What happens when two fine arts graduates of the prestigious École du Louvre team up with a French wine expert? A cadre made in French heaven: a wine shop art gallery hybrid for enthusiasts who like their Sancerre with a side of up-and-coming art. Ici-même + Gallerie Graphem, located steps away from the manicured gardens of the Promenade Plantée, finds itself a home in this bohème corner of the 12th arrondissement.
Art directors Fabienne Lafaye and Claire Aimonier-Davat, who started their careers in fine art galleries throughout Paris, conceptualized the adjoining Gallerie Graphem. Through their experience in the art world, they have been able to cultivate relationships with artists from all over Europe who have been invited to display their work at exhibitions booked through 2015. During their residency, artists are invited to bond the two spaces with a light sketch trailing from the gallery into the wine shop.
Bertrand Deniau, who gained his experience working in vineyards in France and Turkey, has carefully curated the selection of both organic and sulfite-free natural wines, along with personal favorites he has discovered over his decade-long devotion. He looks for wines that are not just pleasing to the senses, but those that are also interesting and fun, with labels that evoke conversation.
The décor pairs pastoral wood tones with vintage touches; a 1960s typewriter sits quietly under a small selection of artisan to-go cocktail snacks; a hand-crafted birdcage overlooks the stately hunter green leather Draper-style seating nook for four that is placed discreetly in the back.
Open only a month, Ici-même has already gained the affection and support of the neighborhood. During the day, longtime denizens of the arrondissement pop in to chat with the owners and to pick up a bottle of wine, and by night, with the current exhibition glowing onto the sidewalk, passersby are invited for a planche, a glass of wine, and perhaps small talk with the owners or one of the neighbors.
As with many cavistes throughout the city, the lease restricts Ici-même to officially be called a wine bar, and while guests are invited to settle in with a glass of wine, it must be paired with something to nibble on.
In typical Paris convention, promising new spots tend to boast haute pricing and cool service that can seem exclusive to the Fashion Week crowd, discouraging culture zealots looking for something fresh without the ballyhoo of “the next big thing.” The welcoming atmosphere combined with glasses of wine starting at 3€ and generous assiettes of cured meats and local cheeses starting at 5€ make Ici-même the next new spot of this area well worth the fuss. Just ask a local.
Ici-même – 68 rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 40 00 99
- Don’t miss sampling the wines at La Buvette de Camille, another of our favorite natural wine bars in Paris.
- Explore the nearby Promenade Plantée on this stroll through the 12th arrondissement.
- For even more wine, take a peek at Paris By Mouth’s extensive guide to Paris wine shops.