Top Three Places for Champagne in Paris

Champagne is probably the most mythical of all French wines, that one does not drink every day but only on special occasions. One talks about Champagne while there are a great number of wines of Champagne, all very different from each other. And there is much to learn about Champagne so as to appreciate and love it even more… if that’s possible!

There are many wine shops or wine bars in Paris… but only few places dedicated to Champagne. I wish to introduce you to the best of them, all three very confidential but not to be missed by any Champagne lover.

The Champagne Bar Le Dokhan’s: The most refined
Champagne Bar Le Dokhan's - Paris - Intimate and refined
Champagne Bar Le Dokhan’s – Paris – Intimate and refined

The most ancient and remarkable Champagne Bar in Paris is located inside a charming boutique hotel in 16th arrondissement of Paris, Le Dokhan’s. It has an intimate and timeless atmosphere especially when it is simply lit by candlelight.

One can sit either next to the bar in a green living room with wainscoting from 17th century ; or next to the fire place in another elegant living room furnished with antiques and decorated with Matisse and Picasso drawings. Both are charming but my favourite is the one with the bar.

The Champagne list is awesome: 250 different references, including exceptional bottles that cannot be found anywhere else ; but also champagnes produced by independent wine growers unearthed by Arthur, the chief sommelier. One can order either a bottle, a glass or a tasting of 3 different champagnes of independent wine growers, which is in my opinion the best experience.

It is a real pleasure to listen to Arthur explaining you the different soils and grape varieties, showing you the various kinds of glasses to drink Champagne, telling you the history of their shape and helping you to choose the best one to taste the champagne that you wish to drink. And he could talk forever about the wine growers whose champagne you are tasting : Who are they? What is the story fo their family? How do they work?…

The armchairs are very comfortable, the atmosphere very relaxing, refined without being stilted… One leaves the place with regret thinking about coming back the next month to taste the new selection of 3 champagnes; or to attend one of the tasting of wine growers or jazz evenings regularly proposed by the Bar Le Dokhan’s. Before leaving the hotel I suggest you having a look at the elevator whose cage is unique: it is made with a genuine vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk. Back to a time when travel was an art!

Dilettantes: A Champagne Shop… and more
Champagne Shop in Paris - Producers of the month
Dilettantes – The Champagne Shop in Paris – Producers of the month

To be a ‘Dilettante’ is to have just an amateur interest in something, to do it for pleasure. One could not have chosen a better name! Indeed since she opened the first and unique Champagne Shop in Paris five years ago, Fanny has made a lot of people happy. Her aim is to make people discover the diversity and quality of champagnes produced by independent wine growers in small and family-owned estates… and it works!

Fanny has selected 25 Champagne producers representative of the four different growing regions in Champagne. All of them work in a sustainable, organic or biodynamic way and make quality distinctive wines. Each Champagne producer proposes a selection of bottlings and in total Dilettantes sells about 150 different champagnes. Plus 50 references from the most famous Champagne houses, such as Ruinart, Taittinger,… but only rare bottles that cannot be found in supermarkets. Four huge wine fridges keep cool more than 1000 bottles!

Dilettantes is THE place to discover the diversity of champagnes, to taste them and to learn about them. When you buy a bottle, you get a card with a detailed description of the champagne… and a picture of its producer. And at any time during opening hours one can taste there one or several champagnes out of a selection of three which changes every 2 weeks. Many other tastings, either thematic or hosted by the wine growers themwelves are taking place in the shop… I should say under the shop, in a beautiful cellar from 17th century. Every tasting is the occasion to get explanations and advices and to learn more.

Dilettantes - Paris - The Champagne cellar and tasting room
Dilettantes – Paris – The Champagne cellar and tasting room

What could be better? Beautiful surroundings, high quality champagnes between 20€ and 40€ for any taste and cool at any time, and fascinating explanations given both in French in and English, exclusively by women. It is said that Champagne is the women’s wine…

Canard et Champagne: The most original
Canard et Champagne - Passage des Panoramas - Paris
Canard et Champagne – Passage des Panoramas – Paris

Some wines and food pairing do not come to mind spontaneously. Among them: Duck and Champagne, a wedding of two ‘terroirs’ which are so different. Nevertheless a Parisian restaurant opened two years ago with this speciality, and it works very well! The double name of the place, one very ordinary ‘Canard et Champagne’, and one more subtle ‘French Paradox’ shows well the daring of such a wines and food pairing.

Both tourists and local people seem to be fond of the idea to combine in a same meal two of the jewels of the French gastronomy: the restaurant has a great success and is very busy at lunch time. One is happy to discover the perfect harmony between a well balanced champagne -fresh and fruity in the same time- and a foie gras; and the interesting combination of a rosé champagne -served not too cool- with a duck breast perfectly cooked.

There are 35 references in the Champagne list, with a mix of small wine growers and famous champagne houses; six of them can be ordered by the glass, starting at 8€. And for the less rash there is also a short list of red wines…

I like the decor of the restaurant which also shows a search for a successful harmony. The historic panelling and inlaid work of the place, which used to be a Chocolaterie, have been preserved but modernized by the use of black and white, of light wood and geometric lines in the fitting out of the restaurant room.

Canard et Champagne is located in the beautiful Passage des Panoramas: Do not miss a walk in the Passage either before or after your meal. Thanks to the next shop one will learn that people do not collect only stamps or coins, but also foils of champagne. This kind of collection is called: ‘placomusophilie’. I am afraid that there is no English translation for such a word!

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog

Practical information : Bar Le Dokhan’s 117 rue Lauriston 75116 Every day from 6pm till midnight – Dilettantes 22 rue de Savoie 75006 From Tuesday to Saturday: 11am till 7.30pm (9pm on Thursday) – Canard et Champagne 57 passage des Panoramas 75002 Every day from noon till 3pm and from 7pm till 11pm

La Monnaie de Paris: More than a Museum!

La Monnaie de Paris reopened last autumn after six years of conversion work. The renovation plan led by the French architect Philippe Prost had to take up four challenges: open up the place onto the city and the world; perpetuate its original purpose, striking coins; make its traditional know-how and treasures known; let the public admire the beautiful architecture of an historic building. It is a great success!

Thanks to the magnificent restoration of the premises one cannot visit the Monnaie de Paris today without immersing oneself in the French history, traditions and know-how. And the temporary exhibitions of modern art which are taking place there create the link with the present and give the whole a timeless nature. One leaves the Monnaie de Paris amazed by the French ‘art de vivre’: Not to be missed, whether you are a Parisian or a tourist in Paris!

Firstly the surroundings and the architecture…

Monnaie de Paris - The renovation by Philippe Prost
Monnaie de Paris – The renovation by Philippe Prost

The Palace of the 11 Conti was built in 18th century and has been housing since that time the manufacture or the making of coins and medals. It is a huge and very elegant building with two main entrances. The most majestic is located on 11 Quai de Conti between the Pont-Neuf and the Pont des Arts. It allows to enter the ‘Cour d’Honneur’ with in the end of it the historic heart of the place: the workshop of ‘Grand Monnayage’. The second entrance is on the Rue de Guénégaud next to the new bright souvenir shop -located in former workshops- and to the tea-room Bloom… whose terrace in the lovely ‘Cour de la Méridienne’ is for sure a very pleasant place where to have a drink by fine weather.

Monnaie de Paris-Cour des fonderies
Monnaie de Paris – Cour des fonderies

Inside one discovers several buildings and wanders through several inner yards, each one more charming than the last and with suggestive names: Cour de la Méridienne, Cour des Fonderies, Cour des Remises, Cour de l’Or. When the renovation is completely over, one will also be able to take advantage of an inner garden at the back!

Monnaie de Paris - 11 Conti - The main room
Monnaie de Paris – 11 Conti – The main exhibition room

As far as visits are concerned the Monnaie de Paris offers two different spaces. The first one is permanent: the 11 Conti. It recounts one thousand years of history of the making of coins and emphasizes the fifteen art craft works still taking place there. The exhibition design is very beautiful and educational. The collections are integrated into the workshops themselves, which makes the visit more lively, even if one cannot see the craftmen at work as the working hours are not the same as the opening hours of the museum. But one can imagine…

In the largest exhibition room, which is also the main one, one can experiment in a very educational manner different ways of striking, engraving or reducing coins. I have also appreciated the numerous videos in which each craftman tells his specific work: so lively and informative! One can see Didier the reducer, Stéphane who works in specialized coining…

The following rooms show successively: the creations of the Monnaie de Paris -trophies, medals, rare coins, jewels-; some treasures whose exhibition is set as if one were in the strongroom of a bank; different types of collections; and finally the uses of currency through ages. In any room the explanations are great and translated in English and most of the time also in Spanish.

Women House - Louise Bourgeois - Femme Maison 1994
Women House – Louise Bourgeois – Femme Maison 1994

The second space of the Monnaie de Paris shows temporary exhibitions and is intended to exhibit only modern art. The exhibition taking place at the moment, Women House, is really worth the visit. It tells how the domestic space has been for a long time a prison for women, a space of domination of the female body; but also how it has been turned into a space of creation by female artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. All the works exhibited are from female artists, including the famous Niki de Saint Phalle or Louise Bourgeois. I have also noticed that most of the visitors are women…

The exhibition starts with a striking video of Johanna Demetrakas which is a tribute to the original exhibition ‘Womanhouse’ that took place in Los Angeles in 1972 and launched the movement of women’s emancipation in art. Do not miss it!

Then 17 rooms illustrate 8 themes, from ‘Desperate housewives’ to ‘Woman-House’ through ‘Une chambre à soi’ referring to Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, or ‘Une maison de poupée’ in reference to Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Doll’s house’.

The works, a mix of photographies, videos, paintings, sculptures or wider installations are all exhibited with much care. The colour of the walls varies from one room to the next, from yellow to dark grey. The exhibition lies on two floors. The rooms downstairs are small and without windows: they illustrate perfectly the domestic space as a prison. While the rooms upstairs are much wider and brighter and emphasize more and more the emancipation of women through artistic creation.

Women House - Room 5 - Empreintes
Women House – Room 5 – Empreintes

One can admire the beautiful decoration of some rooms upstairs, their wooden or black and white tiled floors, their period architectural features… without forgetting the amazing views on the Seine from the large windows.

The highlight of the exhibition is the Spider, by Louise Bourgeois, which stands in the middle of the ‘Grand Salon’ of the palace…

… As far as inside is concerned. Indeed the exhibition goes on outside with some other major artworks such as Nana Maison II, by Niki de Saint Phalle, that everybody can admire in the ‘Cour d’honneur’ while entering the museum. But my favourite is The Teapot, by Joana Vasconcelos, in the ‘Cour de la Méridienne’… So amazing at night when the shadow of the sculpture gets drawn on the enlightened ground!

Monnaie de Paris - Cour de la Meridienne - The Teapot - Joana Vasconcelos
Monnaie de Paris – Cour de la Meridienne – The Teapot – Joana Vasconcelos
Monnaie de Paris - Cour de la Meridienne
Monnaie de Paris – Cour de la Meridienne

Women House ends on 28 January 2018. The next modern art exhibition will be a retrospective of Subodh Gupta, a major contemporary Indian artist, and will start on 13 April 2018.

Before ending I must tell for the wealthiest that the Monnaie de Paris is also the place where to find the three-star Parisian Retaurant of the Chef Guy Savoy. Its entrance is located on the opposite side of the ‘Grand Salon’ on top of the ‘Grand Escalier’. You will be welcomed by the motto of the Chef: ‘La cuisine est l’art de transformer instantanément en joie des produits chargés d’histoire’ (Cooking is the art to turn instantaneously into joy produce with a lot of history). An absolutely unique and unforgettable experience… for those who can afford it.

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog

Practical information: Monnaie de Paris – 11 Quai de Conti ou 2 rue de Guénégaud 75006 Paris – Tuesday till Sunday: 11am-7pm (9pm on Thursdays-and Wednesdays from 31 January 2018) – Exhibition Women House: Until 28 January 2018



The Parisian Market of the Month: Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is one of the most unusual markets in Paris… for several reasons. First of all this is the oldest food market in the capital. Its creation dates back to 1628 and it used to be a wooden covered market built with sixteen oak pillars and called ‘Le Marché du Marais du Temple’. At the end of 18th century it became ‘Le Marché des Enfants rouges’ referring to the eponymous orphanage located in the same area and that had just been closed.

In the mid-1990s the market had almost been destroyed and turned into a car park. But the inhabitants of the Marais area and many tourist guides had mobilized to avoid its disappearance. After six years of restoration ‘Le Marché des Enfants Rouges’ reopened in 2000.

The market has kept its originality: Thanks to its numerous stands of cooking and take away food it is still rather a place where to eat than a traditional market where to buy fruit, vegetable, fish or meat as any other Parisian food market. Its atmosphere is very special and friendly; I felt as if I were in a village square, not in a food court. And although there are many tourists it remains very authentic!

Marche des enfants rouges-Rue de Beauce
Marché des Enfants rouges – Entrance Rue de Beauce

All the meals are cooked on the spot and at lunchtime many people -whether local, working or visiting- are queuing in front of each stand. The length of the line may depend on the season, on the time (peak hour between 1 and 1.30pm on weekdays) but of course also on the popularity of each cooking stand… or of the cook himself!

Marche des enfants rouges-Queue at Alain
Marché des Enfants rouges – Queuing for a crêpe at Alain

My favourite: Alain, for his gourmet pancakes… and his eloquence! A generous and tasty pancake stuffed with cooked onions, premium ham -rostello or san daniele- and premium cheese -comté or cantal- costs 9€. Moreover it is a true delight to attend its preparation and listen to the chef while queuing. Alain takes his time and talks a lot. So if the queue is already long and if you are in a hurry, you had better choose another meal!

I can also recommend ‘Le Traiteur Marocain’ held by Ahmed: good food, very efficient service and an impressive choice of couscous and tajines, under 15€. I have been attracted by the spicy scents and the lively atmosphere of this stand, which is very popular among tourists in winter. Not forgetting the Japanese stand, Taeko, which is much appreciated for its efficiency and delicious bentos and is about to reopen after a very short closing for renovation.

And if you do not feel like eating a couscous or a bento, one can also find Creole, Italian or Lebanese home-cooked meals; two stands of burgers, whether organic or not, both cooked on the spot and served with French fries (12€); and one stand of bistronomic French cooking whose menu depends on the season -oysters or capon for instance at this time of year-.

One can also choose the Estaminet des Enfants Rouges, a traditional French bistro with a small dining room and a terrace, which serves good food at reasonable prices.

And if you are in the mood for cooking home you can also buy fruit and vegetable, fish or cheese. But while the cooked meals are all value for money, the fruit and vegetable are really expensive… especially the organic ones sold by the greengrocer ‘Chez Wagner’ : they look very beautiful and appetizing but cost much more than in any other Parisian food market. One is in the heart of the Haut Marais, a trendy Boho chic area!

If you leave the market through the main entrance on the rue de Bretagne do not miss the little shop of photographies: Collected. They have a wide choice of beautiful ancient photographies, B&W views of Paris or portraits of Parisians, pictures of actors or taken during movie shootings, … Most of them are from unknown photographers and not too expensive. The ones which are signed or framed cost more. And even if you do not buy anything the shop itself is worth visiting. A pleasant way to end a tour at the Marché des Enfants Rouges.

Marche des enfants rouges - Photographies Shop
Marche des enfants rouges – Photographies Shop

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog

Practical information: Marché des Enfants Rouges – 39 rue de Bretagne 75003 Paris – Tuesday till Saturday: 8.30am-8.30pm (9.30pm on Thursday) – Sunday: 8.30am-5pm – Closed on Monday