La Closerie nowadays

“La Closerie des Lilas” means “Small enclosed lilac garden”. It’s a place, with an enormous charm, calm and elegant, which makes Paris magic. It’s one of the mythical brasseries of Montparnasse neighborhood.  The ambiance of old-world Paris.


La Closerie des Lilas

“La Closerie des Lilas” is located in Montparnasse neighborhood which was, between WWI and WWII, the heart of the artistic and intellectual Parisian life (after Montmartre and before Saint Germain des Prés heydays). On the corner of Boulevard Montparnasse and Boulevard Saint Michel. A bit off the beaten path. Most regulars are Parisians.


A bit of History : 

You can’t forget the richness of its past… La Closerie des Lilas is over 100 years old. It has entertained visitors from all over the world. And many writers and artists met up at the Closerie des Lilas.

Here, you can feel the presence of Hemingway

The only decent café in our neighborhood was La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafes in Paris. It was warm in the winter and the terrace was lovely in the spring and fall,” Hemingway – A Moveable feast

Also the hang-out for : Verlaine, Apollinaire, Beckett, Man Ray, Sartre, Baudelaire, Cezanne, Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, André Gide to name a few.

A revered haunt for the Lost generation writers  : Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway who used to come here to write. La Closerie des Lilas was one of Hemingway’s favorite cafés, where he wrote parts of “The sun also rises here”, and where Scott Fitzgerald showed him “Gatsby” for the first time. Behind the bar, one can find a picture of young Hemingway in an army uniform form WWI.


A warm and cosy ambiance.

A restaurant with a pleasant terrace, a quaint little tree-enclosed patio, a brasserie, and a bar.

The bar : a gorgeous setting, low-lighted, with furniture made in polished mahogany, red-leather confortable banquettes, A brass and chrome bar. There are one-by-three-inch brass nameplates on the corner of the tables with engraved names of literary figures who supposedly sat there. The bartenders are dressed in white jacket. They will serve you a customized cocktail. Live music most evenings and the sunday afternoon too make the place even more special…. and a wonderful Art Deco bathroom. Probably the most beautiful bathroom in Paris  … and a wonderful Art Deco bathroom. Probably the most beautiful bathroom in Paris.                                                        

Practical details :

  • La Closerie des Lilas – 171 boulevard Montparnasse, Paris 6 –  Hours: 12 noon – 1:00 a.m.  Web site :    Tel. : + 33(0)1 40 51 34 50
  • Metro : Vavin (line 4) or Raspail (line 4 and 6) (Both metro stop at about 7 min walk) RER : Port Royal (just beside the Closerie des Lilas), Bus : 38 (a bus stop just nearby)

My advice :

  • a must-go on your visit to Paris,
  • Why not a drink (a cocktail, a coffee, a hot chocolate or whatever) in the gorgeous bar, where the bartender will serve you a customized cocktail if you wish to !
  • When you have a drink , you can have a pastry too. The “assiette gourmande” is delightful (An “assiette gourmande” is an assortment of a few very littles pastries). 
  • Or for a lunch or dinner either at the restaurant (but quite pricey, an upscale restaurant) or the brasserie.
  • After a lunch, you can either go for a walk in the Observatoire garden, (nearby –   ) then the Luxembourg garden (10 minutes walk from La Closerie), or go for a walk in the Montparnasse neighborhood (around Vavin) then to the Luxembourg garden (an entrance nearby Vavin street)
  • … And don’t miss the bathroom, which is really gorgeous ! Beautiful Art Deco style. 
  • The 4 other popular literary cafés/brasseries in Montparnasse neighborhood are : “Le Select’, “La Rotonde”, “Le Dome” and “La Coupole”


Champagne with raspberry liqueur

A former 17th century townhouse

The Cafe Laurent is located in Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood, a stone throw from the Seine, in the Hotel d’Aubusson, a 17th century building.

It’s a bar with an elegant and cosy interior,  furnished in Louis XV and Regency antiques with a large fireplace lounge, just next to the bar and an enclosed patio.

You can attend a live Jazz evening at the Cafe Laurent, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Take a quick walk in the Café Laurent with this 50 secondes video : 

Some History

The Cafe Laurent first opened in 1690. Amongst its customers : Robespierre, Rousseau and Voltaire.

After WWII, in 1947, it was rename “Le Tabou” and became a real legend on the Saint Germain des Prés scene

After Le Flore or « Les 2 magots », had closed their doors for the night, it was the haunt of the existentialists. The intellectuals, the musicians and poets of Saint Germain and Montparnasse used to come to Le Tabou.


©Robert Doisneau

Amongst the regulars : Boris Vian, Jean Cocteau, the legendary jazz musician players Miles Davis and Louis Amstrong, Juliette Gréco, Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret … And also Juliette Greco*, the muse of the Saint Germain des Prés 50s.

Le Tabou en et BlancIn 1948, the cafe changed its style and became a closed Jazz club. The intellectuals left Le Tabou and chose to go to a newly opened club : Le Club Saint Germain (rue Saint Benoit). But “Le Tabou” remained a very popular Jazz club.

In the 80’s, and until the end of the Le Tabou was still a iconic club where people used to go dancing, but on different styles of music (often disco). A club where I used to go. The Tabou closed its doors in the late 90s.

It has now reverted to its original name, Café Laurent and hosts regular jazz evenings. The cellar in the Hotel D’Aubusson is now a room dedicated to seminars

What  did Le Tabou look like ?

Le Tabou was a cellar club downstairs bar. The entrance door to Le Tabou opened directly on Rue Dauphine. Upstairs, there was a cloakroom, toilets and a small bar. Down the stairs, was the cellar club, a beautiful vaulted cellar. There was a tiny stage at the far end, a dance floor and a bar at the other end.

Who is Juliette Gréco ?

Juliette Gréco, a French singer became a symbol of French intellectuals after WWII : the muse of the existentialists (she invent the word. Juliette Gréco is still very popular. 

My advice

  • Le Cafe Laurent is a confortable bar with a wonderful service and welcoming.
  • This is the place to come and enjoy some live jazz music and have a cocktail (cocktails with champagne and many others)
  • The evening you go to Café Laurent, you could take a walk  Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood, an historic, classic and quite sophisticated part of Paris. A charming part of the city.
  • For a private visit of Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood with Ann Jeanne in Paris, a native parisian, please contact me for more details

Practical informationsCarte repérage Café Laurent

  • Café Laurent / Hôtel d’Aubusson – 33 rue Dauphine – Paris 6 – 01 43 29 43 43
  • Opened everyday from 9am to midnight. Métro stop : Odéon, Mabillon ou Pont-Neuf
  • Live Jazz : every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. From 6pm. Music starts at 9.30 pm. Free entry (You just have to order a drink)
  • Drinks from 10 euros.