Cave at La Grande Epicerie de Paris

This grande dame of comestible retail has expanded rapidly and somewhat chaotically over the last few years. As a consequence, the once well-controlled wine shop has moved to the basement, leaving confusion in its wake.

As ever, there are a lot of well-known labels, in all price ranges (though carrying a not-insignificant markup; one doesn’t shop at Le Grand Epicerie looking for bargains). There’s a rare wine room, flashily-displayed champagne (sadly, largely devoid of its once-extensive grower-producers and now heavily weighted towards big négociants), a Bacchanalian surplus of magnums, and a fair selection of foreign wine and spirits that can be hard to come by elsewhere.

But that’s assuming one can find anything. Wines are wrapped around columns, shoveled under the occasionally-staffed registers, and laid to rest in coolers where one has to squint at tags to know what lies behind. For all its treasures, this is not a store that encourages unfocused browsing.

The Bombardier

A hub for English culture, this pub proudly pours “real ales” from Wells & Young’s, beers in classic English styles you won’t find elsewhere in Paris. Traditional English pub fare is served at lunch and a full English breakfast is offered on weekends. With rugby and soccer/football matches on TV and a pub quiz every Sunday, it would be easy to think you were in England. 

A la Bière Comme à la Bière

“Boissons vivantes & épicerie funk” announces the tagline on this small, brightly decorated storefront. Inside, you’ll find nearly 200 different bottled craft beers from Europe and North America, many kept chilled for immediate consumption. The colorful interior is cheerful and inviting, and the enthusiasm of owners Jean-Baptiste and Dédé is infectious.

Les Trois 8

Revolutionary for Paris, this shoebox-sized bar just north of the lively Oberkampf district has a lot to offer lovers of craft beer… and their natural wine-drinking friends, too. French beer is well-represented both on the eight rotating taps and in the 80 or so bottles on offer, featuring such breweries as Outland (Ile-de-France), Sainte-Crucienne (Alsace), and Northmaen (Normandy). French bar snacks (cheese and charcuterie boards) and a small selection of natural wines available by the bottle or glass round out the menu. Service is friendly and knowledgeable, eager to help you find just the beverage you’re after, even if it’s something you’ve never tried before. 

La Fine Mousse

Boasting the very best selection of craft beers on tap in Paris, as well as a bottle collection that brings the total offer up to 150 different beers, La Fine Mousse is certainly one of the city’s most well-stocked beer bars.  It’s also one of the most expensive.  French craft beers share real estate with lesser-known Belgians and German brews, with room left over for the USA, the Netherlands, and less-represented places like Norway and Italy to show off their brewing prowess.  The meticulously curated beer list includes deep tracks from Brasserie St. Germain and Brewdog, and the descriptions (in French or English) will help you find just the beer you’re looking for.  Serious beer geeks abound, the quiet atmosphere of the early evening eventually giving way to a lively party vibe as the social lubricant kicks in.