5 Spots to Score or Sip a Bottle of Natural Bubbles this NYE

goin out In France, the year's end is commemorated with celebrations that encourage submerging both the good and bad of the 365 days gone in an onslaught of bubbles and oysters. It's a great way to see the end of the past year, but often renders the beginning of the following year a bit rough. To avoid starting your new year with regrets and a headache avoid the primary causes of both which can often be attributed to sulfite-laden, sweetened champagnes.

Waking up sans morning after aches doesn't mean excluding yourself from the festivities, it just takes a little planning and enjoying a healthy dose of natural bubbly throughout the evening. These untreated wines, which have the benefit of being both less expensive and more forgiving the next day than your standard champagne, will guarantee a great night and an even better beginning of 2014.

Fancy champagnes may make you feel like a baller they evening of, but leave you feeling less glamourous the morning after

Many natural sparkling wines, or petillants naturels ("pet' nats" if you're in to the whole brevity thing) as they are referred to in France, contain no added sulfites or other chemicals, making them all around easier on the head.
Along with avoiding any added sulfites, natural wine makers also eschew adding sugar, and will not chapatalize their wines (add sugar to increase alcohol content) or practice what is refereed to as "dosing" a sparkling wine (adding a dose of sugar or sweet wine to the bubbly at the time of bottling). Adding sugar to a wine may increase the alcohol or amount of bubbles in your bottle, but it also increases your chances of a nasty hangover the next day.

A glass of bubbly at Ma Cave Fleury

There are plenty of options for spots to pick up a bottle of pet' nat for your New Year's Eve fête ce soir. Here are five of my favorites:
Ma Cave Fleury
Ma Cave Fleury is a small cave à vins in the 2nd arrondissement. The space has seating available and you can enjoy a bottle of natural champagne on site, or you can grab a few bottles to go. Here you will find a selection of natural champagnes (including a few non-dosed options) from the Champagnes Fleury domaine, which espouses a biodynamic approach to agriculture and winemaking.
La Cave des Papilles
La Cave des Papilles is an institution in the natural wine shop scene in Paris. The staff have developped close relationships with all the winemakers they work with and are happy to help you chose a bottle. A selection of natural bubbles from the Loire and southern France await you at this cave in the 14th arrondissement.

Triple Zero Petillant at Le Siffleur de Ballons

Le Siffleur de Ballons
Le Siffleur de Ballons is one of my favorite spots to have a glass of natural wine with an assiette de fromage because their constantly changing (and super affordable) wines by the glass menu is an excellent way to discover new wines and revisit old favorites. There is always at least one pet' nat available by the glass, but you can also choose a bottle from their boutique. I recommend Jacky Blot's Triple Zero, which has been a good companion for several happy occasions.
En Vrac
En Vrac is a fairly recent addition to the natural wine bar scene in Paris. Located in the up and coming Riquet neighborhood in the 19th arrondissement, En Vrac sells both bottles and bulk wine. As it's name (French for "in bulk") implies, the cave offers the option of bringing your own bottle to fill with your choice of reds and wines by the barrel. If you're looking for bubbles, ask the friendly staff to orient you towards a bottle among their small but well curated selection of natural wines.

Bottles of Natural wine at Ma Cave Fleury

Le Vin en Tête
Le Vin en Tête has two wine shops and one wine bar in Paris, all of which are staffed with incredibly helpful wine geeks and stocked with a beautiful assortment of natural wines. The shops regularly host tastings, often with winemakers from the Champagne region, and can help you pick out a great bottle of bubbly for your evening, and why not pick up a white to pair with your oysters while you're there?
I wish you a happy and sparkly réveillon readers and all the best in the new year!
Bonne Année from Paris Paysanne!!

Marché du Mois: Marché St. Eustache-Les Halles

****Editor's Note: On a recent visit to this market I visited the vendor described below and found him to be incredibly rude as well as charging an outrageous amount for his produce, claiming they are specialty products and impossible to find elsewhere in Paris- which is not the case. Fortunately this man is an anomoly among Paris markets, but I would hate for anyone to have an unpleasant experience with this unpleasant man. If you are planning on visiting this market, do so on a Sunday when the organic food vendor is present and offering "bio" produce at a reasonable price (thanks Emperor Norton for this tip)  ***********************************************************************************************

Marché St. Eustache-Les Halles is all that remains of what was once the site of the city's largest food market. Later replaced by Rungis, Les Halles was where chefs, store owners, and shoppers of all sorts came to stock up on fresh ingredients.

Whether you are attracted by the history of this marketplace, it's central location near the charming Montorgueil neighborhood, or the convenient hours it keeps, there are plenty of reasons to visit the vestiges of what once was Paris' primary food source.

It is worth noting that this market, along with a few others including Marché Bourse and Marché Anvers, is one of a small number of Parisian food markets that stays open late enough on a weekday for shoppers to stop by on their way home from work.

What remains of the market is hardly a fraction of its predecessor and, unfortunately, there is not a farmer in sight at any of the stands that line the rue Montmartre. However, the products on offer are mostly of French origin and predominately seasonal.

French vegetables, chickens, and cheeses are for sale at various stands and the poissonerie was proudly displaying Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops), for which the fishing season opened on the 1st of October.

I was attracted by some heirloom veggies, including gorgeous purple "haricots verts" at a stand that was manned by a seller who knew his stuff. He instructed me how to prepare the "green" beans and then served me some lovely cèpes and told me what to do with those, too.

He bagged up my dinner ingredients as the smells of hot lunch wafted through the market stalls. Like most afternoon markets, Marché St. Eustache-Les Halles caters not only to forward-thinking shoppers who are getting the evening's groceries, but also those who seek instant gratification and some homemade ratatouille on their lunch break.

The majority of the produce at my chosen veggie stand seemed to come from France and the vendor's knowledge of each product implied an interest and investment in his profession. Doubting very much that he was actually the grower of the vegetables (the selection was too large and varied to come from one farmer), I decided to ask if he was a producteur anyway.

"Mais non!" he responded, slightly offended. "How can you expect me to be the producer- I spend all my time at the markets!" Point taken. This is an unavoidable issue for the independent producers that we see at markets, who have to split their time and lengthen their days by being both grower & seller of their produce.

So while there are no local producers present at the Marché St. Eustache-Les Halles, it is still possibel to find French-grown food and quality products, all while enjoying a stroll around this truly charming neighborhood.

Marché St. Eustache-Les Halles rue Montmartre, 75001 m° Les Halles (line 4) Hours: Thursday: 12h30-20h30 Sunday: 7h-15h