Café de la Paix - History and Facts | History Hit

Café de la Paix

Chris Smith

24 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC / Britchi Mirela

About Café de la Paix

Built in 1862 during the rule of Napoleon III, Café de la Paix is firmly established as one of Paris’ most iconic settings due to its stunning décor, distinguished clientele, and proximity to the Palais Garnier opera.

History of Café de la Paix

Originally intended to serve the Grand-Hôtel de la Paix – later renamed Le Grand-Hôtel – in 1862, Café de la Paix was constructed as part of Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s renovation of Paris (1853-1870). It first garnered attention as the host of the 1867 International Exposition, the second world’s fair.

Its prominent location beside the Palais Garnier opera made Café de la Paix one of Paris’ most popular, sought-after spots, attracting many famous faces from the arts and politics including Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Oscar Wilde, and even Edward VI.

First used for film screenings in 1896, Café de la Paix has been referenced extensively in cinema. Marlene Dietrich, Yves Montand, and Roman Polanski regularly used the premises to shoot films, and Paix is also the setting for Disney’s The Aristocats, reportedly because Walt Disney visited the café during his stint as a Red Cross ambulance driver during the First World War.

Paix is also referenced in numerous musical works such as those by Sidney Bechet and Thomas Fersen, and is the subject of impressionist paintings by artists Antoine Blanchard and Éduoard Cortès. The Absinthe Drinkers, a famous work by Canadian poet Robert Service, is also set at Café de la Paix.

Café de la Paix today

The café has undergone several renovations, most recently in 2003 by state-run architectural firm, Bâtiments de France, following the government declaring the café a monument historique in recognition of its sociohistorical significance. In 2020, a further renovation took place which aimed to update the premises without losing any of its soul.

The café reopened in 2021 with its lauded belle époque style retained – fluted columns, coffered ceiling with painted skies, dark wood furnishings, green velvet seating, and Louis XVI-style armchairs.

Getting to Café de la Paix

Located on the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines and the Place de l’Opera, Café de la Paix is a two-minute walk from Opéra métro station, a five-minute walk from Chaussée D’Antin, and a six minute walk from Auber RER station. Come for the history, stay for the food!

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