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©Saint-Ambroise

1866

With Jules Lapérouse, a new era began. His ambition : culinary excellence, irreproachable service and a distinguished environment. Greatly admired by many of his peers, the new owner’s restaurant became 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 became a literary salon in its own right. Victor Hugo, one of the restaurant’s most prestigious and regular patrons, frequently met with his family and friends over homemade jam and madeleines, the latter being one of his favourite guilty pleasures.

 1766

 

A lemonade vendor bought a small hotel at 51 quai des Grands Augustins on the banks of the Seine. His aspiration was to convert the location into a “wine merchant”, in proximity to the poultry market. Soon, the aforementioned “limonadier”, Lefèvre, surpassed his competition with the quality of his wines and delicacies he offered. His aficionados and regular market goers feasted in his establishment with great delight. The inn’s success became such that Lefèvre decided to offer the servant’s quarters, on the first floor, to his passing guests who visited the city: thus, Lapérouse’s petits salons were 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 was officially named “Lapérouse”, in homage to both its owner and the great navigator Jean-François Lapérouse. Simultaneously, Escoffier was named head of cuisine. Thus followed Lapérouse’s golden age. The man known as both the “king of chefs” and “the king’s chef”, strove to make Lapérouse one of France’s best finest dining establishments. Today, Lapérouse continues to be one of Paris’ most illustrious locations, welcoming a host of personalities, entrepreneurs, politicians and well-established businessmen; a haven where many come to simply to meet or to celebrate, all with the utmost discretion.

The private salons became the love nests for senators and their mistresses, the “cocottes”, who used the mirrors as a surface to etch and verify the quality of the diamonds they were gifted by their lovers. Lapérouse became the chosen place to mingle and unwind behind closed doors, far from the Parisian crowds. It was here where its famous “cocottes”, Caroline Otero and Liane de Pougy, renowned for their frivolous antics during the Belle Époque, would write the legends of the erotic capital. It is also believed that the senators would meet their lovers via a secret underground passage…

The years went by — the Second Empire, the Third Republic, the Occupation… — as did the illustrious guests, yet the salons remained. Eugène Delacroix, Hector Berlioz, Sarah Bernhardt, Orson Welles, Wallis Simpson, François Mitterrand… Legend has it that Serge Gainsbourg met Jane Birkin here. So much was said, yet so little… as secrecy was the salons’ golden rule. Lapérouse also became 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 lunch at a restaurant close by, to which he had once frequented for its cuisine, but had now become for the mysterious and absurd reason, which others call “romantic”; because this restaurant (which, by the way, still exists) bore the same name as the street on 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 Tuesday through Friday from 12:30 to 14:00 and 19:00 to 22:00

Saturdays dinner only

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