History of Procope History of Procope

History of Procope

At 13 rue de l'Ancienne Comédie in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, you will find a truly historic place, a meeting point and gathering spot for the greatest artists and intellectuals: Procope.
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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.

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Original Decoration, Gathering Place for Art and Literature

These fragments of history can be found throughout the décor of Procope: the wallpaper dating back to 1830 and stamped with "Liberty, Equality" reminds us of the birth of the Republic, the correspondence between Corneille and Colbert recalls the great friendships among men of letters, and Marat's bell represents the soul of the French Revolution. Everything in this café calls upon visitors to cherish the fond memories of history: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen from 1789 covers the walls of one of the rooms, numerous original documents evoking the Revolution are hung on the walls, and "Citizen" and "Citoyenne" are respectively inscribed on the doors of the men's and women's toilets. A prominent element of the café is Napoleon's hat, which he left behind and now sits enthroned in the entrance. The roof of the building and the wrought-iron balconies of the storefront are now listed as historical monuments. Timeless, Procope remains the essential Parisian address where media, literary, and political personalities today enjoy being seen.

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