La Tour d'Argent


Europe, France, Paris

La Tour d'Argent (The Silver Tower) is a restaurant in Paris, France. The restaurant's own site claims that it was founded in 1582, and was frequented by Henri IV. However, neither the restaurant nor any cabaret, inn, etc. at that site, nor its supposed founder (Rourteau) appear to be mentioned in any period source and the first mention of the restaurant (as associated with a "Hotel of the Tour d'Argent") may be in Baedeker's 1860 guide to Paris: "Entre Notre-Dame et le jardin des Plantes, au quai de la Tournelle, vis-à-vis du pont de ce nom (pi. H, 7), il y a le petit hôtel et restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, un peu éloigné, il est vrai, mais bien tenu et bon marché (chambre, 2 fr., beefsteak, 1 fr.). En face d'une école de natation, qui a l'avantage de ne pas être encore encombrée et emprisonnée par toutes les ordures de Paris." ("Between Notre Dame and the jardin des Plantes, on the quai de la Tournelle, facing the bridge of this name, there is a little hotel and the restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, a bit out of the way, it is true, but well kept and cheap (room, 2 francs, beefsteak, 1 franc). Facing a swimming school, which has the advantage of not yet being encumbered and imprisoned by all the filth of Paris.") Duck, especially the pressed duck, is the specialty (Canard à la presse, Caneton à la presse, Caneton Tour d'Argent). The restaurant raises its ducks on its own farm. Diners who order the duck receive a postcard with the bird's serial number, now well over 1 million. The restaurant's wine cellar, guarded around the clock, contains more than 450,000 bottles whose value was estimated in 2009 at 25 million euros (£22.5 million). Some 15,000 wines are offered to diners on a 400-page list. The dining room has an excellent view of the river Seine and Notre Dame. The restaurant is owned and operated by the Terrail family. André Terrail is owner and manager, having taken over in 2003 from his father Claude, who died in 2006 at 88. Claude Terrail had run the restaurant since inheriting it from his father André in 1947. In 1996, the arbiter of fine dining, the Guide Michelin, reduced the restaurant's grade from the top three stars to two, and in 2006, to one. The restaurant inspired scenes in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, and received an "unexpected boost" from the film. Tour d'Argent is mentioned by Marcel Proust in "In Search of Lost Time" in the volume "Within a Budding Grove In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower".