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Living in Paris: The First Restaurants in Paris 0

By Adrian Leeds

Summary: Restaurants in Paris.

I guarantee you none of your best-traveled friends will have found this bargain restaurant before you have...

Last week I lunched with old friend Polly Platt (author of "French or Foe?") in La Griaude, a little bistrot well off the beaten track in the 11th arrondissement. It's our favorite pastime, to find undiscovered bistrots; and this one is thanks to another insider, an American who lives across the street on rue Taillandiers (a one-block-long stretch between rue de Charonne and rue de la Roquette). You'll find La Griaude at number 22; lace curtains in the windows, simply decorated with wooden tables and chairs as if nothing has changed in 100 years, seating for about 20, serving up "specialites Bourguignonnes," and offering a delicious two-course lunch with wine at a whopping 10.50 euro ($13).

Adrian Leeds
For International Living in Paris.
E-mail: Paris@InternationalLiving.com

P.S. The French invented dining out... and the restaurant. According to Warren and Jean Trabant, the original authors of Paris Confidential, the first restaurant was near the Louvre (Le Procope is well known as the first cafe):

"With more than 5,000 restaurants in the city today, you will not find one in the ancient history of Paris. It was about 250 years ago that a caterer with a cooked-food stand defied city ordinances and the food syndicate laws by serving a bouillon soup (which was permitted) so thick it became a stew (which was not permitted). It was the shop of a Monsieur Boulanger and the year was 1765, a time when weak constitutions were fashionable amongst the aristocrats who ate little, complained and boasted the attractive pallor of the epoch. Mr. Boulanger thus called his thick soups restaurants (restorers), as they were meant to be medicinal remedies for the sick. He hung a sign above his shop in the rue des Poulies near the Louvre that read (in Latin): "Come to me all of you who are suffering with your stomach and I will restore you." He was so successful that the laws were changed to allow solid food as well as soup to be consumed on the premises where it was cooked. Thus the restaurant was born.

"Although neither Boulanger's first restaurant nor those of his immediate successors survive, (due to the construction of the rue du Louvre) others opened similar institutions near the Palais Royal, one of which remains today: Le Grand Vefour at 17, rue de Beaujolais, originally the Cafe de Chartres and today a Michelin three-star whose reputation is upheld by star-chef Guy Martin. The most historic establishment within the Palais Royal gardens, Le Grand Vefour has hosted such luminaries as Napoleon and Josephine, Honore de Balzac, George Sand and Victor Hugo."

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About the Author

AS International Living France International Living's France: Owner's Manual

International Living's new France: The Owner's Manual is more than 140 pages of maps, property listings, details on cost of living, health care, banking, residency requirements, and business opportunities...plus contacts for help buying, renting, renovating, starting a business, and traveling in this glorious country. Hot off the presses, it is a complete and current guide to help you take advantage of a special window of opportunity. If la vie francaise appeals to you...the new France: The Owner's Manual can help. Click here for more details or to order.

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First Published: Feb 08, 2004

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