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The facade of Maxim's Restaurant
Maxim's is the name of a restaurant in Parismarker, Francemarker, located on the rue Royalemarker. It is known for its art nouveau interior decor.


Maxim's was founded as a bistro in 1893 by Maxime Gaillard, formerly a waiter. It became one of the most popular and fashionable restaurants in Paris under its next owner, Eugene Cornuché. Cornuché gave the dining room its Art Nouveau decor and made sure that it was always filled with beautiful women. Cornuché was accustomed to say : “An empty room… Never ! I always have a beauty sitting by the window, in view from the sidewalk.”

In 1913, Jean Cocteau said of Maxim's: “It was an accumulation of velvet, lace, ribbons, diamonds and what all else I couldn’t describe. To undress one of these women is like an outing that necessitates three weeks advance notice, it’s like moving house." Other famous guests of that time period were Edward VII and Marcel Proust. Playwright Georges Feydeau wrote a popular comedy called La dame de chez Maxim ("The Girl From Maxim's").

Maxim's was also immensely popular with the international elite of the 1950s, with guests such as Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Porfirio Rubirosa, Max Ophuls, and Barbara Hutton. When the restaurant was renovated at the end of the decade, workmen discovered a treasure trove of lost coins and jewelry that had slipped out of the pockets of the wealthy and been trapped between the cushions of the banquettes.

In the 1970s, Brigitte Bardot caused a scandal when she entered the restaurant barefoot. Other guests of this time period were Sylvie Vartan, John Travolta, Jeanne Moreau, Barbra Streisand and Kiri te Kanawa.

One evening in 1981, Maxim's owners, Mister and Mrs Vaudable, invited fashion designer Pierre Cardin to dine with them. During the meal, they proposed that Cardin should buy Maxim's at once. It seems that a rich Asian had offered to buy the restaurant and they were very upset at the idea of it being held in foreign hands. Cardin agreed and took over the restaurant. Under his management, Maxim's hosted an increased number of special events, including evenings for the young. Cardin also created an Art Nouveau museum on three floors of the building and installed a cabaret which he filled each night with songs from the turn of the century.

Chefs that worked at Maxim's included a young Wolfgang Puck.


Today, the restaurant and the Maxim's brand belongs to Pierre Cardin. Other Maxim's restaurants have been opened in Monacomarker, Genevemarker, Brusselsmarker, Tokyomarker, Shanghai and Beijing. The Maxim's brand has been extended to a wide range of goods and services.

In popular culture

  • A popular Parisian urban myth has Ho Chi Minh working at Maxim's as a busboy and waiter when he was living as an exile in Parismarker in the early 1920s.

  • The Parisian restaurant "Maxim" is mentioned several times in Jean Renoir's 1937 film "Grand Illusion".

  • Maxim's was also featured in the movie Gigi featuring French actors Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan. The story focused on the effort of two older women to train Gigi, the granddaughter of one and grandniece of the other, to become a courtesan. The movie is set during the Belle Époque.

  • Maxim's is mentioned in the 1970s British television sitcom "Fawlty Towers". Faced with a food inspection, Chef says to Basil Fawlty, "Have you ever read George Orwell's experiences at Maxim's in Paris?" Fawlty retorts, "No, do you have a copy? I'll read it out in court!" Chef is referring to Orwell's 1933 book Down and Out in Paris and London, which gives gruesome details of Orwell's work as a dishwasher in the filthy kitchen of the hotel.

  • Maxim's is mentioned in the short story "The Secret of Lieutenant Villar" from the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office (1903) by British thriller writer William Le Queux.

  • The exterior of the restaurant Maxim's is featured at 1:14:31 in a film starring Peter O'Toole film, "Night of the Generals". Peter O'Toole's character (General Tanz) described it as "An adequate restaurant, very clean."

  • Mentioned in the Ivor Novello song "And Her Mother Came Too" which is performed by Jeremy Northam in the Robert Altman film "Gosford Park".

See also

External links

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