wine bar

Drink Up! Our Top 5 Wine Bars in Paris

When F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in Paris, he was known for downing an entire bottle of wine – before dinner! These Paris wine bars are perfect for partaking in one of France’s favorite past times (and grabbing a bite to eat, too).

1. Ô-Chateau

The owners of Ô-Chateau got their start giving English-language wine tasting classes in Paris. Their wine bar is all about choice: more than 50 wines by the glass await you in this bar not far from the Louvre, and the knowledgeable sommeliers are more than happy to help you make your selection.

Ô-Chateau – 66, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1st arrondissement

2. Frenchie Bar A Vins

Famously rich, French food often relies upon an accompanying glass of wine to add a welcome touch of acidity and balance. There’s no better place to see this in action than Frenchie Bar à Vins, the wine bar outpost of the famous restaurant just across the street. Here, creative small plates are the perfect pair for an assortment of ever-changing wine choices from across the country (and across the world).

The wine bar doesn’t take reservations, which makes it easier to get into than the restaurant, but be sure to get here early: it fills up fast!

Frenchie Bar à Vins – 6, rue du Nil, 2nd arrondissement

3. La Vache dans les Vignes

This haven for wine and cheese lovers isn’t technically a wine bar, but rather a specialty store that’s also known for its cheese plates. Choose your wine (by the bottle or by the glass) and the number of cheeses you’d like, and your server will pick the wedges that work best with your selection. The owners specialize in selecting wines and cheeses from small producers, so prepare yourself for some pleasant surprises.

La Vache dans les Vignes – 46, quai de Jemmapes, 10th arrondissement

4. Le Garde-robe

Natural wine has been a growing trend in France in the past few years: these wines have no added sulfites and are often described as “alive” by those who love them. Discover them yourself at le Garde-Robe, which specializes in these vins vivants: the staff here is extremely knowledgeable and will be more than happy to guide you in your selection of a bottle and a cheese or charcuterie board to sample along with it.

Le Garde-Robe – 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec, 1st arrondissement

5. Le Barav’

Part wine bar, part restaurant, le Barav’ has something for everyone. The short-and-sweet menu includes classic cheese and charcuterie boards as well as a few little snacks to share highlighting only the best French ingredients: roasted cheese with honey, beef carpaccio, croque monsieur, steak tartare, and a special plat du jour that’s always changing. A regular selection of wines by the glass and an enormous 250-reference cellar will keep you coming back for more.

Le Barav’ – 6 Rue Charles-François Dupuis, 3rd arrondissement

If you want to learn even more about French wine, let us be your (very enthusiastic) guides: our Best Bites of Paris tour is a great way to learn more about wine and terroir.

claude monet - impression, soleil levant

5 Off-the-Beaten Path Museums in Paris to Keep Warm this January

While some would say that very little holds a candle to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, these behemoths of Paris’ museumscape are far from the only spots you can take in the city’s art, history, and culture. Here are just five of the dozens of museums in Paris that we think are worth a second glance.

1. Musée Marmottan

If you’ve been to the Orsay and the nearby Orangerie to see Claude Monet’s famous waterlilies, then the Marmottan should be your next stop. This former private home in the 16th arrondissement is home to the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings (and over 300 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works in all). It also houses Marmottan family’s collection of Napoleonic era art and furniture, giving you a small glimpse at what it might have been like to live in Paris in the 19th century.

2. Musée Jacquemart-André

Another small private home, this time in Paris’ 8th arrondissement, the Jacquemart-André is as much a discovery of this gorgeous mansion as of the collections housed within. Visitors tour through the formal state apartments, the informal apartments, the private apartments of the André family, the winter garden, and the Italian museum, which houses collections of 15th and 16th century Italian sculpture and paintings, including works by Donatello, Botticelli, and Bellini.

3. Musée des Egouts

Yep, you read that right: this museum is devoted to the sewer system of Paris. The history of Paris is inextricably linked to the river Seine, which was once the sewer through the city. When Napoleon began building the sewer system, it modernized the city exponentially. This (slightly smelly) museum takes you through these developments, from ancient times to the present.

4. Memorial de la Shoah

Founded in 2005, the Shoah memorial houses several exhibits dedicated to the plight of the Jewish people of France, many of whom lived in the Marais, where the museum is located. The museum is home notably to the Wall of Names, listing the approximately 76,000 Jewish people deported from France during the war.

5. Espace Dalí

Located up in beautiful Montmartre, this museum features over 300 original pieces from Surrealist master Salvador Dalí. Each year, the museum houses a new temporary exhibit, and it also displays modern works from local artists in tandem with Dalí’s masterpieces.

 

galette des rois

The Low-Down on French King Cake (And Where to Find it in Paris!)

France may no longer have a king, but we do have King Cake, a traditional dessert you’ll find in pastry shops all over the country just in time for Epiphany on January 6th.

While King Cake, or galette des rois, was once a Catholic tradition associated with the arrival of the three wise men at the birthplace of Jesus, in secular France, the cake has become more of a celebration of the New Year: you’ll find galettes on French tables from the beginning of January through to the end of February – and with it, an intriguing tradition.

What Is King Cake?

Unlike in New Orleans, where King Cake is made with a brioche dough and brightly colored icing, in France, galette is a combination of buttery puff pastry and frangipane, a sweetened almond-based paste similar to marzipan.

Most galettes are big enough to share, though you’ll also find individual portioned ones, as well as galettes with added flavors, like pistachio, coconut, or chocolate.

How Do You Eat a King Cake?

King Cake is not eaten like other pastries: there is a ritual involved in galettes, and it begins with the youngest member of the party getting under the table.

You see, each King Cake contains a fève: in the past, a fava bean was used, though most modern galettes contain instead a porcelain trinket, hidden in one of the pieces. Once the youngest member of the party is under the table, the galette is sliced, and as the slicer points to each piece, the names of the other members of the party are called out from under the table, assigning each slice to a diner.

Once each person has his or her slice, it’s time to dig in, but attention! The fève can be hard on the teeth if you’re not expecting it. The person with the fève in his or her slice gets to be king (or queen) of the day, sporting a golden paper crown that is sold with the galette itself.

Where Can I Try one?

While galettes are sold in nearly every pastry shop in the capital, there are a few that are noteworthy.

Pierre Hermé, for example, is a master not only of the macaron but of the galette: his version is available in plain, chocolate, and ispahan varieties (the last is a fruity combination of rose, raspberry, and litchi.) The unique spiral design of the top of the galette is reflected in the abstract shape of the fève within.

Benoit Castel is another favorite this year: his inverted puff pastry is crisper and lighter than most, and his traditional filling is elevated thanks to Madagascar vanilla. The fèves were produced in collaboration with le Coq Toqué, a producer of artisanal Normandy apple cider: some Kings will also win a bottle of the cider for a very regal tasting indeed!

Discovered any other delicious galettes in Paris? Tell us about your favorites in the comments or on Facebook.

Image care of Steph Gray