The History of Maxim’s de Paris
The History of Maxim’s de Paris Maxim’s goes all the way back to 1893 when the little bistro in Paris was opened by Maxime Gaillard, however, it changed hands to Eugene Cornuche who turned it into an art nouveau masterpiece, which went on to become the legend of Maxim’s we know today that is now owned by Pierre Cardin.
The beginnings of Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris
Maxime Gaillard was a simple waiter but with ambition, and he decided to open up a small bistro in Paris on the Rue Royale in 1893, and it was by chance shortly afterwards that a young Parisian women called Irma de Montigny came across this little place.
Irma was charmed and enthused by the discovery of this bistro and she told Maxime Gaillard, I’m going to pop your little cork. She kept her promise by returning with many different friends and admirers and soon Maxime found that his bistro was filled with elegant, fashionable and fabulous clients.
Even though this sounds like a true success story, unfortunately Maxime Gaillard still had difficulties paying all his bills, and eventually he handed over the keys to Eugene Cornuche, who was a successful French businessman.
Eugene Cornuche then turned the bistro into an Art Nouveau masterpiece, which was completed just in time for the 1900 World Fair in Paris, or Universal Exhibition, as it was known. This was created by the greatest artists of the time from the School of Nancy that took two years to restore and transform the venue.
Keeping the name Maxim’s, Eugene Cornuche used to say, "An empty room…never! I always have a beauty sitting by the window." And it was in this way along with the incredible decor, that he ended up receiving the finest of the French elite, which is where the legend of Maxim’s was truly to start.
The in-between years of Maxim’s Art Nouveau Restaurant
A few years later Eugene Cornuche sold Maxim’s, but this restaurant in Paris still flourished and was frequented by many top names such as the novelist Marcel Proust and the French actress and singer, Mistinguett.
Jean Cocteau, who was a novelist, playwright and friends with famous people such as the singer Edith Piaf and the painter Pablo Picasso also continued to frequent this place and by the 1930s Maxim’s restaurant was purchased by Octave Vaudable, yet here, royalty, the wealthy and the famous were still to be seen.
By the 1950s, the Maxim’s restaurant with its Belle Epoch decor was still being frequented by royalty such as the Windsor's, famous people like the film director Max Ophuls, Barbara Hutton who was married to Cary Grant and many different international celebrities.
Then came the time that the place should be renovated, yet the decor was to be kept in the same Art Nouveau style that had become infamous of Maxim’s, and workmen were astounded at the treasure trove of coins and jewellery that were discovered trapped between the cushions and bases of the dining chairs from years gone by.
So with renewed elegance of the Belle Epoch period, the affluent clients still kept coming to Maxim’s restaurant in Paris, which was by this time under the control of the son of Octave Vaudable, who was called Louis Vaudable, and it became one of the most famous, yet also one of the most expensive restaurants in the world.
In the 1970s you had international celebrities like John Travolta, Barbra Streisand, Kiri Te Kanawa and Pierre Cardin dining here, and there was even a scandal appearing in the newspapers when Brigitte Bardot entered this restaurant in bare feet!
Maxim’s Restaurant becoming the Maxim’s de Paris Pierre Cardin today
It was one evening in 1981 when Pierre Cardin was to be dining at the Maxim’s restaurant, the Vaudable family invited him to dine with them and proposed to Pierre Cardin that he should purchase Maxim’s, as they were going to sell the restaurant, yet did not want it to go to into foreign hands.
A rich Asian was going to purchase the venue, but they were exceedingly upset by the thought of it changing dramatically, and even though Pierre Cardin was slightly drunk by the end of the evening, he listened to their plight and agreed to purchase Maxim’s.
In fact, it was the following day, that even though he may not have been completely one hundred percent after the evening before, he honoured the agreement and his word, and Pierre Cardin purchased Maxim’s.
So, from the 1980s, Pierre Cardin gave Maxim’s a new radiance and lease of life to the international jet set, but still kept the same Art Nouveau style that he was so passionate about and loved so dearly.
And over the years, he started to multiply the number of events that were organised at Maxim’s, plus he decided to install an authentic 1900s cabaret venue and create the Maxim’s Musee Art Nouveau Museum on the upper floors of the building that housed the restaurant.
This has meant that the legend of Maxim’s not just continued, but it became an even more internationally recognised name, with other restaurants opening up around the world in places such as China and now this restaurant is called the Maxim’s de Paris in order to differentiate between the different venues.
In fact, there is also a Maxim's boat now that is moored by the famous landmark in Paris of the Eiffel Tower, which is also decorated in an Art Nouveau style, many of the items also coming from the collections that Pierre Cardin collected.
Plus a new addition of a boat moored close to the impressive and very historical Notre Dame Cathedral is also available for private functions, not forgetting there is now a boutique in the 18th Arrondissement in the Montmartre area and a brasserie on the same street as the original gourmet restaurant in Paris.