First opened in 1766 as “La Maison Lapérouse”, this distinguished restaurant and bar situated smack on the banks of the Seine is a favorite spot for well-heeled literary and artistic types.
It’s the sort of place where you can spend an evening chasing the ghosts of patrons such as Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert, who frequented the place to write, loaf and meet with artistic comrades.
Orson Wells, Eugène Delacroix, the legendary French actress and theatre producer Sarah Bernhardt, novelists Colette and Balzac are among the other luminaries to have graced the tables here. And Marcel Proust referenced it in his 1913 novel In Search of Lost Time.
These days, you might rub shoulders with publishers, TV anchors or politicians at the recently renovated, classically Parisian establishment.
The former mansion at the edge of the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés boasts a downstairs area complete with zinc-topped bar, comfortable armchairs and grand piano.
Upstairs, intimate private booths create a “boudoir” vibe. Couples or small groups of friends dine on red-velvet divans bathed in candlelight. Some booths have views of the street or the river.
With digs like this, it’s little wonder that it’s often considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Paris. And that’s true in both common senses of the word.
The restaurant was opened in the late 18th century by Lefèvre, who was a beverage manufacturer for King Louis XIV. It served as a wine merchant and restaurant over the next century and a half, frequented by the upper classes and aristocrats.
During the mid-19th century and the height of literary Romanticism, Lapérouse functioned as a salon for many prominent authors and thinkers. Georges Sand, Alfred de Musset, Emile Zola, Hugo, Flaubert and many others were frequent patrons.
Later, the chef-to-royalty Auguste Escoffier took claim of the kitchens at the restaurant, bringing it to a new level of acclaim as a gastronomic site in the capital.
At certain junctures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this was also a preferred place to indulge in illicit affairs– some even claim it surreptitously served at times as a brothel. True, the boudoir-style dining areas and little nooks (or “petits salons”) upstairs make that easy to imagine.
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