Wednesday 1 June 2011

The Maison des Célestins: a restaurant for the stars?

Ever dreamed of running your own restaurant in Paris? The Maison des Célestins, a 19th century ruin sitting opposite the Ile Saint Louis, could be your opportunity! New owners the Ports de Paris have just launched a call for bids for parties who are interested in transforming this historic building into a riverside bar and restaurant, and you have until September to put forward your project.

The building, on two levels - quai side below and city side above - is a throwback to a time when river traffic in Paris was mucher denser. Built in 1861, it belonged to the Prefecture de Paris and was used to control navigation in the city.

In theory, the Maison des Célestins is in a great position. With its feet in the water and its eyes on the Ile Saint Louis, it offers a perfect view - if it wasn't for the motorway that runs alongside and cuts it off from the river. Fortunately, the City of Paris has also recently announced that the road here will be significantly changed in the coming years, with traffic lights to slow down the speeding vehicles and a pathway alongside the river.

The building has been empty for several years now, and has instead become something of a canvas for street artists. The suggestions for possible projects mention nautical themes rather than grafitti, so we can expect to see a cleaned up and rather upmarket eating place here in the future. With the Rotonde at the Basin de la Villette also due to reopen as a smart restaurant soon, it seems that all riverside heritage in Paris can only be reborn as a place to eat and drink.

One final question remains at this spot though. A marker can be seen at the top level of the building pointing out the flood levels from 1910. What will happen to the restaurant if the water rises again - as everyone seems to agree is more than probable? The dream location could turn out to be anything but!


Suze said...

I love the idea of restoration-- more so than renovation. Restoring something to its former glory has a romanticism about it that renovation lacks, for obvious reasons.

As for the water levels, this is where renovation would be prudent.

Another unique post. Thanks.

Marilyn Z.Tomlins said...

It's a splendid location for a restaurant as Paris certainly needs one on the river.

PeterParis said...

Well... without a terrace and with the cars on both sides...? I think I will not invest here! :-) (Maybe visit one day?)

Kiki said...

I couldn't see myself sitting in the middle of the traffic jams in front of my eating place....
As for water levels rising; beware! Be afraid, be very afraid!! We bought a house on a plateau and laughed our heads off when we were told that the area is considered as an area with a flodding warning! We laughed about 10 days into moving in; then we were flooded, from above through not properly working equipment, from underneath by the rising levels of the 'nappe phréatique'.... (water table?) I wouldn't laugh a next time but flee the place illico presto!

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