Les Deux Magots
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Les Deux Magots (French pronunciation: [le dø maɡo]) is a famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, France. It once had a reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite of the city. It is now a popular tourist destination. Its historical reputation is derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht, Julia Child, and the American writers James Baldwin, Chester Himes and Richard Wright.
The Deux Magots literary prize has been awarded to a French novel every year since 1933.
Origin of the name
"Magot" literally means "stocky figurine from the Far East". The name originally belonged to a fabric and novelty shop at nearby 23 Rue de Buci. The shop sold silk lingerie and took its name from a popular play of the moment (1800s) entitled Les Deux Magots de la Chine. Its two statues represent Chinese "mandarins", or "magicians" (and "alchemists", depending upon one's philosophical point of view), who gaze serenely over the room. In 1873, the business moved to its current location in the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In 1884, the business changed to a café and liquoriste, keeping the name.
Auguste Boulay bought the business in 1914, when it was on the brink of bankruptcy, for 400,000 francs. The present manager, Catherine Mathivat, is his great-great-granddaughter.
References in literature and popular culture
- Les Deux Magots appears in The Chariot Makers, by Steve Matchett, in which the author describes Les Deux Magots as: "the first café in the quarter to be blessed by the morning sun. Its clientele pay a healthy premium for drinking there, it’s only fitting they should be the first to catch the warmth of the new day."
- The café figures prominently in Abha Dawesar's novel That Summer in Paris (2006).
- The café is the setting for a pivotal scene in the 1998 novel The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville. The novel was displayed for several months in the windows of Les Deux Magots.
- In the 2009 novel El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man who Loved Dogs) by Leonardo Padura it is one of the places where Trotsky's assassin, Ramon Mercader, spends time while waiting to be sent to Mexico to complete his assignment.
- The café features prominently in Marco Missiroli's Atti osceni in luogo privato',' about the young life of "Libero Marsell", whose father will be a patron of the cafè and will befriend writer Albert Camus before the author's death.
- The café is the site of an important event in China Miéville's novella The Last Days of New Paris (2016).
- ”Lolita,” chapter 5, part 1.
In graphic novels
- A café with a similar name (Café Deux Magots) is seen in the fictional town of Morioh, Japan in Diamond is Unbreakable, the fourth part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- Several scenes in the 1949 movie The Man on the Eiffel Tower take place here.
- The café features in the 1959 film The Sign of Leo by Eric Rohmer, directed by Gérard Oury, in which the fictional Arab revolutionary leader, Mohamed Larbi Slimane (Claude Giraud) is kidnapped, echoing the 1965 kidnapping of Mehdi Ben Barka in front of nearby Brasserie Lipp.
- The café features in the 2011 film The Intouchables, in a scene in which Philippe (François Cluzet) and Driss (Omar Sy) stop there after a wee-hours stroll along the Seine, meant to ease Philippe's suffering in the middle of the night.
- The café features in a scene in the final episode of NBC sitcom The Good Place.
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