What is it about France that makes me feel like it’s OK to drink an entire bottle of wine at midday? I guess it’s the fact that there are so many places that make it easy—almost impossible not—to do just that.
My hands-down favorite spot in Paris for a boozy Sunday lunch is Le Verre Volé, the quintessential Parisian wine bar and living proof that simplicity is the secret to happiness—and deliciousness. There’s nothing better than a leisurely lunch of shared small plates and an interesting bottle of wine, followed by a drunken amble along the Canal St. Martin (I have yet to fall in!), most likely followed by a nap. Afternoons like this make me wonder, “Does life get any better than this?” and I always come to the same conclusion: nope.
Le Verre Volé is no secret, but its sheltered location (just off the canal in the 10th) ensures that it’s far enough from the tourist trail to avoid being overrun. In addition, the chalkboard menu is in French—though the servers are affable and happy to interpret for English-speaking clients. The Verre Volé is part of a recent culinary trend in Paris: the wine shop – restaurant hybrid. The walls of the tiny space (it seats only about 18 people at a time) are adorned with diverse bottles from the far-flung corners of France. You can buy one to take home, or you can buy one to go with lunch or dinner (in which case, you pay a 7€ corkage fee). You can also get wines by the glass.
The wines are carefully selected from France’s major regions and from small producers in villages you’ve probably never heard of. The variety and creativity that has gone into the selection is refreshing, but even more refreshing are the prices. Bottles start at around 6€ and increase from there. Servers are happy to guide you towards great value. A friend and I once splurged on a 25€ bottle of St. Joseph and spent the rest of the day in a state of syrah-induced rapture.
But there’s more to this place than good wine. The food is seasonal, simple, creative, and just what I want every time I go. You can choose from a variety of small plates (between 5-8€) or main dishes (between 12-14€) and sharing is encouraged. How liberating to break free of the traditional 3-course meal structure!
I usually end up ordering the “petit creux” of hand-selected cheeses from various regions of France. Over the course of a few visits, other highlights have been an heirloom tomato salad, baby clams in a lemon vinaigrette, a subtle but balanced salmon tartare, a silky veal carpaccio, and a perfectly cooked jambonneau (I didn’t find out until later that jambonneau means pig knuckle…). After indulging in such creative fare, you’ll be shocked to know that the kitchen consists of a refrigerator and a hot plate. There is literally no actual “cooking,” just a skilled use of fresh, seasonal products and the creative combination of flavors and textures on the plate.
And finally, Le Verre Volé is terminally hip without being over-hip. It’s casual and friendly, but when you’re here, you know you’re in the right place at the right moment. This is one spot that manages to strike a perfect balance between creative cuisine, exceptional wines, hip but cozy atmosphere, and more-than-reasonable prices. I can’t wait to go back… is it noon yet?
Le Verre Volé
67, rue de Lancry, 75010
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent
To check out what food blogger David Lebovitz has to say about Le Verre Volé, click here.