If you know the film ‘Ratatouille’, you will probably have the feeling that you’ve seen this place before. That’s correct – it’s the building that inspired the creators of the animated blockbuster. Though the real restaurant looks slightly different, its history is also a good material for a film.
The restaurant, whose name means “The Silver Tower”, is often cited as one of the oldest in Europe. It’s famous for its wine cellar which contains almost 500,000 bottles. During the times of World War II, the wine had to be hidden because of the Nazis’ insatiable thirst. The oldest bottle of Bordeaux is dated mid 19th century; however, even older bottles of cognac are stored here. And there we have the greatest delight of the palate – pressed duck. It is the specialty of the restaurant, which raises its ducks on its own farm. If you order the dish, you will get a postcard with the duck’s serial number.
The owner claims the restaurant was founded in 1582 and frequented by Henri IV. Good advertising is the key to success, but the place’s first documented mention appeared 300 years later. We can’t be sure about royal visits to the restaurant, but we can say with certainty that it’s been owned and operated by the Terrail family for three generations.
‘Terrail dynasty’ began to reign in the restaurant almost a hundred years ago. At the end of World War I, André Terrail bought it and moved in with his famous wine cellar. But the best years came when his son, Claude, ran the business. La Tour d’Argent became the biggest gastronomic attraction of Paris. Though by the end of Claude’s reign the restaurant’s downgraded in the Michelin Guide, its popularity was still at the top level. The current proprietor, named after his grandfather, took over the place in 2003.
The building is located on the corner of the street with the entrance situated right in the middle. The top floor is occupied by a spacious dining room with large windows which give an excellent view of the river Seine and the Notre Dame Cathedral. That makes for a perfect scenery for a romantic dinner.