The restaurant claims that it was founded in 1582 and frequented by Henri IV; it does not however offer any documentation for these or other claims about its history. The Quai de Tournelle, where it stands, was not paved until 1650; before that it was "a slope, often flooded and almost always made inaccessible by mud". It does not appear in a list from 1824 of "The principal restaurants, who are distinguished by the elegance of the decoration of their salons and by the number and the care taken with the dishes found there...:
- Beauvilliers , rue Richelieu, 26.
- Bombarda , rue Rivoli, 10.
- Champeaux, rue des Filles Saint-Thomas, 13.
- Gonpy , boulevard du Temple , 36.
- Hardy, boulevard des Italiens, 12.
- Grignon, rue Neuve des-petits-Champs, 4.
- Nicolle, boulevard des Italiens, 11.
- Rosset, rue de Mondovi, 1, au coin de la rue Rivoli.
- Very, Palais-Royal, 83.
- Au Cadran bien , boulevard du Temple, 27.
- Au Rocher de Cancale, rue Montorgneil, 61.
- Les Trois frères provenceaux, Palais-Royal, 98.
- Au Veau qui tette, place du Châtelet."
In 1852, a metals dealer was at number 15, quai de Tournelle, a hairdresser and a wood dealer at 17.
Baedeker's 1860 guide to Paris describes its current location as "out of the way" in mentioning a restaurant associated with a low-cost "Hotel of the Tour d'Argent": "Entre Notre-Dame et le jardin des Plantes, au quai de la Tournelle, vis-à-vis du pont de ce nom (pi. H, 7), il y a le petit hôtel et restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, un peu éloigné, il est vrai, mais bien tenu et bon marché (chambre, 2 fr., beefsteak, 1 fr.). En face d'une école de natation, qui a l'avantage de ne pas être encore encombrée et emprisonnée par toutes les ordures de Paris." ("Between Notre Dame and the jardin des Plantes, on the quai de la Tournelle, facing the bridge of this name, there is a little hotel and the restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, a bit out of the way, it is true, but well kept and cheap (room, 2 francs, beefsteak, 1 franc). Facing a swimming school, which has the advantage of not yet being encumbered and imprisoned by all the filth of Paris.")
Duck, especially the pressed duck, is the specialty (Canard à la presse, Caneton à la presse, Caneton Tour d'Argent). The restaurant raises its ducks on its own farm. Diners who order the duck receive a postcard with the bird's serial number, now well over 1 million. The restaurant's wine cellar, guarded around the clock, contains more than 450,000 bottles whose value was estimated in 2009 at 25 million euros (£22.5 million). Some 15,000 wines are offered to diners on a 400-page list. The dining room has an excellent view of the river Seine and Notre Dame.
The restaurant is owned and operated by the Terrail family. André Terrail is owner and manager, having taken over in 2003 from his father Claude, who died in 2006 at 88. Claude Terrail had run the restaurant since inheriting it from his father André in 1947. In 1996 the Guide Michelin, reduced the restaurant's grade from the top three stars to two, and in 2006, to one.
- La Tour d'Argent: Accueil>Histoire, retrieved 2 May 2011
- Dictionnaire Historique De La Ville De Paris Et De Ses Environs By Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas Hurtaut, retrieved 2 May 2013
- Annuaire général du commerce, de l'industrie, de la magistrature et de l'administration : ou almanach des 500.000 adresses de Paris, des départements et des pays étrangers 279, 447, 217, retrieved 2 October 2013
- Paris, Guide pratique du voyageur By Karl Baedeker, retrieved 2 May 2011
- Prial, Frank J. (14 June 2006). "Paris Landmark Has Much Experience in Carrying On". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- "Paris restaurant auctions wine from famed cellar". BBC News. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Samuel, Henry (7 December 2009). "Tour d'Argent holds one of France's largest ever wine auctions". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Prial, Frank J. (7 June 2006). "Claude Terrail, 88, Model of a Restaurateur, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- "Travel spotlight". Economist.com (The Economist). Retrieved 2007-09-27.[dead link]
- La Tour d'Argent official homepage
- Step-by-step illustrated pressed duck at La Tour d'Argent
- Tour d'argent in million-euro wine sale, Radio France Internationale in English