If you're looking for a wine bar in Montmartre that has barely changed since the 1950's, try the "Bar Au Rêve". The venue is out of the beaten path and its patrons come from a wide range of social milieus depending of the hour, from people who live next door, shop owners, passerbys to professionals working in the area, artists and students.
You can check that nothing here has changed for years when you look at the black and white picture on the wall behind the bar, which features owners Elyette and Pierre posing for Beaujolais nouveau in 1968...same people in the same place. Prices of the wines were a little cheaper then, at least nominally (maybe not in inflation-adjusted terms), as I could read on the upper-left corner of the pic : 0,60 to 0,70 Franc per glass (9 to 11 cents)...
The bar is open very late, till 2 am, which was common for bars in Paris 50 years ago or more. Security problems as well as restrictive work laws have forced many bars and cafés to close much earlier, but here, the owners tend the bar themselves and this part of Montmartre is quiet like a village.
The first time I went into this bar, it was indeed very late at night, even beyond closing time : I had been shooting pictures of after-hours Paris for Ken, who was preparing a book on the subject, and we were cruising the neighbourhood on my motorcycle when we saw this island of life in the middle of the night, and decided to stop there.
Marina was sitting at the next table with a friend and we engaged the conversation. Both are comedians on stage in the area and were quite festive that evening. They had glasses of rosé and we ordered both a glass of Jacky Preys Sauvignon. Time went by and we were still ordering more wine even if it was now well beyong closing time. Eylette was so good, she was alone to handle the bar and she did not even push us out, I think we left at 3 am or something like that.
Let's look at the wines. They propose a selection of 3 whites and 6 reds by the glass, all being priced at 2 Euro standing at the bar and 2,2 Euro sitting. Whites are Touraine Sauvignon Jacky Preys, Macon Villages La Grégoire and Touraine Vin Gris, Cuvée Napoleon 2004 by Jacky Preys (a rosé actually). Reds are Touraine Gamay Henry Marionnet, Cotes du Rhone Philippe Bouchard, Bourgeuil (Cabernet Franc) Domaine des Mailloches 2004, Bourgogne Rouge (pinot Noir) La Grégoire, Bordeaux A. Tricard, Valençay Jacky Preys.
I did not like too much the Marionnet Gamay but liked better the Bourgeuil and its fruity mouthfeel. I just discovered that Domaine des Mailloches wines are very affordable but alas they will not be part of the next big Paris wine fair (nov 23-29 2006).
Elyette is the soul of this place. While Pierre spends some time there during the day, Elyette is there from lunch time to closing time. She knows every one in the neighbourhood and some of the patrons are artists or writers or just interesting individuals who have lived through the Bohemian times of the sixties and beyond. Some have moved elsewhere or settled in a remote wilderness in France but she keeps ties or news from a lot of them.
This place has a soul, a history, and it is more than just because of the nice 1930's decoration that is still in place. By all means, and thanks to its owners, the bar still is the warming point for the different populations of the day and of the night who sometimes just come in to sip coffee, draft or wine and grab the wooden rod of the newspaper holders to read the news. That's what a bar is supposed to be.