First of one thousand. The mayden voyage takes us to the 12th arrondisement in Paris, a city that needs no further introduction. But why host the premiere at this particular bar? Well, even though I don't believe in the superiority of one bar to another, at several drunken occasions have I proclaimed this place as the best bar experience world wide.
Le Baron Rouge, a name it shares with the legendary fighter pilot Manfred Von Richthofen (a german noble who during the WWI gained a heroic reputation fighting from an aircraft painted in the colour red), is a wine bar situated next to the charming small square Place d’Aligre where a high-qualitative food market is held six days a week. We are now entering the rustic fantasies of all cliché-seeking romantics that when confronted with the City of Light, too often becomes cynically downhearted by the fact that Paris is just like any other big city in the world - it is cold, dirty, oppressive and corrupt. Now let us forget about this shock of reality and let us stay in the naive dream of Paris and from here we can visualise ourselves as we are living the classic French market with all its colours, smells and imaginary sounds of Django Reinhardt’s jaunty guitar. It is a beautiful day and society knows no difference of class. We are all going to live forever in a merry and careless eternity. After picking up our dead but happy rabbit that we will later cook for our mistress after a long afternoon of incredible sex, we stop at the friendly vegetable vendor Alain and we engage ourselves in a philosophical discussion about wether Derrida or Foucault is the most influential key person in post-structuralist thought. It is all very stimulating and as we actually understand a word of what we are talking about and as we have succeeded in turning a blind eye to the fact that Alain is clearly a straight-out racist, life cannot possibly get any better than this. This is when we slide by Le Baron Rouge for a glass of wine.
"Saucisson, Rillettes de canard, Päte de Campagne and so much more"
This is where the dream actually comes true. Le Baron Rouge can best be described as a temple for proletarian connoisseurs. It is that kind of place where you eat and drink like a king but you pay like a peasant. In a city where even the fattest wallets can go starving after a couple of days, here you find yourself drinking smooth Bordeaux for only a couple of euros a glass. Even more democratic is that you can also get your wine fix in the old fashioned way by filling up your own bottle straight from the casks, prices starting at around 2-3 €. This way of doing business results in a highly jovial atmosphere where the flow of wine never ceases to stop around the packed mob of thirsty regulars from around the neighbourhood. Yes, this is that kind of "where everybody knows your name"-joint, the place where the locals re-up with dopamines during or after a hard day's labour alongside the increasing number of envious tourists having found their way here. We feel envy not only because that this slice of Paris can’t be found back in that grey reality called home, envy because this does not even exist in Paris anymore. This is part of the fantasy, out of our reach.
I remember my first visit here when me and a friend passed by on a Sunday afternoon in October a couple of years ago. We must have redefined the concept "breakfast for champions” as we stumbled in at the bar directly from bed, after a hazardous night out where we must have drank at least half of the south Rhone valley at the superb Belleville restaurant Le Baratin. Hands were shaking and minds were trembling as we entered the Red Baron where the Sunday oyster feast were in the making. It was a memorable scene with people raising glasses all the way out on the sidewalk where an old woman was cracking up oysters as if she was standing straight on the shores of Bretagne. We ordered a big plate of Atlantic prime and a bottle of premier cru and hoped that we would regain any signs of pulse soon again. So we did, and we felt even more triumphant as we dove into the charcuterie and red wines. Yes, we kept telling ourselves, life ain't that bad after all. Saucisson, Rillettes de canard, Päte de Campagne and so much more. Everything executed perfectly by the friendly staff who were obviously enjoying themselves as well with a glass or two. As our social skills were brought back to life with the third bottle of wine so did conversations with fellow guests being initiated as well, leading to a long afternoon of half hour friendships, salutes and such. It was the perfect afternoon, the perfect bar and the perfect way to kill a hangover. IRL.
Drinks? Wine, wine, wine. French, French, French.
Munch? Do not miss out on the oyster frenzies taking place at the weekends.
I'm always on the lookout for more bars to enjoy and write about. Do you know about an interesting place in your city or elsewhere, let me know and maybe I´ll stop by!
Photo 1: File:Le_Baron_Rouge%2C_1_Rue_Theophile_Roussel.jpg, Gideon, 13/4-2008, wikimedia.org, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Le_Baron_Rouge%2C_1_Rue_Theophile_Roussel.jpg Photo 2: baron_rouge_comptoir.jpg, 20/8-2004, wineterroirs.com, wineterroirs.com/2004/08/paris_wine_bars.html Photo 3: baron_rouge_vin_vrac.jpg, 20/8_2004, wineterroirs.com, wineterroirs.com/2004/08/paris_wine_bars.html