Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Bostonian's Beer Guide to Paris

Before I left for my trip to Paris a couple weeks ago, I made a map of Paris beer bars that I was going to try and get to. While I didn't make it to all of them, I think we did a pretty good job considering we were only there for 2 nights. If you are going to Paris and want to venture into their local beer scene, here is a mini-guide that hopefully give you some good info.

La Cave à Bulles

One of the places that I really wanted to go in Paris was this beer store because of it's focus on French craft beer. I kid you not, this was the first place we went after dropping bags off at our hotel. A few blocks north of Notre Dame, off of Boulevard de Sebastopol, this beautiful little store sits down a side alley, tucked away from the more crowded streets. Upon entry, its evident the beers are well organized, making it simple for even the non-French speaking customers such as myself to navigate through the selection of bottles.

We were greeted by who I believe is the owner, Simon, asking if we needed any help. I told him how I heard about the store on a beer website, to which he replied, "BeerAdvocate?" Well aware of his popularity among American beer geeks, he was extremely nice and helped me pick out a selection of French craft beers that may suit my tastes. The prices were relatively cheap, especially when compared to going around bars in Paris. I drank some of the beer in the hotel, and brought a few back to the States.

French Craft Beer

I don't know why, but this was one of the coolest beer stores I have ever been in. Maybe it was because I was in a completely different country where I barely spoke the language, but the love for great beer was still apparent.

Au Trappiste

By time we had left La Cave à Bulles we got a bit hungry, and I knew that Au Trappiste was in the general area. After a healthy bit of exploring through the busy streets, we found Au Trappiste on the lower part of Saint Denis. The brasserie isn't located on the part which is mainly pedestrian walking, it actually sits on the drivable part of Saint Denis.

There is a fair amount of seating outside at Au Trappiste, however it was pretty busy when we went, so we had to find a table inside. We were greeted by a friendly waiter who took us to a table right by the bar on the first floor.

Au Trappiste

Au Trappiste offers up a pretty solid selection of Belgian and French beers, as well as the usual French fare. We had a great cheese plate, and for beer we went with a 750ml of La Choulette Blonde, which was served with the appropriate branded glassware...always a nice touch.

In all, Au Trappiste is a place to enjoy local craft beers in a busy part of Paris.

Falstaff Bastille

I came across two different Falstaff brasseries in Paris, but the one we ventured to was in Bastille. We walked from Notre Dame, north to Rue de Rivoli, and down Saint Antoine until we got to the traffic circle where the Basille station is. On our walk there, it became apparent that we were definitely venturing into a more residential area with less tourists, which seemed to translate into more French speaking only places. But this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as it kind of added to the experience.

Falstaff Bastille has a larger outdoor seating area than Au Trappiste, and appeared to have a larger beer selection as well. While there we had a few Belgians, including some krieks and gueuze.

Falstaff Bastille Gueuze

The atmosphere was pretty cool, and there was plenty to watch between the street performers, large traffic circle and people bustling from the train station. While I wouldn't make this a must stop beer bar because of its location, it is nice to get away from the more tourist central locations. However when we left, the walk we took down Boulevard Henri IV towards Ile Saint Louis was nice, especially once we reached the island.

Ile Saint Louis View

Frog and Princess

The Frog bars had been recommended to me by a couple of friends, particularly the Frog and Princess. Seeing as it was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel, we decided to check it out the first night we were there. After a late dinner, we walked in around midnight to a pretty low key, but fun setting. The great thing about the Frog bars is that they are a chain of brewpubs; the menu below shows what their own selection of beers was.

Frog and Princess Beers

However, when we went back to the Frog and Princess the next night (Thursday) it was a completely different scene. Think Faneuil Hall on a Friday night. Now substitute college kids from Boston with college kids from Paris. While it was a great place on Wednesday, I would think about what kind of scene you are looking for before jumping at the Frog and Princess.

While I wasn't able to hit all the places I had laid out on the Paris beer map, I definitely got a good taste of the beer scene in Paris. The only place that I was unable to get to that I wanted to was Académie De La Bière, but was just a little too far away to be convenient.

I hope this mini-guide comes in helpful for any beer lovers traveling to Paris.

1 comment:

Paris Hotels said...

I really like the FrogPubs, Did you drink the Inseine? well, after a few "tasses" and some "Parislytics" you really have to know where is your hotel. Good thing i got a hotel nearby through the web, i fall on the sidewalk just twice :)