Last week I went to Paris on a work trip. There wasn’t much time for drinking, but I managed to make it to a couple of pleasant enough bars.
I realised when planning my trip that Paris wasn’t really a beer city. I know the French are renowned for their wine, but so are the Italians and you can still find some great craft beer when visiting Rome, so surely it would be the same in Paris – wouldn’t it..? There are a few Belgian beer bars such as Le Carolus on Boulevard de Clichy, Falstaff on Rue du Montparnasse and Au Trappiste on Rue St Denis, which is great. But I was particularly looking for French craft beer.
I came across Brewberry on Rue du Pot de Fer, just off Rue Mouffetard, one of the oldest thoroughfares in Paris in one of its oldest areas in the 5th arrondissement. This little bar doesn’t sell French craft beers on tap, but there are some French bottles (La Chope, Fleurac), as well as Belgian (La Chouffe, Orval), US (Flying Dog, Rogue), UK (London Pride, Newcastle Brown – why?!), and other world beers (Mikkeller, Nogne) – in fact, more world beers than French beers to be honest. It’s cute and cosy with beer bottles lining the walls inside and a few tables on the pavement outside. It’s just a shame there were no craft beers on draft.
I sat outside La Contrescarpe on Place de la Contrescarpe, a short stroll from Brewberry, and ordered a Picon beer. This is basically beer mixed with an 18% orange Amer Picon aperitif/liqueur, and is mainly drunk in the north and east of France. I have no idea which beer they mixed this liqueur with (traditionally a wheat or blonde), but it came out a dark bitter colour which was different to what I was expecting. It had a spicy, caramel orange flavour, and although I enjoyed it initially, the sickly taste soon started to annoy me and I didn’t want to finish it particularly. And I think it was pretty strong. It cost €6 for a small glass. A very nice spot to sit and watch the world go by though.
Another bar I came across was Chez Prune, on Canal St Martin, which is now a trendy bourgeois bohemian area, or ‘bobo’, as the French call it. This bar next to the canal was buzzing with hip young things and its lively atmosphere made it an attractive place to be. I managed to grab a table outside by the canal and drank a Fischer lager, not a very exciting beer, but hey, this was to be expected. And anyway, this bar was all about the location. The interior was pretty cool too, with its retro wooden design, yellow walls and platinum bar. I would go back, but would choose a different tipple.
So that was all I had time for. Next time I will just go straight to Brewberry and probably back to the Mayflower on Rue Descartes close to Rue Mouffetard, a cool pub I visited previously which sells Delirium Tremens and many other Belgian beers. Or possibly even the Bombardier pub on Place du Panthéon if I find I can’t do without my English ales. Hopefully French craft beers will become more widespread in Paris in the near future – they do exist. But I won’t hold my breath…