La Tour d'Argent

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La Tour d'Argent
View from the restaurant on Notre Dame and the Seine

La Tour d'Argent (The Silver Tower) is a historic restaurant in Paris, France. It is located at 15 quai de la Tournelle. It has a rating of one star from the Guide Michelin.[1]


The restaurant claims that it was founded in 1582, and that it was frequented by Henri IV, but it offers no documentation to support these or other claims about its history.[2] The Quai de la Tournelle, where the restaurant stands, was not paved until 1650, before which it was "a slope, often flooded and almost always made inaccessible by mud".[3]

The restaurant does not appear in an 1824 list 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..." [4] In 1852, a metals dealer occupied number 15 Quai de la Tournelle, and a hairdresser and wood dealer number 17.[5]

Baedeker's 1860 guide to Paris describes the establishment's current location as "out of the way", while mentioning a restaurant associated with a low-cost "Hotel of the Tour d'Argent": "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."[6]

The restaurant was owned in the 1890s and 1900s by Frédéric Delair, who began the tradition of presenting a numbered certificate to each person who ate the restaurant's signature dish, pressed duck. In 1912, the Terrail family bought the restaurant. It was operated first by André Terrail, then by his son Claude, who died in 2006 at the age of 88, and then by Claude's son André.[7]

Since 1986, La Tour d'Argent has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award.[8]

Until 1996, the Guide Michelin awarded the restaurant three stars. The rating was reduced to two stars in 1996, and to one star in 2006.[7]


La Tour d'Argent "Your Duck" serial number card issued on 22 Dec. 2017

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.[9] (Serial number #112,151 went to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #203,728 went to Marlene Dietrich, and #253,652 went to Charlie Chaplin).[10]

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 four-hundred page list.[11][12] The dining room has an excellent view of the river Seine and Notre Dame.

In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway says that the Tour d'Argent rented some rooms and gave its lodgers discounts on the meals; also that a valet there used to sell English books left by the tenants.[13]

La Tour d'Argent is mentioned by Marcel Proust in his novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past) in the volume "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower".[page needed]

The restaurant inspired scenes in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, and received an "unexpected boost" from the film.[14]

The restaurant was also mentioned in the book, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, page 148, as a place where a dinner was held for Orville and Wilbur Wright in July 1906.

Two episodes ('Homard Lobster' and 'Foie Gras') of Iron Chef (a Japanese cooking show) are based on this restaurant.

One episode of Root into Europe (British comedy starring George Cole) was filmed in the hotel, and the duck being pressed is shown and served to the actors. Claude Terrail appeared as himself.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "La Tour d'Argent". ViaMichelin. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  2. ^ La Tour d'Argent: Accueil>Histoire, retrieved 2 May 2011
  3. ^ Dictionnaire Historique De La Ville De Paris Et De Ses Environs By Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas Hurtaut, retrieved 2 May 2013
  4. ^ The restaurants listed are:
    • 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.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "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." Paris, Guide pratique du voyageur By Karl Baedeker, retrieved 2 May 2011
  7. ^ a b Prial, Frank J. (7 June 2006). "Claude Terrail, 88, Model of a Restaurateur, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  8. ^ "La Tour d'Argent". Wine Spectator. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ Prial, Frank J. (14 June 2006). "Paris Landmark Has Much Experience in Carrying On". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Paris restaurant auctions wine from famed cellar". BBC News. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  12. ^ Samuel, Henry (7 December 2009). "Tour d'Argent holds one of France's largest ever wine auctions". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  13. ^ Ernest, Hemingway (2014) [1964]. Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Travel spotlight". The Economist. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°50′59.58″N 2°21′17.60″E / 48.8498833°N 2.3548889°E / 48.8498833; 2.3548889