Champagne is the “drink of kings,” a reputation it gained during the centuries when French kings were crowned in Reims, the capital city of Champagne province. The festive bubbly was served for the coronation ceremonies. One could easily assume, then, that since Paris is a mere 45-minute train ride from Reims, that there would be champagne bars on every street corner. Not quite. We tasked ourselves exploring Paris’ winding roads in search of the best places to enjoy a flute, whether during fashion week or New Years or a Tuesday. Here’s what we came up with.
The Newest Bar 8 (pictured top) at the Mandarin Oriental is sleek, elegant and inviting. A 9 ton, taupe-colored whole piece of Spanish marble is the first piece that greets you as you enter the bar. The leather bar stools that look out onto the enchanting garden offer a perfect perch from which to study the 70-plus bottles of champagne on the menu. David Biraud, who is known as one of France’s best sommeliers, crafted not just an exquisite by-the-bottle champagne menu, but an impressive by-the-glass menu to go along with it. If you are feeling especially light, a flute of Inflorescence by Cedric Bouchard, a blanc de noirs, will have you feeling like you’re drinking a champagne cloud. There’s also Dom Perignon 2002 for the traditionalists with good taste. And try the J’Aime Paris, a champagne cocktail made with a splash of St. Germain liqueur.
For Connoisseurs Only Le Dokhan’s is what several friends who are brand ambassadors for champagne houses recommended. Le Dokhan’s and its head sommelier Mikaël Rodriguez have such a loyal following that he’s credited with not just educating champagne enthusiasts, but also igniting the passion of a growing crowd of young champagne devotees. In addition to the 70 or so bottles of champagne, many from smaller producers, you will also find a dignified selection by the glass. And if the occasion merits, you can order a Magnum such as Henriot’s Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 1990, for 950 Euros. Once a week, Dokhan’s has a special selection for their 3 Champagne Tasting, where they offer a Brut, a Rose’ and a Millesime (Vintage). These are selected by Rodriguez, who is pleased to teach you about the five different champagne glasses you can choose from. A jazz band plays once a month.
The Sexiest Just across the river from the Eiffel Tower is the Hotel Sezz champagne bar, La Grande Dame. Yes, this is the same Sezz as the legendary St. Tropez outpost, and for his Paris property, owner Shahé Kalaidjian has sexed things up a bit. Veuve Clicquot is the exclusive reigning diva at this bar. And the bar is named after their top Cuvée, La Grande Dame. (It’s also the Parisian nickname for the Eiffel Tower.) The hotel is a favorite among Parisians celebrating a romantic weekend or an amorous tête-á-tête, and the discreet “zen” bar and its Christophe Pillet decor cocoons you in noir and hot pink, while offering a generous menu of 10 different champagne cocktails, like the mojito champagne cocktail. Small bites include sushi and salmon skewers.
The Most Authentic This must be the oldest champagne bar in Paris. Although it might not be altogether accurate to call it a champagne bar, the Paris Museum of Wine’s 14th century walls were once used as cellars by the Abby that stood above it when the area, Passy, was covered in vineyards. In the mid-1900s, it was used as the cellars for the Eiffel Tower. The Museum offers tastings and even lunch, regardless of whether you decide to take the tour or not. The Musée du Vin offers the opportunity to taste 5 rotating champagnes, but when you buy a bottle from their museum store—to drink there or on the Champ de Mars, naturally—they will throw in a complimentary guided tour of the museum, which includes one exhibit devoted entirely to la méthode Champenoise. October 15th is their next scheduled champagne tasting, but you can always request one specifically for yourself or a small group by calling or emailing ahead.
The Ritziest The Ritz Bar in the Ritz Hotel has a sincere following of young and trendy Parisians. Its versatility is astounding, as it can flip to the Ritz Bar Terrasse, weather permitting, which has a collection of chic and comfortable outdoor lounge chairs that overlook the grassy enclave of the interior courtyard of this legendary hotel. Or, when the weather gets nippy, the bar is indoors, with red interiors and plush upholstered coziness. When you’ve made this kind of mark on the world of luxury, there’s really no other option but to have your own champagne label. So the Ritz Bar serves Ritz Brut and Ritz Brut Rose, and their Millisime’ and Tête de Cuvée. And dince the terrasse is a lovely setting to spend a whole evening with your significant other, nibbling on fresh strawberries, they do offer Cristal (995 Euro), Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque (500 Euro) and Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé (600 Euro) by the bottle. They are probably most famous, however, for their champagne cocktails which include the Ms. Bond, a brut champagne served with raspberry essence and a perfect red raspberry garnish, and world-renowned head barman Colin Field’s other concoction, Le Serendipiti: Mint, Calvados, apple juice, champagne.
The Clubbiest Before a night at the clubs, young (and famous) Paris heads to Le Bar at the Plaza Athénée on Avenue Montaigne. Its trademark blue lighting turns fire-red at 10pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The resident DJ, Adrien Villanova, starts jamming with his entourage between 11 and 11:30. Here, you can get glasses of Ducasse signature champagne (made by Lanson Champagne), Roederer Brut, or Bollinger Rosé, and you can chase all those down with head barman Thierry Hernandez’s Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, and Kahlua jelly shots, served like pieces of candy on ice. Bottles include the Lanson Noble Cuvée 1998 and Laurent Perrier. Big spenders can opt for their special My Private Boat excursion, which will have you sipping champagne on the Seine while cruising in the Plaza’s signature mahogany and chrome craft. (1,100 Euro for 2 hours, available to Hotel Guests.) Le Bar du Plaza Athénée is party central during Paris Fashion Week, and it’s also the main watering hole on Vogue’s Fashion Night Out.