102 Boulevard du Montparnasse
On the 20th of december, 1027, an opening ceremony took place on the Boulevard du Montparnasse. A night not to miss for the Montparnos: the opening of the restaurant the Coupole. the Coupole, this name sounds like an echo to the other cafés around: the Dôme and the Rotonde, both had the ambition to be the best restaurant in Paris. For two years now, Paris had been living in the Art Déco style. Soon, the Coupole had to become the symbol of this new trend and its geometrical shapes, by opposition to the round lines and arabesques of the Art Nouveau movement. The jewels of the Coupole is its huge room sprinkled with 33 pillars all covered with marble imitation and its pilasters, each decorated by an artist, together with the renowned lamb curry of the restaurant. For the opening ceremony, the 1200 bottles of Mumm’s champagne weren’t enough to satisfy the thirst of the 3000 guests. Among those guests, were people from the art world and their models, people from the literary world, and also the Parisian nightlife scene and all the ones who wanted to be a part of those who shine. All met there on this decembre, 20th, 1927. Since then, nothing really changed in the Coupole. Less artists, more tourists, just like anywhere else, but the place still is this temple of Art Déco, and never got empty. From its first days, it became the canteen of artists like Jean Cocteau and Louis Aragon, of whom we say that he left the opening ceremony in the early morning in a police van. All the artists from the roaring twenties, the “Montparnos”, who lived in the neighborhood, rapidly adopted this place: Man Ray, Henri Miller, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, James Joyce, who rather frequented the bar where he could cough up the whiskey, Ernest Hemingway, who might have participated to the freeing the Coupole in august 1944 with the Second armored division (by then, the war had stopped the party but it started again as soon as the war was over, probably thanks to Ernest, though), Mistinguett, Joséphien Baker who used to come to the Coupole with her female cheetah Chiquita terrorizing the other guests, Pablo Picasso, Kiki de Montparnasse who bathed naked on the luminous bowl in the middle of the restaurant… Then, a new wave of artists fills the tables of the restaurant again: Georges Simenon, André Breton, Albert Camus who used to sit on the table number 149 and who celebrated there his Nobel Prize, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Yves Montant, Édith Piaff, Coluche who met there his future wife, Renaud who used to beg for money on the terrace in 1973, Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, and today, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jacques Higelin who was part of the regular customers who used to meet at table number 70, Ionesco who used to have dinner at table number 34, Amélie Nothomb… As you can see, it seems quite impossible to draw up the full list of all the artists who came and tasted the famous lamb curry from the Coupole. Since 1988, the Coupole is registered on the Historical Monuments inventory. So, do not hesitate and follow Renaud’s advices.
Quand vient le soir, j’aime aller boire
Un verre d’alcool à la coupole,
Pour faire du gringue à toutes ces dingues,
A toutes ces folles bien trop frivoles.
Toutes les idoles, de la Coupole,
Les midinettes, les gigolettes,
Les carolines en crinolines,
Ne sont en fait que des starlettes.
Le Dingo Bar - Now : Auberge de Venise.
10, rue Delambre – Montparnasse – Paris.
During the interwar years, the Dingo was one of the pubs where the artistic bohemian from Montparnasse used to meet. Located in one of the most popular streets for the roaring twenties artists, its most regular client probably was Ernest Hemingway. He was indeed a barfly in quite a lot of cafés in Paris. One wonders when he could find the time to writing! Anyway, the Dingo has been immortalized by the writer in “Paris is a moveable feast”, for it is at this particular counter that he met Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Let’s reenact the scene: Ernest Hemingway is installed on a stool at the counter. Fitzgerald enters the bar, walks towards him and introduces himself and a friend of him, Dunc Chaplin (baseball player at the time). The three men then share a bottle of champagne, as Scott soliloquizes about Ernest’s writing talents. Hemingway, a bit embarrassed, starts to study Fitzgerald’s appearance. They order another bottle, and Scott finally asks Ernest a question… Let’s be curious and get a little closer to the counter:
‘Ernest’, he said. ‘You don’t mind if I call you Ernest, do you?’
‘Ask Dunc’, I said.
‘Don’t be silly. This is serious. Tell me, did you and your wife sleep together before you were married?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘What do you mean, you don’t know?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘But how can you not remember something of such importance?’
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘It is odd, isn’t it?’
‘It’s worse than odd’, Scott said. ‘You must be able to remember’
‘I’m sorry. It’s a pity, isn’t it?
‘Don’t talk like some limey,’ he said. ‘Try to be serious and remember.’
‘Nope,’ I said. ‘It’s hopeless.’
Paris is a moveable feast – Ernest Hemingway.
One says that is where Ernest Hemingway, being a cocktail connoisseur, found the recipe of the “Long island iced tea”.
Today, the Dingo Bar has changed its name and is now called “L’auberge de Venise”. It became an Italian restaurant. But the old wooden counter is still here, in memory of these crazy years.
Restaurants in Paris
Le Perroquet Vert
7, rue Cavallotti
This restaurant located in Montmartre dates from 1900. At the time, it was called “Chez Tonton”. One of the first artists who frequented this small restaurant was the Romanian princess Marthe Bibesco. In 1924, the princess spent most of her time in this restaurant, writing her most famous novel: “The Green Parrot” (Le Perroquet Vert). The exiled Romanian princess in Paris, frequenting the literary circle of the capital, was thus friend with Marcel Proust, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Valéry…
In 1930, the owner of the restaurant decided to call it “Le Perroquet Vert” in homage to the princess. It soon became an essential place in Paris. Jean Gabin, Édith Piaf, Yves Montant, Pablo Picasso and his friend Max Jacob, Fernandel… all became regular customers.
The new owners have managed to keep the spirit of the restaurant. The decoration is a mix between an inn and a pub, with a big fireplace that keeps customers warm during winter, and makes the place very comfy and pleasant.
The Polidor Restaurant
41, rue Monsieur le Prince – St Germain - Paris
This restaurant serves traditional cuisine and dates from 1845, which makes it one of the oldest restaurants of the capital. At the beginning, it was a dairy shop and restaurant: a kind of cheese shop where one could buy fresh milk, eggs, cheeses… Little by little, the owners began to serve small cheap plates. Over time, they specialized and made their choice between dairy shop and restaurant. Today, the Polidor has become famous. It still has its old charm, when the regular customers, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Baudelaire used to come and eat, have a drink and even play cards. At this time, above the Polidor, was the Orient hotel. Arthur Rimbaud stayed some time in this hotel and used to come to the Polidor as a neighbor. One also says that Victor Higo began to write “Les Misérables” there, before leaving to Guernesey. André Gide, James Joyce, Paul Léautaud, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Vian also were regular customers at the Polidor.
In 1948, the Collège de Pataphysique was created. Pata what ?! Follow the link, it is better explicated there. That is where the pupils from the Collège used to meet, and that the new members carry on the tradition. The most famous pataphysician actors were Boris Vian, Eugène Ionesco, Paul Emile Victor, Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau…
More recently, Woody Allen chose the Polidor as the setting for his movie “Midnight in Paris”: the Fitzgeralds bring Owen Wilson to the Polidor, where he meets Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll).
This restaurant is full of stories and haunted by ghosts, but not just any ghost!