Does it surprise you to know that in the very centre of Paris is a vineyard?
Well, there is and it is a very special vineyard indeed. An authentic secret garden in the heart of the City of Light. Rows and rows of grapes growing on a patch of land at the corner of rue des Saules and rue Saint Vincent – these vines are Montmartre’s pride.
A vineyard in the heart of Paris
It was the Romans who first introduced vines to Paris, the lush green vineyards stretched for miles right up to the slopes of the Butte Montmartre – at 130m high it is Paris’s tallest hill and a district of northern Paris. The area is famous for its cafes, boutiques, art galleries and studios, nightlife, and the Moulin Rouge.
The vineyards were re-created in 1933 by the city of Paris on what had become wasteland and they are managed by the Paris Parks Commission.
Each year, one of the city’s biggest events the Fête des Vendanges is held here in October after the grapes are pressed in the basement of the 18th arrondissement’s Town Hall. There are enough grapes for the production of about 1,000 or so bottles. The wine is known as Clos Montmartre and it is auctioned off – it’s expensive but all the proceeds go to charity.
We spoke to vintner Ghislain Pagè, who hails from a long line of winemakers and was himself raised in a winery. Ghislain runs Oenodyssée, a Paris based enterprise which offers English language wine and champagne workshops, tastings, wine tours and everything from an introduction to wine to advanced wine knowledge session for groups.
Ghislain is passionate about his Parisian wine enterprise “The Ile-de-France is a region of wine! It was even the first wine producing region in France during the Middle Ages – until the arrival of phylloxera in the late 19th Century. At its peak, Paris was home to nearly 42,000 acres of vineyards.“ He runs a wine tour in Montmartre called “The Oenological pedestria Rallye”. The idea is to discover the area, rediscover the past and participate in wine workshops – wine tasting, barrel making and aromas recognition.
Vineyard in the suburbs of Paris
Ghislain often holds workshops in another Paris vineyard – in Suresnes, a western suburb. This is the last authentic real working vineyard in Paris and it produces around 6000 bottles per annum. From its leafy rows you can clearly see the Eiffel Tower in the City though Suresnes itself is in the suburbs.
You’ll also find grape vines in the Park of Bercy. Once home to huge wine warehouses and a whole industry devoted to the production and marketing of wine from before the French Revolution until the 1960s. The Bercy depots in the 12th arrondissement covered an area of about 42 hectares and were restructured in the late 20th century to form residential and commercial streets. In the Bercy Park though, you’ll find grape vines which produce around 300 bottles per annum.
In fact around 10 Paris vineyards still exist so, when you’re wandering round a park in the city and you think you might have seen grapes growing and everyone said you couldn’t have – you probably did!
The wine of Paris the annual festival of Montmartre when the wine is harvested and auctioned…
Wine tasting in France
Paris to Rheims for a Champagne tasting day trip
More information on the vineyard of Montmartre from the Syndicat de Montmartre who run group tours of the vines (English and French)