Le Clown Bar in Paris -  natural wines and Clowns in a historic setting

Le Clown Bar is a famous place in the Parisian natural wine world.

It serves up French-inspired dishes that you can wash down by some stellar French natural wines - surrounded by clowns on the walls.

A great experience - unless of course you suffer from coulrophobia.

Clown bar Paris - head shotLe Clown Bar in Paris - here we go
Bar at le Clown Bar in ParisClowns on the ceiling and the walls at le Clown Bar in Paris.

We'll get to le Clown Bar, but first...

As is customary for me - I’ll start talking about le Clown Bar in a roundabout way - with Savagnin.

I remember the moment when I first tried a Savagnin (and no - that's not a typo, autocorrect). It was a smashing wine made by one of my favourite wine producers in Niagara - Big Head.

My mind stopped, my heart stopped, time stopped. A meditative experience.

Unlike anything I’ve tried before.

Savagnin wines at Big Head winery in NiagaraSavagnin wines by Big Head in Niagara. The one on the left - made in concrete. The one on the right - combination of oak and clay.

I quickly found out that Savagnin is an ancient variety - a granddaddy.

Savagnin is a sage who relays mysteries of the Universe to you - slowly and with carefully chosen words.

You can tell I love it, don’t ya?

Savagnin is closely associated with the style of wine called Vin Jaune from the Jura region in Eastern France.

Vin Jaune gets aged for 7 years minimum in barrels under a film of yeast and develops sherry-like flavours.

But I prefer a Savagnin that is made as a conventional white wine - mineral, ethereal, flinty. All these descriptors made no sense to me - until I tried a Savagnin.

And nobody knew about it! That was years ago.

Now - Savagnin is a sommelier darling. You find it in all the cool wine bars.

Suddenly, the Jura winemakers - a peaceful and unsuspecting folk - have become the rock stars of the wine world.

Savagnin invasion at le Clown Bar in Paris

I was not surprised to discover that the wine list at le Clown Bar in Paris is heavily leaning on Jura. Savagnin goes exceptionally well with traditional French cuisine.

Clown Bar AmbianceA laid-back and jolly atmosphere - fuelled by good food, natural wine and clowns plastered on the walls.

Le Clown Bar is actually not a bar. It is definitely a restaurant. And you better have a reso.

By some pure godly intervention we were able to get a table for 3 when we walked in.

Le Clown Bar - ceiling and flowers distortedThis image is distorted and trippy - which is exactly how you feel when you look up at the vibrant ceiling

It’s a cute place, in a classified historic setting. Full of personality and unique charm.

The incredible circus-themed art on the walls and the ceiling dates back to 1907 - when this place was a watering hole for famous circus performers from around the world.

Le Clown Bar painted ceiling and wallsThe details are absolutely incredible - that's la Belle Epoque for you - they knew how to make a place look fun.
Cirque d'hiver ParisThe Cirque d'Hiver - a long-standing Parisian circus establishment - is only steps away from le Clown Bar.

The wine list at le Clown bar is organized by the producer, which I loved. It kinda gives you a chance to do a producer-themed wine dive. That’s not something you see often.

Le Clown Bar natural wine menuReady to dive into the heart of darkness - the whites

The prices per bottle are high.

We had just arrived from Champagne, where I had spent the majority of that trip’s budget. I was expecting the pressure on my wallet to ease off in Paris. Yeah, ok.

I voiced my concern to the sommelier. And he continued to make fun of me for the rest of the night - in a sweet and inoffensive way that only Parisians can accomplish.

“So how is your cheap wine - does it go well with the expensive oysters?” he would quip walking by.

Fair, fair.

Who would dare ask for a cheap bottle of wine at a legendary Parisian establishment. Joke's on me.

Clown bar wine glassCall me a snob, or maybe a business brain but I have a penchant for branded stemware - even if the glass shape is as unappealing as this one.

The sommelier at le Clown Bar helped us select this bottle of Savagnin at a bargain price of 70 euros.

Naturé Foudre à Canon 2019, Domaine de la Borde, by Julien Mareschal

Julien Mareschal Savagnin 2019Naturé Foudre à Canon by Julien Mareschal

Julien is a small producer in the Jura region - in one of its most prestigious appellations around the quaint village of Pupillin.

His philosophy is one of respect and love for the vines. No chemicals in the vineyards. In the winery he strives for minimum intervention.

Domaine de la Borde at le Clown BarFood, Savagnin, people - my paradise

His vineyards are some of the highest in the region - hence the perceived lightness and airiness in his wines.

This particular wine is a Savagnin, although Julien also makes wines from Chardonnay grapes.

Organic grapes, spontaneous fermentation in old oak foudres, and then another 20 months ageing on lees in the barrels. No filtration, no fining and no added sulphur. Yum

Naturé Foudre à Canon 2019, Domaine de la BordeSavagnin with panisses (I'm surprised autocorrect got this one right)

I won’t even bother with wine notes because all 3 of us picked up on completely different things. But the consensus was - pure magic!

I found a great video on Julien on youtube. It clearly shows that soulful wines are always made by soulful people.

Food at le Clown Bar - no joke!

Savagnin is a very versatile food wine, provided you are not having spicy Szechuan for dinner. But even then, Savagnin might hold its own.

Wine glass at le Clown barSavagnin among amazing food - and it doesn't get lost
Food menu at le Clown BarUnlike the wine menu - which is practically a bible - food menu at le Clown Bar is short and sweet, with some vegan options

Let’s see what we had:

My carnivore sister and cousin started off with oysters, moved on to some more raw fish with raw caviar and finished off with another cooked fish dish.

It was clearly a seafood night for them.

Oysters at le Clown Bar in Paris
Raw fish at le Clown bar

My plant-based options were broccolini with mushrooms and a plate of panisses, which my cousin from California insisted on calling penises.

We know whose mind is in the gutter.

Mushrooms at le Clown Bar in Paris
Le Clown Bar plate of pansies

But the best pairing of the night was this vegan chocolate mousse creation with buckwheat.

Le Clown Bar buckwheat dessertI love dishes that look simple but taste like a bomb

Savagnin carried it all on its powerful back and came out - yet again - as an absolute zen master.

A trip to the Jura region definitely needs to happen.

Cousins cheers at le Clown barWaxed bottles in the background look like a field of poppies.

I would say that I have a penchant for natural wine places that have a distinct flavour - an unmistakable personality.

Le Clown Bar is on my list of those establishments, even though apparently a 70-euro bottle of wine is a “cheap” option here.

Le Clown Bar outsideAs is customary with cool places - le Clown Bar Paris doesn't have a sign.

Le Clown Bar Paris

114 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris, France

Domaine De La Borde

Chem. des Vignes, 39600 Pupillin, France