One of my favorite memories of Café de la Nouvelle Mairie in the 5th arrondissement is from Beaujolais Nouveau night in 2014. Tucked away on a quiet street just behind the Pantheon, Café de la Nouvelle Mairie only claims a small sidewalk terrasse as its outdoor space, yet when things get lively – and many an evening they do – wine drinkers and bons vivants spill out into the street and onto the small, tree-lined island that separates the occasional two-way traffic.
Traditional bistrot fare paired with an extensive list of natural wines make the Café de la Nouvelle Mairie a recommended addition to your Paris itinerary any night, but for Beaujolais Nouveau I can’t think of anywhere else in the city I’d rather go. The annual event, which is held on the third Thursday of November, celebrates the first wine that is bottled from that year’s grape harvest. The young wines are enjoyed as an extended celebration of the harvest season and all the wine to come.
An institution in Paris’ natural wine world, Café de la Nouvelle Mairie attracts winemakers from the Beaujolais region showcasing their newest vintages alongside live music. Karim Vionnet was the featured winemaker last year, and was welcomed by a cheery crowd of revellers.
If you can’t make it to Café de la Nouvelle Mairie for a dinner reservation (which I recommend you make a day or so in advance), stop by during the day. The lunch menu (13-19eur) is the best you’ll find in the neighborhood and even offers vegetarian options, as opposed to the dinner menu (20-30eur) which tends to be meat heavy. After the generally respected lunch hour – which maxes out at around 2:30pm in Paris – the restaurant offers a service continu menu, which is a great option for those who haven’t adopted the French eating schedule or anyone wanting to enjoy a late afternoon snack. The standard plates of cheese or charcuterie are a good bet and the oeufs mayonnaise, or deviled eggs, are the best I’ve had in the city.
An extensive wine list makes itself available and features a vast choice of wines by the glass or carafe, allowing you to be in fine form upon return to work after lunch or sample a few different varietals, depending on your mood.
The friendly, knowledgeable servers at Café de la Nouvelle Mairie make your time à table enjoyable and enriching if you’re interested in knowing more about the origins of their quality wines and ingredients. The combination of Parisian charm– with its zinc bar, tiled floor, and bright splashes of red found in the upholstered bench seating and old school wall molding – and diverse diners – the restaurant counts as its neighbors both a large university and the local town hall, as well as those drawn to the area for a stroll through Luxembourg Gardens– make the restaurant a true gem. Unlike other Paris bistrots who are all style and no substance, not only does the setting of Café de la Nouvelle Mairie draw you in, but you actually enjoy eating (and drinking) there too. It’s no wonder that this is where the city goes to celebrate another year of good food and wine to come.
Café de la Nouvelle Mairie – 19 rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, 75005.
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 07 04 41. Open Monday-Friday 8am-12am.
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine (line 10) or Place Monge (line 7).
- For even more natural wine options, check out our list of Paris’ best natural wine bars and shops.
- Love classic French bistrots? Check out Le Bon Saint Pourçain south of the river and À La Française to the north.
- To learn more about the Beaujolais Nouveau wine itself and why there’s such a fuss over the third Thursday in November, check out this article from The Telegraph.