NileGuide Expert Says:
A fine meal in a historic setting at moderate prices
102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, Paris, France
01 43 20 14 20
NileGuide Expert tip:
Perfect for people-watching or sharing a plate of oysters
Since it opened in the 1920s, La Coupole's customers have included most of the great names of Paris, including those inveterate café-goers, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. It's said that when not discussing being and nothingness, M Sartre and Mlle de Beauvoir liked to shake a leg in the basement dancehall. Now restored, it rings at the weekend to the sounds of salsa, electro-soul, broken beat or deep house. Upstairs, however, is the place for eating, drinking and discussion. If you run out of subjects, try to spot which of the 33 pillars was decorated by a student of Léger and which by a student of Matisse. You could do worse than order oysters or a platter of fruit de mer from the counter piled with seafood. Highlights of the menu include smoked salmon with blinis and fresh cream, sweetbreads with truffle juice and macaroni gratin, lamb curry. Follow up with crepes Suzette if you want to draw attention to yourself, but since this is the largest brasserie in Paris, you probably won't succeed.