Updated: Oct 11, 2018
Some people thought I was crazy when I told them I’d be venturing off to the City of Lights during my four day Easter weekend. “It’s not worth it,” they said. “You’ll never be able to cram enough in.” Well guess what…they were SO WRONG! I quite possibly fit more into this trip than when I was there for six days previously.
As I sit here with a glass of Chinon getting re-inspired to tell you about my trip, I can’t help but smile thinking about all the wine I drank and the fashion that embraced me on the cobblestone streets. I mean, what could be better than visiting the Chanel Flagship store on Rue Cambon before spending the evening drinking Bourgogne at the Ritz Bar?! It’s QUITE possible for a wino to fit it all in four days, and I’m ready to share the “must-do’s” for every wine lover wanting to visit the most romantic city in the world.
Before dinner on the first night, we suited up and waltzed on over to the Ritz Carlton to visit the world-famous Bar Hemingway. During the times of WWII, it was said that Hemingway “liberated” this bar from the Nazis and although the hotel has gone through a major renovation, I still felt like I was going to see Coco Chanel and Scott Fitzgerald at any given moment. Although the drink menu consisted of all hand-crafted cocktails, they had an incredible selection of sparklers perfect for wine enthusiasts. My pink drink arrived with a stemmed rose oozing luxury and romance. It doesn’t matter how many days you’re planning on being in Paris...Bar Hemingway is a MUST!
The next mandatory place for winos to visit is called, La Robe et Le Palais. This restaurant was recommended to us by a WSET Diploma acquaintance so I knew the wine selection would be fantastic. When we walked in to the restaurant we were greeted with wooden beams, exposed stone walls, and beautiful dim lit candles. Our server was super charismatic and let us know the wine selection was completely all natural. Before I could even ask for a wine list, I was asked what kind of wine I was into. Instead of the patron choosing a bottle from a list, you tell your server what you like and they choose the bottle for you. While I patiently waited for him to return with my crown jewel, I decided to take a trip downstairs to visit the ladies room…and man was I glad I did!
It was a dream cellar and everything quintessential Paris you would imagine in your mind. I was in love. Upon returning, the bottle had arrived and it was just what the doctor ordered. La Porte Saint Jean Les Carmiers 2013 from Saumur. A lot of fruit, a little pepper, high acid and medium tannins graced my palate as it paired perfectly with just about every cheese, meat, and carb on my dinner plate. The waiter completely nailed it.
Upon our journey home, we found the cutest bar near our Airbnb apartment in the Marais neighborhood. La Belle Hortense is a super quiet local spot that doubles as a bookstore/wine bar. When we walked in, it was quite apparent we were the only tourists inside. There were older men in tweed sport jackets and the women were wearing sweaters with over-sized scarves. Everyone was laughing with each other and stepping in and out to fashionably smoke a cigarette or two. The menu was simple, but had everything you could possibly want from a wine bar at midnight. We ended our evening with a 6 euro Bourgogne, and I never felt more Parisian in my life.
The next day was my favorite because we did a ‘Tour De France of Wine’ tasting at a wine bar called, Ô Chateau. The tasting was guided by French Sommelier, Olivier Magny who also started the bar at age 23. For 59 € /person, you will taste one champagne and five wines…and trust me when I say they aren’t stingy with the pours! The experience was perfect for anyone with an interest in wine that wouldn’t mind getting to know the French regions, how to read a label, and maybe why they like the wines they do. Although most of the info was review for me, I could see my husband and the people around me learning and finding their own “wine moments”. We even got to take home a little “cheat sheet” booklet explaining the French Wine 101 basics perfect for anyone just starting out.
Olivier was truly a charismatic teacher that shattered all stereotypes of what an American may expect from a Parisian Sommelier. The way he brought humor into the room helped our group of strangers loosen up and not be afraid to ask questions. He was extremely witty and his passion for wine shined greater than the sun (which makes sense considering he is the author of several published books). With that being said, the whole point of my blog is to show the world that wine doesn’t have to be so “stuffy” …it’s about finding what wine means to you, and I can honestly say this tasting was both light-hearted and inspiring.
Ô Chateau also offers more than just recreational French wine tastings. If you ever wanted to take a day trip to Champagne, learn how to make wine, or take a Champagne cruise, you can easily sign up on the website here. Offering over 50 wines by the glass, Ô Chateau is essential pre-dinner reservation.
Finally, I need to mention a street I like to call, “Wine Bar Row.” No, that’s not a real thing however Rue Saint Sauveur has more wine bars in one proximity than I’ve ever seen...and I live in New York City. We only had time to visit one, but Redd Bar à Vin was an excellent choice. Choosing a red wine flight of the server’s choice, I traveled from the Loire to Chateauneuf du Pape down to the Languedoc all whilst being romanced by stringed lights knotted up with champagne corks. Looking out to the cobblestone streets I wondered how I was ever going to leave this most perfect city.
Although we did A LOT in just under four days, there were still some places we didn’t get a chance to visit so please, if you go, visit them for me. Frenchie, Clown Bar and Le Baron Rouge just to name a few.
It is thought that all New Yorkers wished they were Parisians and all Parisians wished they were New Yorkers…and when you think about it, we do love a lot of the same things: our city, our food, and our zest for all things beautiful. So, winos of the Concrete Jungle, I beg you…if you have a 4-day holiday weekend, take that quick 6 ½ hour flight. I'll end with this- If you can’t find your wine moment in Paris…I don’t know where you’ll find it!