Café de la Rotonde

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La Rotonde in 2011.
La Rotonde at night, 2002

The Café de la Rotonde (French pronunciation: ​[kafe də la ʁɔtɔ̃d]) is a famous café in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France. In its official website, La Rotonde defines itself as a "brasserie" and a restaurant.[1] Located on the Carrefour Vavin, at the corner of Boulevard du Montparnasse and Boulevard Raspail, it was founded by Victor Libion in 1911. Along with Le Dome and La Coupole it was renowned as an intellectual gathering place for notable artists and writers during the interwar period.


Frequented by Pablo Picasso,[2] who had a studio nearby, in 1914, when the English painter Nina Hamnett arrived in Montparnasse, on her first evening the smiling man at the next table at La Rotonde graciously introduced himself as "Modigliani, painter and Jew". They became good friends, Hamnett later recounting how she once borrowed a jersey and corduroy trousers from Amedeo Modigliani, then went to La Rotonde and danced in the street all night.[citation needed]

During this creative era, proprietor Libion allowed starving artists to sit in his café for hours, nursing a ten-centime cup of coffee and looked the other way when they broke the ends from a baguette in the bread basket. If an impoverished painter couldn't pay their bill, Libion would often accept a drawing, holding it until the artist could pay. As such, there were times when the café's walls were littered with a collection of artworks which today might make the curators of the world's greatest museums "drool with envy".[3]

Unlike many establishments in Montparnasse, La Rotonde has retained much of its bohemian charm and continues in operation to this day as a popular spot for the Parisian Intelligentsia.

Life in the cafe was depicted by several of the artists and writers that frequented the cafe, including Diego Rivera, Federico Cantú, Ilya Ehrenburg, and Tsuguharu Foujita, who depicted a fight in the cafe in his etching A la Rotonde of 1925. A later 1927 version, Le Café de la Rotonde, was part of the Tableaux de Paris of 1929.[4]

Picasso portrayed two diners in the cafe in his painting In the cafe de la Rotonde in 1901; as did the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovleff aka Alexander Yevgenievich Yakovlev in the similarly titled In the Cafe de la Rotonde. Despite its title, Picasso's painting was created before the opening of La Rotonde; its setting is another café called L'Hippodrome.[5]

Ernest Hemingway mentions the Rotonde[6] in Chapter VI of his novel The Sun Also Rises (1926) in this passage: “The taxi stopped in front of the Rotonde. No matter what café in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde.”

In 1985 Prince and Warner Brothers began scouting out locations for his second movie Under the Cherry Moon, released in 1986. La Rotonde was selected for scenes for the movie as well as the video for the song Girls & Boys by Prince & the Revolution.

On the evening of the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron and members of his entourage celebrated the result at La Rotonde; the move was criticized as premature and complacent, viewed as reminiscent of Nicolas Sarkozy's widely-criticized post-election celebration at Fouquet's in 2007.[7]


  1. ^ "La Rotonde Montparnasse's web site (English)". Archived from the original on 2017-04-09. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  2. ^ Mallalieu, Ben (August 10, 2002). "Art and illusion". The Guardian. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  3. ^ Ehrenburg, Ilya. Liudi, gody, zhizn. Moscow: Text, 2005, pp. 142 ff (in Russian).
  4. ^ La vie et l'oeuvre de Leonard Tusguharu Foujita; Sylvie Buisson, Dominique Buisson, Tsugouharu Foujita; pg. 500, 545, 555, 597 – Published by ACR Edition, 1987 ISBN 2-86770-145-7, 978-2-86770-145-0
  5. ^ European Painting and Sculpture, Ca. 1770-1937, in the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. 1991. ISBN 0911517553.
  6. ^ Hemingway in Paris
  7. ^ "Le " moment de cœur " de Macron à La Rotonde se mêle aux souvenirs du Fouquet's de Sarkozy". Le Monde. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.

Coordinates: 48°50′33″N 2°19′45″E / 48.84250°N 2.32917°E / 48.84250; 2.32917