While in recent years the splendour of the establishment seemed to have faded, a reopening could restore the reputation of Maxim’s, whose existence is an integral part of the capital’s history.
It all began in 1893. The waiter Maxime Gaillard, who had been working in a nearby bar, and his friend Georges Everaert founded the ice-cream parlour “Maxim’s and Georg’s” under an initial name. A few days after its inauguration, the courtesan and actress Irma de Montigny, accompanied by Arnold de Contades, walked through the doors of this English-style establishment. They were the first of a large number of chic socialites to frequent what the restaurant described on its website as “a gallant meeting place of the Belle Époque”.
The restaurant was taken over shortly afterwards by Eugène Cornuché, who refurbished it in an Art Nouveau style, with mirrors, bronze and leather ornaments, mahogany wood and a piano, and called on the services of courtesans. This world attracted the likes of Jean Cocteau, Marcel Proust and Jean Bugatti. Octave Vaudable took over the establishment in 1932 and introduced ever more elegant standards.
Maxim’s continued to rise over the years, welcoming such celebrities as Maria Callas, Brigitte Bardot, Marlene Dietrich and Barbara Streisand. Now the trendiest and most exclusive restaurant in the world under the aegis of Octave Vaudable’s son, it is the quintessence of Parisian chic.
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Front page photo: © Maxim’s