How have I got to the grand old age of 53 and not visited Paris properly? Previously I had only ever travelled through and across it, asleep in the back of a car or switching trains at night to travel onward to the south.
It was an offer email that came through from Eurostar that made me contemplate, I took a look, and as is often the case the ‘headline’ offer was not quite as sharp, when you realised you had to travel at 5.30am in the morning for the price! Anyway, interest sparked, I continued and decided to take my wife Lynne for a short break. Just 2 hours 20 minutes after leaving London St.Pancreas, we’re stepping out at Gard du Nord in the centre of Paris.
So to make things clear ‘Ma Cave Fleury’ is a cosy biodynamic Champagne and wine bar run by Morgane Fleury (daughter of Jean Pierre Fleury of ‘Fleury Champagne’ fame!). As with many bars in Paris, there’s now a real emphasis on natural and organic wines, it’s become quite a movement, kind of a wine revolution which has injected new energy and enthusiasm into the vinous scene. I kept coming across bottles and recognising labels from producers that I’d seen, met and whose wines I’d tasted over the years. Flavours and faces (not always in that order!) came flooding back.
I pass a few wine shops that are decidedly different looking, to the one’s we more commonly find here. Some are tiny, almost lift sized rooms with maybe just 50 wines lining the shelves and a small group of (I assume) wine enthusiasts, sipping from glasses, talking intently. It almost looks like a seminar, and even for someone ‘in the business’ like myself, the thought of entering is a little intimidating!
A stray point, but there should be a name or term for a ‘small group of wine enthusiasts’ surely? Anyone know of one?
Thankfully ‘Ma Cave Fleury’ is quite the opposite, it’s open, friendly and welcoming (as indeed, must say were most places we visited) and helpful (English speaking too, can be handy). It’s at 177 Rue Saint Denis, one of the capital’s oldest streets, and close to the vibrant red light district. This oasis, offers the Fleury Champagne range by the bottle and glass, at very reasonable prices, along with a range of other selected biodynamic French wines. Morgane also dishes up platters of delicious organic cheese, salamis and artisan bread to nibble on, whilst enjoying the wines.
On the Friday evening we visited, Morgane was busy running the bar by herself, having only just returned from the family vineyard and an intense 10 day harvest, where everyone including the two brothers, father, mother, other friends and a small band of regular ‘pickers’ had gathered in the precious grapes. Despite the previous evenings all night ‘end of harvest’ party, she is bright and bubbly (well she would be!), welcoming in customers, pouring glasses and opening bottles. In a rare quiet moment, she still found time to lead us down the back stairs, showing us the original 15th century cellar beneath, and her wine store.
Later we meet two young Polish women in the bar, who had also worked the Fleury harvest and were spending a couple of days in Paris before returning home. They tell us they have been returning each year to pick grapes at Fleury as they just love it! The people, the good atmosphere, the big party and even though it is really hard work, they describe it as ‘a holiday’ and ‘life enhancing’ with great connection to friends, place and the earth.
Kind of what it’s all about, and what a lot of us have lost touch with. Last time I picked a vintage was 1983 in Bourgueil and it must still rank as one of the best experiences. Thankfully we found simply being at ‘Ma Cave Fleury’ made you feel ‘connected’ a little more, and that all can be well with the world.
Ma Cave Fleury – less than 30 minute walk from Gard du Nord.
You can find at 177 Rue Saint Denis, 75002 Paris
Well worth a visit if you find yourself in Paris, or why not plan a trip? Ask for Morgane, you could be harvesting the next vintage!