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La Cave de Belleville

La Cave de Belleville’s unlikely origins sound like the set-up for a knock-knock joke: a pharmacist, a sound engineer, and a gallerist open a cave-à-manger. François Braouezec, Aline Geller, and Thomas Perlmutter deserve a lot of credit for the scale of their ambitions, as La Cave de Belleville, open every day of the week, is at once a wine shop, an épicerie, and a vast, casual wine bar. The airy, well-lit space (a former leather wholesaler) positively bustles at apéro hour, when locals nip in for inexpensive plates of charcuterie, cheese, and canned delicacies. The trio’s limited industry experience is sometimes evident in the inconsistency of the shop’s maximalist selections of wine, spirits, and beer. (Were the wine not mostly natural, it would be hard to call it a “selection”. Filling shelves seems to have been the priority.) But one senses the owners’ intentions are sincere, and the Belleville neighborhood – chaotic, culture-clashy, forever on the cusp of gentrification – stands to benefit greatly from a friendly, accessible social anchor like La Cave de Belleville.

Edible Montreuil

Don’t get excited: Paris has no Brooklyn. Due to short-sighted urban planning in mid-century, Paris is cinched into its ring-road, le péripherique, like a dress it wore sixty years ago and never removed. The sheer impracticality of crossing this eternally congested ring-road has long prevented, in les banlieues, development of establishments Parisians might consider destinations. For Parisians, you’re either within city limits, or you’re way, way out. 

Aux Deux Cygnes

Well-appointed, informal and lightly exotic, rue Keller wine bar Aux Deux Cygnes is the answer for any casual diner looking to drink natural wine and snack on something other than the usual cheese plates and charcuterie. French-Vietnamese owner To Xuân Cuny shuttles between service and the kitchen, where she turns out a tasty array of sandwiches and small plates influenced by both her Vietnamese heritage and her experience in the Michelin-starred restaurant world. The latter means Aux Deux Cygnes is among the cleanest and most hospitable of Paris wine bars. The former finds expression in a tasty banh-mi, as well as some delicately piquant mackerel rillettes that arrive beneath a bright heap of cilantro. The natural wine selection perched amid the bar’s pretty triangular shelving is nicely curated to emphasize atypical grape varieties and marginal regions. If the overall experience at Aux Deux Cygnes can veer towards the dainty at times, it still makes for a welcome change from the mélée of beards and egos one encounters in many more traditional Paris natural wine bars.

La Crèmerie

Practical information

Address: 9 rue des Quatre-Vents, 75006
Nearest transport: Odéon (4, 10)
Hours: Closed Sunday and for Monday lunch. Open for wine sales and as a wine bar from 11am-2:30pm and from 6-10:30pm.
Reservations: Strongly recommended for dinner because the small, intimate space often fills up
Telephone: 01 43 54 99 30
Average price for lunch: 10-19€
Average price for dinner: 20-34€
Style of cuisine: classic French, small plates
Website

Reviews of interest

Le Fooding (2013) “The little bites are wonders: Albacore tuna from the île d’Yeu, little smoked trout terrine, blood sausage with onions from La Maison Galland in Touraine, authentic ham and Bordier butter sandwich. As for the nectars, glasses of red (Roussilon Tam-Tam du Domaine du Bout du Monde at €7 a glass) and white (Touraine Petit Buisson du Clos du Tue-Boeuf at €7 a glass).”

Ma Cave Fleury

Inexpensive couples of quality grower's champagne served on a nice outdoor terrace overlooking... a gritty street lined with sex clubs and prostitutes. It's quite a combo. The charcuterie and cheese plates are standard, but it's the warm, witty personality of the proprietor and former comedienne Morgane Fleury that is the main draw for those looking for affordable, natural wine.

Maison Claudel Vin et Whisky

This wonderful place is both a shop and tasting space for the Claudel’s dual obsessions, wine and whisky. The shop sells 300 references for each, and those who want to sip on the spot can choose between 24 wines and 80 whiskeys by the glass. Leather club chairs and a selection of small bites make this a great stop before dinner nearby.