by Paige Donner
From about the end of the 1910s to the 1940s Montparnasse was the neighborhood that claimed the title, Place To Be. It’s where Hemingway had been hanging out the most when he wrote his friend that letter saying, “…Paris is a moveable feast.” *[Full quote on the site here].
With the recent re-opening of the 56th Floor Ciel de Paris in the Tour Montparnasse, it is once again the Place in Paris To Be.
Christophe Marchais is still the chef here, having done his Ducasse time in Las Vegas years ago as well as time in Monaco, so the cuisine is consistently as fabulous as it always has been. His methods are to use fresh French produce and choose among “noble ingredients” for the creative flair: truffles, lobster, caviar, foie gras, turbot. Though for the re-opening as of June 2012, he and his Chef Patissier, Baptiste Methivier, added innovative upgrades of a tea-time Bar Millefeuille which features 3 sweet and 3 savory choices each day. A perfect light meal to enjoy with your glass of Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines at the bar with the city’s best view over Paris and the highest point in Europe.
I’ve written about the best champagne bars of Paris for BlackBook and if this one had been open yet after its complete interior overhaul, it would have made it to the top of the list. Not least because it’s one of the only champagne bars in town where you can order a tasting flight of different champagnes, blanc de blancs no less. Look for this on the menu: Dégustation des Blanc de Blancs 22 € (Ruinart, Nicolas Feuillatte, Canard Duchêne).
Another overhaul that Elior, the parent group of the restaurant, has done with the menu is offered a quick lunch for people arriving at the next door Montparnasse Train Station (departure for Bordeaux) where for 38€ you have appetizer, main course and dessert. That’s gastronomic quality fare at dizzying heights over one of the prettiest cities in the world in modern chic art deco reminiscent décor – all for less than $50 per person. It’s the deal of the decade. Signature dish is Lobster soup flavoured with sea urchin stock.
Notes on the décor: all half-tones of ambers and caramel done in sleek lines that feel like 21st century take on Art Deco. Credit goes to Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance who used the thematic of “sparkling” to season his choices. Fall in love with the ceiling lighting, big flat, LED back-lit circles that have you thinking of champagne bubbles and indeed make you feel like you’re floating in a flute of champagne, suspended from the sky, 56 storeys above Paris.
Guess who else used to haunt Montparnasse in her day? Anäis Nin… but we’ll leave that for the bedside recommended reading after you’ve dined at Ciel de Paris.
Tour Montparnasse, 56th Floor, 33 Avenue Maine 75015 Paris
*All photos c. 2012 Paige Donner