Restaurant That Inspired Ratatouille Reopens in Paris

Tour d'Argent is back in business, overlooking a Notre Dame Cathedral also undergoing renovations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2023 12:32 PM CST
Restaurant That Inspired Ratatouille Reopens in Paris
Clients sit at tables at La Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris on Dec. 13. The restaurant, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in the French capital, has a front-row view of the renaissance of Notre Dame Cathedral as artisans prepare the fire-ravaged monument for reopening next year. The high-end...   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The Tour d'Argent already boasts a 320,000-bottle wine cellar, a world-famous duck recipe, and a storied 441-year history. Now, the legendary Paris restaurant is about to serve up its "plat de resistance": a front-row view of two of the biggest events of 2024—the renaissance of Notre Dame Cathedral and the 2024 Summer Olympics. A city landmark unto itself—and an inspiration for the restaurant in the movie Ratatouille—the Tour d'Argent recently reopened after its own renovation, which preserved revered traditions while adapting to the 21st century. ''It's very reassuring for many customers to see that such establishments are still present in our history, and in French gastronomic history,'' owner and CEO Andre Terrail tells the AP.

The restaurant claims to be the oldest in Paris, its 1582 opening date embossed on the doors. It says King Henry IV ate heron pate here; ''Sun King'' Louis XIV hosted a meal here involving an entire cow; and presidents, artists like Salvador Dali, and celebrities including Marilyn Monroe have graced its tables in the generations since. Today the Michelin-starred restaurant remains one of the most exclusive places to dine in the French capital, out of reach for most. The simplest fixed-price lunch menu runs close to $170, and the most affordable fixed-price dinner is about $400—and that's without even peeking at the 17-pound book dubbed the ''bible'' of its wine cellar.

But the reborn Tour d'Argent offers options for those who want to breathe in its rarefied atmosphere without investing in a full meal, including a ground-floor lounge serving croissants in the morning, an adjacent bar serving fireside cocktails in the evening, and a rooftop bar open in the warmer months, where the restaurant's breathtaking views are on full display. Notre Dame Cathedral takes center stage in this Paris panorama, a construction site like no other. Artisans are mounting a new spire and roof on the monument, replacing those that collapsed in a 2019 fire that threatened to destroy the entire medieval cathedral. Piece by piece, the scaffolding that enshrouds the site will come down over the course of 2024, in time for its planned Dec. 8 reopening to the public. More here.

(More Ratatouille stories.)

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