Last updated on September 8th, 2017
Name any French wine producing region!
Bordeaux, Bourgogne (Burgundy), Paris, Loire… Hold on, PARIS? C’est impossible!
The Romans can be thanked for introducing the Barbarians to the intoxicating pleasures of wine. For a long time after the fall of Rome, Paris and its banlieues (suburbs) continued to supply wine to the local taverns and even the royal court. Faced with urbanization, grape phylloxera and perhaps the easier availability of southern wines, production in the Paris region started to decline in the 19th century, and most Paris vineyards disappeared in the 20th century.
But today, grape vines have made their come-back in Paris! Paris no longer produces commercial wine (nor any Grands Crus!), but our wine heritage is being revived in mini vineyards around the city, usually thanks to the efforts of local city councils and citizen groups.
The vineyards of Paris are open only on certain days such as the Fête des Jardins in September (Paris garden festival) and the Fête des Vendanges (Grape picking festival) in October, but can be seen everyday over the fence for an imaginary bucolic and bacchanalian trip! Visit Paris in the early autumn and take part in the Fêtes des Vendanges.
1. Montmartre and the Clos Montmartre (18th arrondissement)
The vineyards on the Butte Montmartre (Montmartre Hill) disappeared in the 18th century. In 1932, the Paris city council decided to replant some vines, making the Clos Montmartre the oldest vineyard in Paris.
The Fête des Vendanges in Montmartre is also the oldest (the first festival was held in 1934!) and my favourite Grape Picking festival in Paris. This is when Montmartrois (the local inhabitants) and non-natives (such as other Parisians like the Gnarfgnarf Paris team) get together for a colourful carnival and many indoor and outdoor activities. The Clos Montmartre wine is auctioned off to raise money for local charities. Who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones to taste it! If not, there is plenty of fun, food and wine to keep everyone happy. Check out the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre website close to the festival date in September / October for the current year’s programme.
To visit : head to rue des Saules and rue Saint-Vincent, close to the Sacré Coeur Basilica. For more Montmartre activities, have a look at our Paris top 5 romantic spots blog post!
2. Parc Georges Brassens and the Clos des Morillons (15th arrondissement)
The Périchot vineyards used to grow here until fruit and vegetables took over in the 19th century. In the late 19th century, the space went from vegetarian to carnivorous and became a slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse was destroyed in 1974, and the Parc Georges Brassens was created. Many elements evoke the garden’s history : the belfry where the meat market once stood, a slaughterhouse hall (where a weekly book market now takes place), two sculptures of bulls, and … a vineyard!
The Fête des Vendanges takes place every year in October, at the same time as the Fête du Miel (Honey Festival). It is not as busy as the Montmartre Fête des Vendanges, but nevertheless lots of fun, with shows, free wine and food tasting, as well as wine, honey (honey is collected from the park’s bee hives) and garden related activities for kids and adults. The 15th arrondissement’s website provides more information on the next Fête du Miel et des Vendanges.
The parc Georges Brassens also has a small and pleasant Jardin des senteurs (Scents gardens), designed for the visually impaired, a large playground and open green spaces. To visit : head to Place Jacques Marette, rue des Morillons, rue des Périchaux, rue Brancion.
3. Parc de Bercy (12th arrondissement)
Historically, the Parc de Bercy was not a vineyard, but a huge wine warehouse. Wine, mainly from Burgundy, was shipped along the Seine, and unloaded in Bercy. In the 1970s, the wine warehouses were slowly abandoned, and the whole area underwent urban regeneration.
The Parc de Bercy incorporates many historical structures. A couple of houses (the guard house and the tax collector’s house) were conserved, the winery buildings were converted into a shopping / eating area, and the grid layout as well as many of the rails and cobbled paths used to unload wine barrels were integrated into the garden’s design. A vineyard was also added.
The Parc de Bercy is located between the Bercy indoor stadium and Bercy Village shopping centre built in the former chai (winery buildings). Entrances on rue de Bercy, rue Paul Belmondo, rue de Pommard, rue François Truffaut, rue Joseph Kessel, and from the Seine on Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, a pedestrian bridge over the Seine.
4. Parc de Belleville (10th arrondissement)
Vineyards and wine production on the Belleville plateau can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. In the 19th century, vineyards gave way to gypsum quarries. When the quarries were abandoned in the 20th century, the area slowly declined until its redevelopment in the 1980s. In the late 80s the Parc de Belleville opened, and a vineyard was planted in memory of the area’s wine heritage. In the Parc de Belleville, walk up (or down) the pergola and flower covered staircase for a fantastic panorama over Paris.
To visit : head to rue des Couronnes, rue Piat, rue du Transvaal, rue de Pâli-Kao, rue Vilin.
Special mention goes to the minuscule vineyard planted in the Jardin du Ruisseau’s community garden (18th arrondissement), located on rue du Ruisseau, close to Porte de Clignancourt, along a section of the former Petite Ceinture railway, a train line that used to circle Paris. Who knows when the next cuvée (wine production) is expected?
5. Vineyards around Paris
Falling in love with Paris wines? There also are replanted historic vineyards in the suburbs. Here are a few that are fairly easy to reach : Head to Bagneux (Clos des Brugnauts), Suresnes (Clos du Pas Saint-Maurice, the only Paris region wine that is commercially produced), le parc du Sausset close to Villepinte, Rosny-sous-bois (Vignes de la Feronne Haute)… There even is a small vineyard (Clos de Chantecoq) on the Esplanade de la Défense (la Défense Esplanade) at the foot of the tall office towers just outside Paris.
For information on activities in these vineyards and more on other Paris region wines and vineyards, check out Vignerons Franciliens Réunis’ website (Paris Region Winegrowers).
More about (non-Paris!) French wines and the foods that come along with them? Check out our Paris food pages! A votre santé!