Finding My Piece of Paris

There are countless must-do things in Paris: Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre, Les Marais, etc. All of these are astonishing, alluring, and worthwhile, but when people go to Paris there's something else they want to find: their own little piece of the City of Lights. I don't mean buying property or even your rented hotel room. I mean a little place that you can visit a few times during your trip that feels welcoming and comfortable. A place where you can feel, for just a few days, like a Parisian.

While we were planning our trip to France, I was honestly stressed and anxious that I would not find my little piece. I had been dreaming of it since Anthony Bourdain's Paris episode in 2005. The idea of not finding it scared me, so I made lists upon lists (sorry, Trish!) of wine bars in our hotel's neighborhood and various arrondissements around the city. I picked apart lists and Yelp reviews and countless articles trying to come up with a list of potentials. I even examined every block in our neighborhood on Google Maps. Nothing felt quite right but I knew one of them had to be it.
TRAVEL TIP: Make a plan but stay flexible! It's ok to suspend your agenda when an unexpected gem pops up.
Then we arrived and none of them were it. Not one of the places on my Google Sheets document became my little piece of Paris. We didn't even go to most of them. Because we quickly, unexpectedly found that welcoming spot with delicious wine and friendly faces a few doors down from our hotel at a place that hadn't shown up on lists or maps.

A little French chien that also enjoyed hanging out at Sauvage.

Sauvage on Rue du Cherche-Midi

Just outside of Saint-Germain-des-Prés proper, you'll find Sauvage tucked between small grocers, high-end children's boutiques, and quaint restaurants on Rue du Cherche-Midi. We stumbled upon this tiny wine bar on our first night in Paris after an exceptional dinner at La Lancetta.

Tired and unsure, we expected to just get a glass of wine and hurry on our way. Having already spent time in Bayeux (Normandy) and Reims, we were used to the friendliness of smaller French locales and uncertain how people would be in the capital city. But after a quick "bonjour!", we were met by an upbeat server with a genuine smile as we found a seat at one of the modest tables. He asked us what our favorite wine was and still feeling awkward about our new surroundings, I just blurted out—you guessed it—Beaujolais. He admitted he was excited to find a wine for Americans who preferred fresh and fruity over big and bold and that's when we knew we had found our spot.
Note: I've read on TripAdvisor that Sauvage also serves great food.

Fun, Organic, French Wines

Sauvage might be small but they have an outstanding selection of organic French wines. They also ask your preferences and select bottles for you to try before purchasing—a practice that Trish and I thoroughly enjoyed! We went back almost every night while we were here in Paris to "Bonjour! Here's what you had last night. Tonight, would you like to try one of these?" We revisited our favorite Beaujolais one night but most of the time we gladly accepted their recommendations. Here are a few of the wines we had.

Domaine Vignes du Maynes Haut de Balmont Beaujolais Leynes 2014

This is the bottle we had twice and for good reason. It had everything I love about Gamay: light body, red berries, a touch of minerality, and violets. They say that wine tastes different based on your mood and given how pleased I was to be in a petite wine bar in Paris, I'm sure that played a part, too! This cool and pale wine is from a provider focused on "natural and authentic" wines, which probably explains our practically nonexistent hangovers.

Maison Nicolas Morin Monthelie 2014

Monthelie is an AOC in Côte de Beaune in Burgundy, aka not an appellation I can usually afford but there we were in France, not paying import taxes or giving a shit! This wine is from a hip, young winemaker in Burgundy and it showed. It's graceful like a good Bourgogne but playful, interesting, and true to its terroir thanks to natural winemaking techniques. Our wine bar BFF (who doesn't know we crowned him that) was right on the money with this choice.

Next time I'm in Paris, I won't need lists or maps to know the first place I'm headed. In the shadow Le Bon Marché, I'll be sipping a glass of wine and pestering the employees on the whereabouts of le petit chien I saw last time.

For more French wine travel tips, check out what Trish and I did in Reims.