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©Saint-Ambroise

1866

With Jules Lapérouse, a new era begins. His ambition : culinary excellence, irreproachable service and a prestigious setting. Highly admired by many of his peers, the new owner’s restaurant becomes a landmark for the Parisian intelligentsia and socialites of the time. Frequented by Georges Sand, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, Alfred Musset, Gustave Flaubert… it becomes a literary salon in its own right. Victor Hugo, one of the restaurant’s most prestigious and regular patrons, would enjoy family reunions over homemade jam and madeleines, the latter being one of his favourite treats.

 1766

 

A lemonade vendor buys a small hotel at 51 quai des Grands Augustins on the banks of the seine. His ambition is to convert the location into a “wine merchant” in proximity to the poultry market. Soon, the aforementioned “limonadier”, Lefèvre, surpasses his competition thanks to the quality of his wine and delicacies. His aficionados and the regular market goers feast in his establishment with great delight — the inn’s success is such that Lefèvre decides to offer the staff bedrooms on the first floor to those of his patrons who are visiting the city : thus, Lapérouse’s petits salons are born.

salonprivé2

It was Lapérouse’s low ceiling which prompted the expression “se taper la cloche” (“to strike ones bell”) as many a gentleman’s top hat would collide with the door’s frame.

Lapérouse is born

The restaurant is officially named “Lapérouse”, in homage to its owner but also to the great navigator Jean-François Laperouse. Meanwhile, Escoffier is named chef of the kitchen. Thus follows Lapérouse’s golden age. The man know as both the “king of chefs” and “the king’s chef” ,strives to make Laperouse one of France’s best dining rooms. Lapérouse continues to be one of Paris’ most illustrious locations, now welcoming entrepreneurs, politicians and well-established businessmen. A haven where its patrons find friends, celebrations but also tranquility.

The private salons become a love nest for senators and their mistresses, the “cocottes”, whose mirrors would serve as a surface to scratch and verify the quality of the diamonds they were gifted. Lapérouse became the restaurant where one could unwind behind closed doors, far from the Parisian crowds. Amongst its famous “cocottes”, Caroline Otero and Liane de Pougy, renowned for their antics during the Belle Époque, were fashioning the capital’s erotic lore. It is also believed that the senators would meet their lovers via a secret underground passage…

The years go by — the Second Empire, the Third Republic, the Occupation… — as do the famous clients, the salons however prevail. Eugène Delacroix, Hector Berlioz, Sarah Bernhardt, Orson Welles, Wallis Simpson, François Mitterrand… Legend has it that Serge Gainsbourg met Jane Birkin here. Much said, yet little talk… secrecy is the salons’ golden rule. Lapérouse also becomes a place for artistic expression. Offenbach would come to seek inspiration for his Parisian compositions. Colette’s novel “Chatte” was written at one of its tables. Balzac used the restaurant as an inspiration for his serial novel La Maison Nucigen in 1837 and Woody Allen chose the location for his film “Midnight in Paris”… Lapérouse is an endless well of inspiration.

Lapérouse

« On some days, instead of staying at home, he would go for luncheon to a restaurant not far off to which he has once been attracted by the excellence of its cookery, but to which he now went only for a reason, at once mystical and absurd, what others call “romantic”; because this restaurant (which, by the way, still exists) bore the same name as the street in which Odette lived: Lapérouse. » 

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, 1906

51 QUAI DES GRANDS AUGUSTINS, PARIS 6ÈME

Reservations: +33 (0)1 43 26 68 04 or restaurant@laperouse.com or click here to reserve online

Open from Tuesday to Friday from 12:30 to 14:00 and 19:00 to 22:00

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