Drinking wine in Cebu has never really been that big of a thing, at least not until the opening of La Vie Parisienne in 2011.
Back in those days, the place was a charming little thing consisting of a repurposed container van with counters of freshly-baked bread, cold cuts, and cheese; and a cellar boasting of quite the impressive selection of wine. Tables scattered outside in the garden shared with Alliance Française de Cebu’s French restaurant La Maison Rose, at night only lit by a few warm lighting fixtures here and there, along with flickering tea candles in charming holders serving as the table’s centerpiece and bolstering the intimate atmosphere.
It’s a long way from the La Vie Parisienne that exploded in popularity. In response to the rapidly growing clientele, floor boards were added for convenience, as well as to make room for more tables. This also saw the addition of the now-iconic bright pink cherry blossom lighting fixtures, which intrigued both locals and visitors alike (you’d be lying if you said you didn’t have a guest in town who wanted to check out La Vie Parisienne). Of course, this only opened the doors further for more people to appreciate wine at such an accessible, unintimidating venue.
You’d think that now they found something that works for them, La Vie Parisienne would keep it at that. As it turns out, this wine cellar, deli and bakery is a stylish space of a gift that keeps on giving. Imagine our surprise when, sometime in December, images of a stunning cathedral-like wine cellar started popping up on the #lavieparisiennecebu Instagram hashtag. We just had to see this for ourselves.
Long gone were the cherry blossom installations—well, some of them anyway (there were still quite a few at the back). In their place was an enclosed industrial structure that seemed to come across as minute yet massive all at once. Inside was a completely different story: Louis Thevenin, Alliance Française’s director, has recreated a European wine cellar cum old hotel in France that narrowly treads the fine line between classic and gothic with his clever use of elements.
New wood panels on the floor were distressed to give them an older look, creating stark contrast with the clear crystals dripping on the chandeliers and the lamps. Chairs—a whimsical selection of loungers, ottomans and everything in between—were made of either brushed steel, leather, or faux fur. The tables were repurposed vintage trunks that Louis divulges were from various antique dealers and furniture shows abroad. Putting everything together was an entire wall of lush greenery—soon to be outfitted with a chimney and a taxidermy of a doe’s head. And that’s only just part of the new expansion. It seems like there’s so much going on, and yet with one glance across the entire thing, everything feels organic.
“It’s a premium look, but everything is affordable,” Louis says before turning to a waitress and rattling off a list of dishes—some old, some new—for us to sample that afternoon. For starters, we had Escargots a la Bourgignonne, a bestseller over at La Maison Rose, what with its ridiculously addicting garlic herb butter. The Oozing Puglia Burata in Arbequina Oil with Mango is a must for cheese lovers, while the Rillettes de Porc with Green Salad and Cournichons was satisfyingly filling. Our main protein source that afternoon was the Honey Tandoori French Duck Breast, with a hefty serving of roasted potatoes—the meat deliciously chewy and flavorful.
We washed everything down with a bottle of the raspberry Fruits and Wine by Moncigale—because honestly, who goes to La Vie Parisienne without getting wine? Certainly not us.
371 Gorordo Avenue, Lahug
Facebook: La Vie Parisienne
Photography by Oliver Echavarria