Le Rubis: Paris Wine Bar

It’s perhaps not much of a secret anymore that some of the best places to eat in Paris are the wine bars. Unlike some of the ‘wine bars’ in the US (where that glass of oaky California Chardonnay will run you $14…not including tax and tip), Paris’ wine bars are gathering places, where people might stop in the morning after the market for a friendly chat with the counter person or in the afternoon for quick glass of red to get you through the rest of your day…not that I ever do that…

After work, the wines bars in Paris hum as people leave their jobs, and you’ll see businessmen in dapper suits (and the aforementioned cartoon-emblazoned socks) as well as sales clerks from the local shops propped up against le bar zinc, cigarette in hand, sipping a glass of red wine while thinking whatever it is they’re thinking as they focus their gazes somewhere off into space. It’s a skill I’ve yet to master.


One of my favorite wine bars in Paris is Le Rubis. Located just off the fancy-schmancy rue Saint-Honoré, Le Rubis occupies a little corner of this quartier, better known for handbags, jewelery shops, and all the other necessities of life for les bourgeoisie.

I like to go at lunchtime, especially in the cold winter months, where the friendly owners will squeeze you into a seat at one of the tiny tables covered with crisp white paper, a folded napkin, some utilitarian silverware, and an overturned wine glass, ready to be filled. After lunch of later in the afternoon, Parisians gather outside by the wine barrels covered with red-checkered cloth, drinking, smoking, and talking on their mobile phones, while absent mindedly polishing off a couple of glasses of Brouilly or Beaujolais.

Most of the wine bars in Paris that serve food keep it authentic and simple: peek into the kitchen at any of them and you’ll find most are the size of a phone booth. It’s all charming and convivial, reminding me of the old diners that have mostly disappeared in America (except the bottomless cup of bad coffee’s been replaced by red wine…and people still ask me why I live in France!)

Lunch can be anything from petit salé, braised salt pork on a bed of nutty green French lentils, or a rich wedge of tarte au legumes, a quiche-like slab of eggy-custard, baked with vegetables and diced smoked bacon, served with a mustardy green salad.

Of course, though, the wine is important here. But not so important that it draws wine snobs. Thankfully all he pretention from the neighborhood is left outside the door. I like to come in the afternoon when the place is empty. I sit with friends, or by myself, sipping a glass of fruity Chinon accompanied by a plate of their outstanding charcuterie, served on dark-crusted slices of pain Poilâne, from the nearby bakery of Max Poilâne. Country hams, fat-rich rillettes, and slices of dry sausage are always a treat, and a welcome accompaniment to the wine.
By the time I’m ready to leave, the table’s covered with bread crumbs, the paper table covering is stained with red rings from the bottom of the wine glass, and I’m feeling much better, no matter where I’m going afterwards.

Usually it’s straight home for une sieste, another jour perdu

(UPDATE: Read more details about Les Rubis.)

Le Rubis
10, rue Marché St. Honoré
Tel: 01 42 61 03 34
(Full-meals served only at lunch)

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  • January 26, 2006 7:21pm

    What a picture you’ve painted David. You’ve put a full stop to my rather bleak, chilly, gray day here in NYC & set me to Paris dreaming…THANKS

  • Judith in Umbria
    January 27, 2006 4:38am

    Not lost, but spent. I shouldn’t like a life that was all big experiences. Last I was in Paris, one of my best times was sitting in a leather armchair in a glassy bar drinking, thinking and watching Paris go by.

  • January 27, 2006 10:35am

    Oi, Cheeky!
    Us Brits don’t bother with anyone who isn’t cheeky, so really it is the highest compliment that can be bestowed. We love cheeky, wear your cheekiness with pride!!!

  • January 27, 2006 12:15pm

    David, next time you’re in the US you should come out to Brooklyn – I promise your faith in American wine bars will be restored.

  • Dana
    January 27, 2006 12:39pm

    A Movable Feast is alive and well, thank you!

  • January 28, 2006 8:11am

    Congrats on your recent blog award and thanks for the wine bar tip! I’ve been wondering why wine bars haven’t taken off here (in Paris) the way they have in SF. Have you tried the Verre Volé in the 10th? It’s amazing and they have vin biologique…check it out if you get the chance.

    Amy (Ms. Glaze)

  • January 29, 2006 3:09pm

    Oh man. Why do you have to hurt me like this??