Simon runs the Cave á Bulles beer shop in Paris. In some cities a specialist shop like this menas a trek into the suburbs. Not here, we are talking about a few blocks from the Pompidou Centre, with good transport links. If you are in town for other reasons than the beer, as, I have to admit even I was, this is easy to combine with both tourism or business.
Well. We are talking about an airy shop with shelves along the walls giving enough space to the bottles. It’s not an Aladdin’s cave like some places, where the good stuff fights with pale lagers from exotic countries, but there are 100+ French artisan beers and a few dozen Belgians. The breweries are from the various regions of France, some fairly new, some a bit more established. The beers are not as extreme as their Italian counterparts, most of them have a more moderate alcohol content and are more subtle.
Simon tells me that the beer revolution has not quite taken off in France as yet. There is a lot of beer consumed, much of it produced in the traditional beery corner of the country, in Alsace. Unfortunately most of this is bland industrial beer, with little to distinguish this from other standard Eurolagers.
Not so with the beers on offer here. I end up with 14 recommended beers from a broad range of breweries. Most of them are available in 33 cl bottles, very convenient when there are baggage limitations to consider. The prices are reasonable, 2.70 € for 0,33 l bottles, 5.40 € for 0,75 l.
The personal service and enthusiasm is as excllent as the other beer shop I’ve been ranking the highest, Johnny’s Off Licence in Rome. Simon even bubble wraps my purchases when I’ve made my choices. He can also advice me on a few bars worth visiting, one of them close to my hotel.
So – when in Paris – if you have time for one beer stop, make sure this is the one. And if you have time for more than one, make this the first. And please bring along a bottle of craft beer for Simon. He’ll be happy to swap it for something good from his stock.