Self-confessed gourmet aficionado and proprietor of La Buvette - the petite organic wine bar perched in Paris’s 11th arrondissement - Camille Fourment pulls no punches when it comes to quality. Louise Binns sat down with the woman behind the zinc-capped bar to talk wine-pairing and setting up shop in the City of Lights.
What brought you to Paris?
I visited Paris several times as a child with my mother, a born and bred Parisienne. I fell under the spell of the city and moved here, with the full support of my parents, once I had finished my school studies in the Loire Valley. I've now been here for 15 years and have no regrets!
What led you to open La Buvette?
First, I had the extraordinary luck to work in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at Mama Shelter. He introduced me to a winemaker’s agent, Daniele Gerault, who became a huge influence on my professional career: she took me under her wing, introduced me to well-established wine makers and unlocked my passion. More experience came from managing the bar at Inaki Aizpitarte's Le Dauphin. At the same time, I spent a lot of time at restaurants such as Avant Comptoir and Vivant, where I tried dishes that taught me it was possible to feed people well without being a chef.
When you were looking for locations, what drew you to rue Saint-Maur?
I have always been drawn to this space. It was originally a dairy shop but was a general grocery store by the time I first became aware of it. I’ll never forget riding my bike down the street one Sunday morning and seeing the lease sign in the window – I stopped immediately and called the phone number listed on the advert. The following day I was viewing the space. I think it was destiny how events played out - as soon as I stepped inside it was without doubt the place for my wine bar.
How do you decide which wines grace your shelves?
It’s simple – I sell wine that I have tasted and fallen in love with! There are no set rules. If that means more Bourgogne than Languedoc for a while, so be it. The one constant is that every bottle is organic.
What type of crowd flocks to La Buvette?
I have a real soft spot for my regulars, some of whom are from the neighbourhood and drop in a few times a week. Others travel from further afield, from New York for example, but I consider them regulars because they visit whenever they come to Paris. My hands down favourite moments are listening to my older customers reminisce about the days they spent in L’Ange Vin, an organic wine bar that no longer exists, run by the well known wine-maker Jean-Pierre Robinot.
When you’re not behind the counter, where can we find you?
Usually hanging out with my friends in the cafés and restaurants that they run, tasting new and exciting food and wine. My favourite hangout spots include Téléscope (for coffee), Le Dauphin (great tapas), Coinstot Vino (for pizza) and Capucine Caffette (simple but good food).
67 rue Saint-Maur, 75011, Paris.
Words by Louise Binns
Photos by Marie Ouvrard