REVIEW

Café de la Paix

There are many restaurants in Paris cloaked with the garb of history, but few more so than Café de la Paix, which has just celebrated its 150th anniversary. Designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opéra that is located directly opposite the plaza, it opened as part of what was then the Hotel de la Paix. Its walls have hosted an endless stream of famous clientele — Jules Massenet, Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Sergei Diaghilev, Edward VII — along with many other artists, writers, journalists, actors and businessmen. Perhaps most famous of all is the story of when Oscar Wilde, one sweltering summer afternoon in 1898, looked up through the mist after the street had been watered down and, through the fog, saw a golden angel materialize. After a turbulent few moments of upturned tables and fainting women, it was determined that the angel was actually just reflected sunrays from the winged allegorical figure atop the opera house. Thus was Wilde’s nascent future as a born-again dandy brought swiftly to an end.

Café de la Paix’s summer terrace takes in the entire sweep of the bustling Place de Opéra, designed during the Haussmannian redesign of Paris under Napoleon III, and is therefore ideal for people watching. Its location and history have made it unavoidably touristy, but that does little to dampen its charms. The Second Empire interior of the restaurant, with its frescoed ceilings, Corinthian cornices and gilded paneling is opulent even by the lenient standards of Napoleon III. The restaurant has had a string of talented chefs at its helm in recent years: Laurent Delarbre left for La Tour d’Argent and Christian LeSquer left for Ledoyen. Currently, it is headed by the capable Christophe Raoux. Since 2004, a series of famous designers (Manish Arora, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Stanislassia Klein, Chantal Thomass, Agnès b. and Paco Rabanne) have created designer desserts for the restaurant. We think the best ways to experience Café de la Paix are to enjoy a light lunch on the terrace with a cup of coffee or tea or to go for après-opera dinner and drinks when the salons have emptied of tourists and are filled with the glittering hordes of Paris’ café society.

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INFORMATION

9th Arrondissement
12 Boulevard des Capucines
+33 (0)1 40 07 36 36
Mon-Sun, 7am–11:30 pm
    Christophe Raoux , Chef

    TAGS

    • Paris
    • French
    • Best Bars
    • Best Brunch
    • Best Decor
    • Best View
    • Historic
    • Private Dining Room Opera Square: 40 seated
    • Tasting Menu 5 Course Un Parcours Découvert: 82€

    OTHER REVIEWS

    • Zagat : 19

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