The Etched Mirror Salons of Laperouse Restaurant – Paris, France - Atlas Obscura

The Etched Mirror Salons of Laperouse Restaurant

Where the high court feasted, frolicked, and high courtesans put their royal lovers' diamonds to the test. 


Opened in 1766 in an elegant mansion with a view of l’Ile de la Cite, Laperouse restaurant is probably one of the most prestigious restaurant reservations in Paris, and a triumph in terms of French cuisine.

Opened by King Louis XV’s personal lemonade manufacturer M. Lefevre in the 19th century, the restaurant was an active crossroads of merchants, senators and towering figures of literature, as well as other wealthy gentlemen. These pillars of the community gathered not only for gastronomic bliss and unlimited champagne supplies, but for the architectural quirk that the Maison Laperouse offered, making it infamous for decades.

The story goes that “limonadier” Lefevre, concerned for the customers’ lack of safety on the street, transformed the first-floor maids’ rooms into private salons so that customers could – at a time where all monetary exchange was in cash – count out their golden coins without being seen.

Soon, however, the six sumptuous parlors were hijacked from their original functions when, seeking a different type of privacy, the high society locked itself in with courtesans, cocottes and other filles de joie. Evolving into a sort of boudoir where fantasies of all persuasions where taking place, Laperouse became a gourmet cathedral were flesh was both eaten and caressed, kissed and cooked.

Nowadays the salons are still accessible – a bell is still used to call the waiter, who will always cough discreetly before making an entrance. In each room, the mirrors still bear hundreds of strange scratch marks. It is said that courtesans, afraid of being scammed by their married lovers, used the glass surfaces to verify the authenticity of their freshly offered diamonds by scratching them on the mirrors of the parlors.

Know Before You Go

Metro : Saint Michel

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January 18, 2013

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