Nothing but the FACTS, m’am! Don’t believe half of what you read.


Several dozens of entries ago, I mentioned the Blvd. St. Germain cafe, Les Deux Magots. It’s one of the Left Bank landmarks for a number of reasons. Oscar Wilde drank absinthe here. The poets Rimbaud, Mallarme and Verlaine were just a few of the literary greats who frequented the cafe. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to bump into other tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of fashion models – or maybe Catherine Deneuve who lives in the neighborhood.
Visitors invariably ask me about the meaning of the cafe’s name: Les Deux Magots.
In an earlier entry, I had mentioned that the word ‘magot’ was the name for Chinese porcelaine figurines – actually the book I read had said ‘ugly’ porcelaine figurines. Les Deux Magots was the name of the shop that preceded the cafe – and that they sold such figarines.
I wasn’t very happy with that explanation and decided to continue reading about Les Deux Magots history and here is what I’ve found to date.
Ellen Williams writes in The Historic Restaurants ofParis;http://www.littlebookroom.com/histrestparis.htmPublisher The Little Book Room, NY (book-room@rcn.com) that the cafe derived its name Les Deux Magots from an emporium of the same name that preceded the cafe. The name was based on a popular play of the day called Les Deux Magots de la Chine or Two Figurines from China by Michel Sevin written in 1812.
AtAbout.com I learned that the emporium sold silk. The emporium relocated to Place St. Germain in 1873 and was replaced by a cafe-liquoriste nine years later(according to Williams).
Two wooden statues of Confucian wise man remain in the main room of the cafe. (I haven’t had coffee at the Deux Magots for several years. It’s expensive and there are better places for people watching but if you like your coffee served up in style and you’re hoping to gain some poetic inspiration from another time, maybe you’ll want to sop up the ambience at Les Deux Magots, 170 Blvd. Saint Germain, 6eme. Metro: St. Germain-des-Pres

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