The famous Café-Restaurant in Paris
Read about the history of the Café de la Paix, at the heart of Paris
At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines and the Place de l’Opéra, the Café de la Paix is the figurehead and rallying point for the theatre district. Over the years, it has attracted the greatest intellectuals, artists, politicians and writers. Sitting down for a drink, you join an illustrious list of loyal famous guests, the spirit of Guy de Maupassant and Victor Hugo, the memory of Ernest Hemingway and Emile Zola, and the unforgettable presence of Serge Lifar, ballet master at the neighbouring Opera.
Inauguration of the Grand Hôtel
The Empress Eugenie in person inaugurated the Grand Hôtel on May 5, 1862. After being given a tour of the property, she exclaimed: « It’s just like home! I feel like I’m at Compiegne or Fontainebleau. »
End of the 19th century
Loyal guests included Guy de Maupassant, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola (whose Romanesque heroine Nana perished a few floors up in a room of the Grand Hôtel), Oscar Wilde (who lived in a nearby Parisian apartment at 29, Boulevard des Capucines) and Arthur Conan Doyle (his hero Sherlock Holmes would meet his acolyte, Doctor Watson here).
The Café de la Paix is also where the Prince of Wales, elder son of Queen Victoria and future King Edward VII, loved to admire pretty Parisian women, a welcome break from his duties at the court of England.
Beginning of the 20th century
Construction of the Paris metro and the Opera station (1903)
The Café de la Paix hosted large gatherings presided over by Serge de Diaghilev. The founder of the Russian Ballets was generous to a fault, inviting the avant-garde of the arts to memorable dinners where drinks flowed freely. The restaurant paid the price, literally, since the Russian impresario would often skip out without paying!
The Café de la Paix hosted troops and watched soldiers parade through the Place de l’Opéra.
Parade of July 14, 1916
Ernest Hemingway mentioned the Café de la Paix in his novel The Sun Also Rises. Meanwhile, the 1930s worshipped all that was modern. Everything moved faster, women embraced new-found freedoms, and in California, a certain Patrick McDonald opened his first fast-food stand. The simplified lines of Art Deco style took the town by storm…
While the Café de la Paix proudly maintained its Napoleon III decor, its owner kept up with the times
By opening, next door, the trendy little Pam Pam restaurant. Functional furniture, low prices, less service, clients could take their pick.
Effervescence Opéra square
In post-war Paris, life picked up where it left off, and in June 1948, Maurice Chevalier, Henri Salvador and Yves Montand met at the Café de la Paix to record This is Paris, the first radio show to be broadcast live to the United States.
The famous terrace of the Café de la Paix.
In the guestbook, Henri Salvador left these words to the wise: « Expand your café, and we will finally have world peace ».
The Café de la Paix was a favourite haunt for celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to John Travolta.
The 1980s to 2000
The Café de la Paix was renovated by interior architect Pierre-Yves Rochon in pure Second Empire style.