’ll find the cartoon ‘The Drops of God’ here, a serious attempt to make oenology more accessible.For those interested in learning the subtle differences between natural and biodynamic wine (80% of their wines are produced bio-dynamically) you can sign up for one of their numerous courses or go along to the weekly tastings.