It all starts in: 1893
The legend began in 1893 when Maxime Gaillard, a young waiter, decided to open a small bistro, a "petit bouchon", at 3 Rue Royale, in Paris.. The story could have ended there, if only a beautiful young Parisian girl named Irma de Montigny had never passed by. Wrapped up and enthusiastic about the atmosphere she discovers there, she then says to the young waiter "I'm gonna launch your restaurant ». She will keep her word, and will come, then come back with her friends, admirers and protectors. Maxim's thus finds itself with a fashionable, elegant and brilliant clientele, however, the bills often remain unpaid and Maxime Gaillard gives way to Eugène Cornuché who will create the legend of the Maxim's house.
A priceless decor
Calling on the fashionable artists of the Ecole de Nancy, Eugène de Cornuché will make Maxim's a masterpiece of art nouveau. The benches, the glass ceiling, the mirrors and the woodwork, which are now more than a hundred years old, are all witnesses to the splendours of the past century, which make it possible to consider the famous restaurant on Rue Royale as an authentic museum. Visits are regularly organized to penetrate the heart of the myth and to discover the collection of furniture and objects housed within it.
To get more information about the museum and visits please click here.
The crowned heads, the fortunes and the great names of all Paris at the beginning of the century met at Maxim's: Edward VII, Boniface de Castellane, Marcel Proust, Feydeau who wrote "La Dame de Chez Maxim's", Mistinguett who sang "Mon homme" there, the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, the exquisite Yvonne Printemps, Sacha Guitry and his acerbic spirit, Tristan Bernard, Greta Garbo, Marlène Dietrich...
However, the most prosperous period was the fifties decade.Every night you can see Onassis, Maria Callas, the Windsor family, Martine Carol, the playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, the film director Max Ophüls, the extremely rich Barbara Huton, heiress of the Woolworth stores, then married to Cary Grant. It is the whole of Hollywood that dines on the benches of the main hall, benches that will reveal a treasure when they are changed at the end of the fifties: the workers in charge of dismantling them will discover, amazed, slipped between the backrest and the seat, gold louis, rings, diamonds, rubies, fallen from the pockets of the elegant women in 1900 who never bothered to pick them up, well knowing that the next day, they would receive twice as much!
In the 70s, Brigitte Bardot caused a scandal by entering the restaurant barefoot. Sylvie Vartan will dance with John Travolta, Jeanne Moreau, Barbara Streisand, Barbara Hendricks, Kiri te Kanawa and Pierre Cardin will be seen...
The purchase by Pierre Cardin
It was one evening in 1981 that Pierre Cardin was asked by the owners of Maxim's, Mr. and Mrs. Vaudable, who had kindly invited him to dinner, to buy back their restaurant on the spot. The next day, they had to sign with a fortune from the East, very upset because, if this was the case, Maxim's would pass into foreign hands. Pierre Cardin, slightly exhilarated by the evening, accepted. And the next day, he kept his word and signed...
Maxim's evenings then rival each other in fantasy, Maxim's opens up to the contemporary artistic world which loves its offbeat side and its "so chic" atmosphere. While the trendy people go there in informal outfits, they are aficionados of these frac waiters who offer them a drink in such a stylish way. The karaoke nights have conquered the artistic intelligentsia, which has found itself mingled, all generations combined. The line-up is exquisite from Alexander McQueen to Andréa Casighari, from Jean Michel Villemotte to Sophie Calle, Renée Fleming, Gloria Von Turn Und Taxi. It reminds us of the opening of Maxim's, where young artists such as Cocteau, Feydeau, Mistinguett, Proust and Guitry rushed in.
MAXIM'S on the big screen
Because of its history and unique character, Maxim's has inspired many authors and has been the setting for numerous stories, films or plays.
In the 1950s, Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier shot Vincente Minelli's Gigi, one of the memorable scenes of which takes place in the large hall of the famous restaurant.
More recently, Stephen Frears (the director of Dangerous Liaisons) in his film Chéri or Woody Allen for the deliciously nostalgic "Minuit à Paris" or Danièle Thompson with "Des gens qui s'embrassent" also succumbed to the timeless charms of the most famous establishment on the rue Royale.