Few people know the art living of the French Guinguette. These taverns located along the banks of the rivers are mostly open-air restaurants with dance-floors as seen in the colourful paintings by the Impressionists.
Guinguette (pronounced ‘gang-ETTE ») exist since the end of the 18th century when Parisians ventured outside the city limits in order to avoid a tax (octroi) on incoming merchandise and especially those placed on wines being brought into Paris. They were outdoor café-restaurants, often on the meandering banks of the Seine as evoked by the luminous plein-air paintings of Renoir, Manet, and Monet. Zola and Maupassant colourfully described them in their novels.
Like the word bistro, the origin of the word guinguette is debated, but most likely it originates from the name of a wine produced on the outskirts of Paris, called the « guiguet » that was described as being most sour.
During the 19th and 20th century, the guinguettes gathered the working class who came on Sundays to the these taverns along the banks of the Marne or the Seine river to enjoy simple meals of friture (fried whitebait) and less expensive wines. Thus, from 1850s to 1950s, scores of these cabaret like restaurants could be found along the banks of the Seine and Marne Rivers. After lunch, people would enjoy dancing the polka, waltz, and of course the famous« Valse Musette“ accompanied by the iconic accordion or even later by country rock.
During the 1950’s, the rise of television almost killed the guinguette so today few survive.
The Guinguette Auvergnate at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges is one of the remaining rare exampled and worth a visit.
It was created by Jean-Pierre Vic in 1995. Jean-Pierre runs a café near Saint-Germain des Près, but not willing to remain in the overcrowded streets of Paris as soon as he discovered this Guinguette, he immediately purchased it.
Jean-Pierre enjoys the art of giving pleasure to people. According to him, happiness comes with an excellent melody on the accordion (which he plays deftly) accompanied by good food.
In his Guinguette Auvergnate, he manages to gather all generations and to have fun. Grandparents, cousins, friends, children all came to dance and enjoy themselves. La Guinguette Auvergnate, according to Annabel Simms, is a little spot of paradise. Annabel is the author of « An hour from Paris » a guide to 20 lesser-known destinations reachable by train.
At la Guinguette Auvergnate, you will taste an authentic cuisine from Auvergne and Aveyron regions. The portions of aligot (mashed potatoes, garlic and cheese) are generous, but there is also stuffed cabbage, and many specialities, among them, the calf’s head of la Guinguette Auvergnate which keeps connoisseurs coming. The dance and the music of La Guinguette Auvergnate is perfect for the digestion.
(10 minutes from Paris by train)
La Guinguette Auvergnate
19 avenue de Choisy
Phone : (33) 1 43 89 04 64
Station RER : Villeneuve-Triage (12 mn from Gare de Lyon (Line D)
Menus from 13,50 to 22 €
Dancing lunch or dinner : from 35 to 45€
Open every day except on Monday
Service from 11.30 AM to 18.00 PM and the evening from 19.00 PM to 2.00 AM
Reserve by email