Bronze appliqué wall lights and white plaster light fittings produce light that invites conversation and the sharing of confidences, in hushed tones, tout bas
Paris’ VIII Arrondissement is delimited by four monuments to French history: the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, with its stone facades, glass vault, and iron and light steel framing; the historical residence where Yves Saint Laurent worked for thirty years, now a museum; the Place de la Concorde; and the Place de Clichy, just behind the Montmartre Cemetery. The district is characterized by the architectural homogeneity of its buildings, which can be traced back to the Napoleonic period.
In 1853, the Emperor commissioned a program of urban redevelopment to Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine region, with the aim of modernizing the appearance of the Parisian city center, all while building new sewers and aqueducts and improving living conditions for all social classes. Over the course of almost twenty years, Haussman demolished medieval buildings that his officials had reported as unsanitary or unsafe, and redesigned the layout of the city. Entire neighborhoods were erased and replaced with avenues, parks and squares – the French administration had learnt a lesson from the Revolution: during a revolt, the enemy will use alleys and nooks to hide and ambush, but won’t stand a chance against an army in open spaces.
Haussman laid out a series of parameters that the architecture of the new neighborhoods had to comply with: same height of maximum six stories, continuity in the horizontal lines of balconies and eaves, rows of dormer windows, to name a few. While at the time the so-called Haussmannian style attracted the criticism of the public opinion, being accused of vulgarity, the new structures proved their sturdiness and survived the French Empire and two World Wars – to this day, they account for about sixty percent of the buildings in the capital.
One of these Lutetian limestone buildings, at number forty-one Avenue Montaigne, houses on its first two floors L’Avenue, a restaurant and bar by Costes Group. Even in winter, tables with entwined cane chairs embrace the circular corners of the building – the cold temperatures aren’t enough to discourage some habituées from having lunch in the dehors. The interior décor is inspired by classic Chic Parisien, en vogue between the Thirties and Forties, flaunting a palette of beiges and earthy shades, nuances like tobacco and ivory alternating with touches of black and taupe. The aesthetics have a neoclassical aura, combining geometrical patterns with retro armchairs and sofas, mirrors and art déco bas-relief decoration on the walls. Bronze appliqué wall lights and white plaster light fittings dim the lights, creating a sense of intimacy throughout the restaurant. The restaurant serves typical French delicacies as well as Mediterranean recipes, reinterpreted with flair: a filet mignon is preceded by an antipasto of burrata and cherry tomatoes, a lobster bisque shares the table with a shrimp risotto.
Many aficionados drop in for a cocktail before dinner – barman Dani hypnotizes them with the swaying of his shakers. The bar on the first floor has the colors and appearance of a theatre, the red velvet counter framed by window drapes à la Cocteau. At the same time, the tables by the dormer windows of the Café L’Avenue provide the entertainment of people-watching: box hedges line the perimeter of this sort of observatory on the traffic and passersby in the Parisian artery of Avenue Montaigne.IMAGE GALLERY
41 Avenue Montaigne