Reviving the Vineyards of Paris
Walled vineyards were common in Paris, from the medieval city to the French capital, in the 19th century. Most of the original ones have disappeared but now are being revived! The vines have resumed on the right side of the Seine, with a dozen in Paris and more than 100 vineyards in the Ile-de-France region. Let’s take a little tour through these wine vineyards and wine bars.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, barrels of wine arrived via the river Seine at the warehouses in Bercy, on the outskirts of Paris. The location fast became the largest global market for wines and liquors in the world. The imprint of the wine market can be seen in the Parc de Bercy (128, Quai de Bercy, in the 12th Arrondissement; métro: Bercy), with its exquisite rails and cellars of the Cour Saint-Emilion. On the rooftops of some of these wine bars, you will discover 660 square meters of vineyards, with 350 stocks of chardonnay and sauvignon vines planted in 1996. The wine bar les Caves de Reuilly is located at 11, boulevard de Reuilly, in the 12th Arrondissement; 01 43 47 10 39; métro: Dugommier.
Les Clos des Morillons
Until the end of the 18th century, this vineyard covered the southern part of the Hameau de Vaugirard and produced the Clos de Morillons and Clos des Perichots. Shortly after, enclosed areas faded and gave way to vegetable crops and the slaughterhouses of Vaugirard. To reconnect with the typical tradition, vineyards were replanted in 1983 and include 1,200 square meters of pinot noir, perlette and pinot meunier. The 50 cl bottles are sold at public auctions in the town hall of the 15th Arrondissement. The Parc Georges Brassens is located at 2, rue Jacques Baudry, in the 15th Arrondissement.
The vineyard of Montmartre is the most famous and the oldest. It dates back to the Gallo-Roman period. Cultivated by the wine workers, the vines continued to grow during the Middle Ages and after. During the 18th century, it was close to disappearing, and then in 1932, under the leadership of the society of old Montmartre, the city of Paris planted an enclosed 2,000 stock of vines, mostly gamay and pinot.
In 1935 harvest festivals were founded and continue to this day during the second weekend of October. Yearly, this vineyard produces 800 bottles of red wine sold at auctions to the benefit of the community service projects of the Montmartre celebration committee. Clos Montmartre is located in the rue des Saules, in the 18th Arrondissement.
In the 6th Arrondissement, next to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, do not hesitate to enter the square Félix Desruelles (168 bis, boulevard Saint-Germain). It houses a dozen very rustic vines of gamay. It is the smallest and most chic Parisian vineyard!
La Vigne de Paris-Bagatelle (10, route du Champ d’Entraînement, Bois de Boulogne. 01 45 01 61 43; métro: Pont de Neuilly) is the only private vineyard in the capital. In the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, 400 feet of vines are planted in the private garden of a mansion. Visit the cellar and enjoy the tastings by appointment with the cellar master.
The Guinguettes Story
In the Middle Ages, tavern keepers settled in the village of Lutèce and began to trade with an abundant amount of wine of mediocre quality, which continued until the time of the French Revolution. All of Paris came to loosen up, dance and drink guinguet, a young and sparkling wine, on the outskirts of the city to avoid the taxes traditionally paid on wine. Thus the famous and popular guinguettes, located mostly on the Seine and Marne rivers, were born.
Chez Gégène is certainly the most popular one on the east side of Paris. Like ancient movie stars, come, drink and eat on the Marne, and even get the chance to dance on a sunny Sunday!
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Isabelle du Plessix is the founder of the online guide Wine Chic Travel.