La Closerie des Lilas

A great many cafes in Paris boast of their literary lineages, but few can compare with La Closerie des Lilas on the corner of boulevard du Montparnasse and boulevard St. Michel in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  It was here that Ernest Hemingway composed the first draft of The Sun Also Rises, and here that literary and artistic personages as diverse as Apollinaire, Modigliani, Rimbau, Cézanne, Fitzgerlad, Picasso, Dali, Ionesco, Sartre, Wilde, Beckett, Pound, Dos Passos and Stein congregated to write, discuss and drink.  There is both a brasserie and a restaurant, along with an exceptional piano bar with live music most evenings.  And it is a truth universally acknowledged that La Closerie des Lilas serves the best champagne mint julep in the world. 

The atmospheric design is derived from the restaurant’s striking red leather booths, soft lighting, a glassed-in terrace that, in contrast to the openness of most Parisian cafes, is enclosed by shrubbery, and beautiful plants and flowers scattered throughout (la closerie des lilas means a small enclosed lilac garden).  The ambience is romantic, elegant and very old-world (the restaurant dates back to 1847).  Many older Parisian restaurants that are now buoyed by their historicity have tended to let the quality of their food sag.  The cuisine at La Closerie des Lilas, however, remains quite good.  To this day, the restaurant’s béarnaise sauce is one of the finest we have ever tried.  However, this is a still a restaurant whose primary charm lies in the haze of nostalgia that hangs over its pedigreed inner garden and the enchantment of listening to live piano music with a perfectly-made champagne mint julep in hand.


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6th Arrondissement
171 Boulevard du Montparnasse
+33 (0)1 40 51 34 50
Mon-Sun, noon–2:00, 7pm–9pm
    Jean-Pierre Cassagne, Chef


    • Paris
    • French
    • Al Fresco
    • Best Bars
    • Best Decor
    • Best Wine Lists
    • Historic
    • Private Dining Room


    • Zagat : 20


    • Homard bleu aux agrumes, mesclun de salade
    • Palette de légumes de saison, carpaccio de truffle
    • Quenelles de brochet, façon “closerie des Lilas”
    • Blanc de turbot poché sauce hollandaise - légumes nouveaux croquants
    • Belle côte de veau française rôtie, girolles à la crème, pommes cocotte
    • Carré d’agneau rôti, artichauts violets comme en Provence