The Origins of Procope
It was in 1670 that Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a young Sicilian from Palermo, settled in France and started working as a waiter in a small café located in the heart of Paris, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Ambitious, a few years later he decided to start his own business by purchasing the establishment, which he lavishly decorated to attract the wealthy Parisian clientele.
Renamed Procope, the brand-new establishment quickly became one of the most prominent literary cafés in the capital. The greatest writers and intellectuals of the 18th century - Diderot, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and d'Alembert - frequented Procope, which became a true headquarters during the French Revolution. Musset and Verlaine composed some of their prose there, and the "tout-Paris" ended up gathering around the restaurant's tables. Procope acquired the status of the largest literary café in the world, and for over 200 years, anyone who carried a name or aspired to make one for themselves, whether in the world of letters, arts, or politics, frequented it. The greatest legends were born in this café: Diderot wrote some articles of the Encyclopédie within its walls, and Benjamin Franklin prepared the project for an alliance between Louis XVI and the new Republic and is said to have written elements of the future Constitution of the United States there.