The story of the most Parisian of restaurants : Maxim’s

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”.


Parisian chic


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.


© Maxim’s


At the end of the 1970s, the restaurant was listed as a historic monument and withdrew from the Michelin Guide. To protect its reputation, the restaurant preferred not to appear in the famous red guide rather than lose one of its three stars.


The Pierre Cardin turning point


Designer Pierre Cardin, a regular at the restaurant and close to the owners, bought the establishment in 1981. His aim? To prevent Maxim’s being taken over by a foreign investor. On the strength of his entrepreneurial vision, the couturier exported the brand internationally and developed licences using the name of the famous restaurant. A museum dedicated to Art Nouveau was created on the upper floors, and parties were organised for young customers. Today, the restaurant has even moved to a boat on the Seine, where diners can enjoy a meal on the water, in a musical atmosphere.


© Maxim’s


This diversification was successful, but damaged the image of Maxim’s. Despite the arrival of the greatest chefs, from Alain Ducasse to Joël Robuchon and Bernard Loiseau, the culinary refinement was no longer there. The restaurant has lost some of its superb reputation and is no longer considered the number one address for glamour. Neither as the gastronomic address not to be missed, nor as the place for all pleasures.

From 2010 onwards, Maxim’s closed at lunchtime and hosted prestigious evenings as the golden youth took over the place to party, without the meal that was once so popular. Criticism is harsh, and eyes turn away from 3 rue Royale in the capital’s eighth arrondissement.


© Maxim’s


At the end of 2010, it was announced that Maxim’s was to be sold. The heir to Pierre Cardin, who will die in 2020, is getting closer to Paris Society, a company owned by the Accor group. The company intends to revive the restaurant as it was in the Belle Epoque, but is up against the fashion designer’s other heirs. However, a reopening is expected at the end of October.


Will Maxim’s, renamed Le Maxim’s de Paris, succeed in once again becoming the landmark of the City of Light? What is certain is that the setting has a sensational history and an aura of its own that could once again shine on the capital.



Featured photo: © Maxim’s

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.


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