In Review: Au Sauvignon, a Paris Wine Bar That Transcends Trendy

(Last Updated On: October 3, 2019)
Au Sauvignon: a Paris wine bar that somehow transcends trendiness.
A glass of red wine from St-Emilion is paired with a small plate of typical French cheeses at Au Sauvignon in Paris. Image credit: E.K.

Opened some 65 years ago around the corner from the iconic Hotel Lutetia, Au Sauvignon is a Paris wine bar that’s been owned and operated by the same family since 1954. It seems as though not much has changed in the decades since– except perhaps the influx of a trendy clientele alongside loyal regulars, and a greater number of bottles bearing coveted vintage labels.

More than half a century later at the same location, Parisians still squeeze into tables alongside smatterings of tourists on the crowded terrace outside, or huddle inside the rustic interiors during the colder months. A small staff of waiters and bartenders wearing black uniforms serve food and wine from a simple but painstakingly curated menu, offering exclusively French fare.

The busy terrace at Au Sauvignon, a popular traditional "bar à vin" in Paris.

In short? This is a solid traditional wine bar and an ideal spot for an excellent glass in close reach of the Latin Quarter. Read on for my full review.

The Perks:

Busy terrace at Au Sauvignon, a popular bar a vin in Paris, France.
  • The wine list is simple and reasonably priced without being too restrictive. Several excellent wines are available by the glass.
  • The food is delicious, simple and authentically French
  • The updated menu includes options for vegetarians and at least one for vegans
  • Great location: the bar is situated at the edge of the Latin Quarter and nearby the stately Jardin du Luxembourg

And now, the downsides…

  • The wine list is somewhat limited: few international vintages are included on it, and it’s not especially eclectic
  • There are few food options outside cheese and charcuterie plates, salads and tartines– this may suit some, but for those seeking sophisticated “small-plates” fare, other wine bars may be more your speed
  • Au Sauvignon is relatively small space that gets packed and noisy on the weekends

My experience at Au Sauvignon

Amid the clutter of posters celebrating the arrival of new vintages of Beaujolais, cartoons, caricatures, and paintings of Paris, including one of the bar itself, it’s easy to miss an inconspicuous metal sign hanging on the wall and displaying this maxim: “Le prix attire la clientele, la qualité seule la retient” (The price attracts customers; only quality brings them back).

These brief words perfectly describe Au Sauvignon, whose reasonable but not rock-bottom prices accord with the wine bar’s commitment to high quality food and wine.

Pommard 1er Cru 2008: "Les Jarollieres" from the Domaine de la Pousse d'Or in Volnay, France. Image: Au Sauvignon/Facebook page
Pommard 1er Cru 2008: “Les Jarollieres” from the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or in Volnay, France. Image: Au Sauvignon/Facebook page

The Wine Selection

The carefully selected wine list occupies a single page of the compact menu and offers whites, reds and a few rosés, either by the glass or bottle. While the list is parsimonious, it covers most of France’s prestigious winemaking regions: Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Loire, Alsace, the Rhone Valley and many others. The wines are all sourced from well-respected producers.

Whites range from Meursault Premier Cru to Quincy, Chablis to Pouilly-Fumé and Loupiac. The selection of reds includes pricier selections such as Morgon, Santenay and St-Emilion Grand crus, alongside entry-level, inexpensive varieties (such as Beaujolais).

Rosé offerings, meanwhile, are rather paltry and limited to Sancerre, Lubéron and Bandol. But one of the joys of the shorter wine list is that you can’t really go wrong.

A tip: don’t overlook the Beaujolais because of its low price. Au Sauvignon specializes in this notoriously inexpensive wine; this bar is a popular destination during the annual celebrations welcoming a new batch of Beaujolais each November.

Whether you try something new or stick to an old favorite, you won’t likely be disappointed. The owners of this bar show particular discernment in their selection of high-quality wines.

The Nibbles

A glass of red paired with avocado, lime, shallot and chive “tartines”: a newer menu option well-suited for anyone avoiding animal products. Image: Au Sauvignon/Facebook page

To accompany your wine, order a “Casse-Croûtes au Pain Poilane” (closed-faced sandwiches mostly consisting of pork on artisanal Poilane bread). The sandwiches come pre-sliced into little squares that are perfect for sharing and snacking on. Also enjoy Speck ham, fatty pork pâté (rillettes pur porc), stuffed goose neck, crispy pork cracklings and plenty more traditional charcuteries.

You can order a variety of these with or without a side of Cantal cheese. Au Sauvignon also offers warm open-faced sandwiches with cheese, smoked salmon or, of course, pork.

And with the arrival of avocado, shallot and lime tartines on the menu, even those avoiding animal products altogether can still enjoy a simple and delicious bite to accompany a glass or two.

Practical Details: Location, Contacts & Getting There

  • Address: 80 rue des Saints-Pères, 7th arrondissement 
  • Metro: Sèvres-Babylone, Saint-Sulpice
  • Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 49 02
  • Open: Monday-Saturday 8am-11pm, Sunday 10am-9pm. Closed in August.
  • Visit the official website (French only) or the Facebook page

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Editors Note: This article originally appeared on About.com Paris Travel prior to it being de-indexed. It has been updated for accuracy and lightly edited to add information. 

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