What can be more satisfying than dining in a fabulously set up environment that is steeped in history. Well, Paris has it all from the turn of the century era, art nouveau and art deco to modern times the choice is there. Most are happily listed as historic monuments which means that unless permission is granted from the Ministry the original structures must remain untouched. There are quite a few of these historic restaurants and here is just a small selection of some of my favourites. One of my favourite place which was among the few location set for Woody Allen’s ” Midnight in Paris” is Lapérouse with its typical facade that one won’t miss, sitting along the left bank on Quai des Augustins. A secret courtesan’s paradise many decades ago … Intimate and irresistibly romantic, this once popular eatery was taken over in 1860 by Jules Lapérouse who created the famous “petit salon particuliers” on the first floor. The popularity of these “petit salons” seems to have been linked to the fact that according to the French law at the time, adultery cannot be taken into account when it is performed in public places such as in restaurants. Hidden stairways linking the restaurant to underground passages of a former convent and back street were specially made for high ranking officers and politicians allowing to visit these pleasure chambers unnoticed. These “secret entrances” have of course disappeared since, but one sealed wooden door can be seen in one of the rooms … These elegant “salon particuliers” are charmingly decorated with original mirrors, enhanced with a series of flirtatious and seductive style wall paintings which remind me of the 18th century amorous world of Rococo painters like Watteau, Fragonard and Boucher. A particularity are diamond scratches found on the mirrors made by courtesans to make sure of its authenticity – names and signatures dates back from 1850 till the late 1950’s. Regular famous figures include Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo who used to spend his afternoons with his grandson. Lapérouse was also known to the international high society of the roaring twenties at the height of its fame, with grand names like Duke of Windsor, Aga Khan and Princess Margaret on its guest list.
A few steps away from the Gare de l’Est right in the centre of the once popular theatrical world is another famous Brasserie Flo. Once a brewery, the Alsatian style restaurant steeped in its past aura with wooden paneling and wall paintings.
Another of my favourite is the well preserved Belle Epoque style brasserie specialised in seafood is the Brasserie Mollard, artfully designed by the French architect Jean Niermans whose other masterpieces include The Moulin Rouge, Casino de Paris, Folies Bergère and the Negresco Hotel in Nice. Marble pillars with inlaid richly decorated mosaic ceilings show his extravagant taste in blending the Art Nouveau and the Belle Epoque styles.
Another interior view of the Brasserie Mollard …
Another jewel of the Belle Epoque is the Montparnasse 1900, first founded in 1858 today listed as one of Paris Historical Monument.
Another place to try out is the Vaudeville where the charms of marbled pillars and Art Deco style would surely relish your eyes and palate.
The old Maison des Dames des Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones located near the Musée d’Orsay, was originally constructed as a telegraph office in 1905, as well as to house the women who work as telephone operators. Today it is listed as Paris historic monument and is home to Le Télégraphe restaurant.
To be continued …..