Clos MontmatreThe Secret Vineyard of Paris

Written by on June 19, 2017 in Guest Blogs, Paris, Romantic

It was the Romans who established vineyards in Paris more than a thousand years ago. Maybe it was the starting point for the vibrant French wine industry and culture that we know and love today.

A Vineyard in Paris

The earliest vineyards declined gradually as urban development progressed in Paris. The last of these Roman plantations disappeared during the wreckage that occurred during the invasion of Paris at the time of the Franco Prussian war around 1870.

There is though a vineyard right in the heart of Paris. It is all a bit of a secret actually. Few people know about it and few visitors take the trouble to find it. It lies just behind the Sacré-Cour Basilica on the west side of Montmartre and hides in its shadow. It is called the Clos Montmartre and was created in 1933. Find it in the 18th arrondissement at the corner of rue des Saules and rue Saint Vincent.

It was established by officials of Montmartre City Hall. A commercial construction company had expressed an interest in building some houses on the vineyard’s present site. It was at the time a rubbish disposal location where tramps often stayed and the poorer children of the city played. The development was opposed by the local authorities. Under French law, it is prohibited to build on any vineyard site so the council decided to create one of their own on the waste tip. The wine would be produced commercially and the profits would be given to local charities.

The area is quite small, occupying just 1500 square metres. There are approximately 2000 vines vigorously growing even though as they grow on a north facing slope,  they do not receive the strongest sunlight. The Clos Montmartre is wonderfully tended and supports many wildflowers. It is a secured location but easily viewed by visitors from the surrounding pathways outside the protective fence. It is the only vineyard in Paris.

I went to try and find it for myself on a splendid sunny day. Some passing American tourists stopped and asked me where the vineyard was. They followed me to the vineyard and we were all impressed, taking photos and ooh’ing and ah’ing.

The buildings surrounding the vineyard are of older classic French architectural style and poise. The Maison Rose on the corner by the vineyard is famous for its good looks. There are some shops, cafes and museums close by and it makes for a lovely place to promenade.

The Wine Festival of Paris

There is an annual five day grape harvest festival in Montmartre each autumn: La Fete des Vendanges. Grapes are taken from the Clos Montmartre during this period to the local cellar at the Montmartre City Hall. Here they are pressed, fermented and bottled. The wine is sold locally in Paris and experts describe it as being of medium quality. There are about 1000 to 1500 bottles auctioned each year and they go for quite high prices to reflect their rather unique status. The profits given to local Parisian charities. The bottles are labelled ‘Clos Montmartre from the Cuvee de L’Amour’. They are surely a wonderful souvenir of Paris for visitors to take home with them.

A visit to the City vineyard, Clos Montmartre, makes a magnificent interlude – a great symbol of one of the mighty agricultural industries of France surrounded by classically distinct Parisian architecture and subtlety.

Bob Lyons is an ex pilot turned travel writer who loves France.

Related Articles

The Promenade Plantée Paris – the most unusual park in the city

The other day I was waiting at Gare de Lyon in Paris to take a train to Burgundy (I know I have the best job, right?!)… I had quite a bit of time to spare so, lugging my suitcase and camera bag I wandered outside the station. I decided to go no further than 10 […]

Continue Reading

Reasons to love France No. 7 by Carol Drinkwater

We talk to Carol Drinkwater, the award winning actress and author of several bestsellers including the much loved Olive Series, about her love of France… Where was your first visit to France? It is hard to remember now. I think it must have been when I was about ten and travelled with my parents to […]

Continue Reading

3 cities perfect for Autumn visits in France

Paris in Autumn Hot chocolate in cafés that have a warm glow at dusk, golden leaves floating gently down on wide avenues and rosy sunsets. Rainy days when museums beckon, steaming hot coffee and croissants and walking on frosty cobble stones. And don’t forget Nuit Blanche, the big event of the season held every first […]

Continue Reading

Sainte-Chapelle Paris the church that’s like a Jewellery box

Earnest faced angels with pale pink and blue wings and voluminous frocks hover over the six musicians on a tiny stage. Solemn faced saints look down from their lofty perches. Shadows flicker across stained glass windows and sculpted walls that have stood for centuries as the sweet sound of Bach fills the air. An enraptured audience breaks […]

Continue Reading

3 wonderful French book stores in Paris that you will love

Happily, one-of-a-kind bookshops are alive, well and thriving in Paris, and everyone seems to have their favorites. More than just stop-offs to find a good read, these three are slightly off-the-radar and provide just enough zip and zing to keep me coming back. LIBRAIRIE ALAIN BRIEUX It is no accident that Librairie Alain Brieux is […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top