Café de la Rotonde - History and Facts | History Hit

Café de la Rotonde

Chris Smith

24 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Café de la Rotonde

Café de la Rotonde has been a staple of Paris’ café and restaurant scene for just over a century. Founded in 1911 by Victor Libion, it was one of the city’s most popular cafés during the interwar period, particularly for artists.

History of Café de la Rotonde

Proprietor Victor Libion had a very open approach to the artists and creative types who frequented La Rotonde in the early years. Purchase a ten-centime cup of coffee and they could occupy a table all day. If too poor to afford food, he’d allow them to break the ends off baguettes. And if an artist simply had no money whatsoever, Libion would often accept a drawing, holding it until the artist could pay.

These weren’t just any artists either. This was Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Tsuguharu Foujita, Federeico Cantú, Alexandre Jacovleff, and Ilya Ehrenburg to name just a few. As a result, it is said that the walls of La Rotonde were regularly adorned with the sort of artwork that would be the envy of even the most well-endowed museum or gallery.

As a central spot for the Lost Generation crowd of European intellectuals and American expatriates, La Rotonde was the epicentre of new ideas such as a Dadaism, surrealism, and cubism. More recently, President Macron celebrated his first-round victory in the 2017 French presidential election at La Rotonde, a move criticised by many as premature.

Café de la Rotonde today

While artists and intellectuals still frequent La Rotonde, high prices and international fame have geared the café towards tourism rather than creativity. Nevertheless, the café retains its charm, and wears its history on its sleeve with dishes named after famous former regulars such as Amedeo Modigliani and Ernest Hemingway.

The red and gold interior, which matches the iconic sign out front, still imbues La Rotonde with unique charm, transporting you to another world, to another century, when radical ideas were first introduced over the very same tables.

Getting to Café de la Rotonde

Located on the Carrefour Vavin, at the corner of Boulevard du Montparnasse and Boulevard Raspail, Rotondei is a 10-minute walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, and a five-minute walk from the Tour Montparnasse. The nearest métro station is Vavin and the nearest RER station is Port-Royal.

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