Michelin-Starred La Tour d'Argent In Paris Served Historic Kings

If you had the chance to take a step inside the film "Ratatouille" and experience the world-class dining experience of the fictional Gusteau's restaurant, would you? As it turns out, you can come pretty close. The restaurant that was the source of inspiration for the film has a long history of serving well-known guests. Launched back in 1582, La Tour d'Argent in Paris is said to be the oldest restaurant in the city, and its doors have seen the faces of royalty and prominence ever since.

When the restaurant first opened back in the 16th century, it was a hotspot for kings and princes because it was a safe location for those of noble status to dine in public (it's located across the Seine River where the king's palace used to be). King Henry IV inaugurated the use of the first fork at the restaurant, which was an up-and-coming utensil only seen in Italy at the time.

On a more extravagant note, four world emperors — Alexander II, Czar of the Russian Empire, the Czarevitch Alexander III, Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, and Germany's Prince Otto von Bismarck — met for dinner at La Tour d'Argent in 1867, feasting on a hefty menu that included five appetizers, six main courses, and four desserts.

La Tour d'Argent gets a makeover

Since its days serving historical kings, La Tour d'Argent has welcomed other high-profile guests like Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Boris Yeltsin. The restaurant became known for its iconic pressed duck, classic and ornately decorated interior, and Michelin-star status. Before 1996, La Tour d'Argent held three Michelin stars, dropping to one that year. To modernize the space and turn things around, the restaurant closed for remodeling between April 2022 and August 2023.

The renovations were put in the hands of architect Franklin Azzi, who wanted to retain the restaurant's historical charm. The recipe for the famous pressed duck remains the same, but the kitchen has expanded into the face of the dining room, so guests now have an impressive view of their meal being prepared. Moreover, there are now three additional spaces for breakfast, drinks, and overnight stays. In the fall of 2023, La Tour d'Argent served its 1,178,727th pressed duck — a numerical symbol of its long and rich history.