Since 1850, Les Caves Augé has been selling wine in Paris – most notably to French novelist Marcel Proust back in the day. About once a month, they host a free wine tasting right on the sidewalk and it’s been on my list of French activities to check out ever since I moved here. So on a beautiful sunny Saturday this weekend, Rio and I finally decided to take a stroll to Les Caves Augé and enjoy some free wine.
While walking there, we knew we were heading in the right direction because about a block away, you literally could smell the alcohol wafting down the street. It seriously smelled like a frat house… but instead of a group of college boys wearing Greek letters and khakis and chugging beer from a keg, it was a crowd of bundled-up Frenchies tasting (and spitting) wine from multiple vendors who displayed their bottles on wine barrels on the sidewalk outside of Les Caves Augé.
So what do you do if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris during their sidewalk tastings?
- Resist immediately grabbing a wine glass, and head inside the shop to ask for a sheet listing the different wines you can taste that day.
- Ok, head back outside and now you can just grab one of the tasting glasses that are sitting atop any of the wine barrels.
- Say “Bonjour, madame/monsieur” to the winemaker behind the barrel, tell them which wine you’d like to taste, and stick your wine glass in front of them. Now is not the time to be shy.
- Make a mental note of whether you liked it or not, and if you didn’t, spit it out in the wine bucket on the ground (or just drink it anyway like I do).
- Move on to the next wine producer (it’s the guy/girl in front of another barrel) and repeat steps 3 and 4.
- If you decide you want to buy any of the wine you tasted, they’re at a discounted rate if you buy six of the same bottle. When ready to purchase, head back inside and tell one of the salespersons what you’d like to buy.
- Once the salesperson has your wines ready, just go to la caisse (cash register) and make your purchase. Voila, c’est tout!
As for the wine shop inside, it’s beautiful with dark wood, antique tiles, counters and a “Caisse” sign that looks like it was probably there back when the store first opened in 1850. It is beyond cluttered with boxes and boxes of wine stacked in what seems like every corner and in the aisle, which only adds to the experience of buying and tasting wine there.
Here’s a link to their tastings calendar for April, May and June. I highly recommend visiting for a true Frenchie wine tasting experience.
Les Caves Augé (pronounced au-jay)
116 boulevard Haussmann (**Right by l’Église Saint-Augustin)
Tél: 01 45 22 16 97