We’ve just had lunch at the iconic Paris restaurant, the Tour d’Argent. In short: It was the best dining experience I’ve ever had. And the new renovation job is excellent.
It was a four-course Michelin meal with a view over the Seine, the Notre Dame, and the rooftops of Paris. And it was two-and-a-half hours in Parisian heaven.
We’ve collected seven intriguing facts and figures about the restaurant, which are compiled below with some practical details for your own potential visit.
The Earful Tower podcast episode
In this episode, Lina and I will take you inside the famed restaurant and you’ll hear our thoughts as we dine.
We also discuss our thoughts on the renovation job from 2022/2023. Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts, and scroll down for the facts about the restaurant.
1) 1582: The year the Tour d’Argent was built
The first incarnation of la Tour d’Argent opened in 1582 as an inn on the ground floor. The Tour d’Argent, meaning “the Silver Tower”, takes its name from from the glistening champenoise stone with which it was originally built.
In the 16th century, the restaurant catered toward royalty, aristocrats and nobility, providing a safe place for the elite to dine. Many Kings of France dined at the Tour d’Argent and legend has it was here that King Henry III first discovered a fork, which was at the time the latest sensation from Italy.
2) 1936: The year the Tour d’Argent moved upstairs
In 1922, owner André Terrail purchased and merged buildings 15 and 17 on Quai de la Tournelle, which allowed him to add a new top floor. And so it was in 1936 that the restaurant shifted from the ground floor to the top, allowing a more contemporary design including those enormous bay windows for panoramic Paris views.
3) 16: Total months for the new renovation
From April 2022 to August 2023 the Tour d’Argent had an extensive renovation. The project, led by interior designer Franklin Azzi, brought the restaurant into the 21st century.
The designers added a metallic, “kinetic ceiling”, a carpet inspired by the Seine, and expanded the kitchen into the dining room.
Artist Antoine Carbonne added a modern fresco he called “Perle”, which depicts a medieval-inspired map of Paris that blurs the lines between fantasy and history.
Down on the ground floor, where the original Tour d’Argent was located, is the Bar des Maillets d’Argent. Cafe by day and cocktail bar by night, the bar’s 1930s design pays homage to the last years the Tour d’Argent was located here. Perched on the very top floor is the Tour d’Argent’s bar Le Toit de la Tour, which is a reservation-only rooftop bar.
4) 1,179,385: The number of the duck we had
In 1890 Frédéric Delair codified the recipe for canard au sang (pressed duck), which specified preparation, sauce and service. To maintain the recipe’s longevity he decided to start numbering the ducks served. To this day, the restaurant gives clients an embossed card recording which number duck they received. We shared duck number 1,179,385.
5) 300,000: The number of wine bottles in the cellar
The Tour d’Argent is famous for having one of the largest wine collections in the world. The cellar, guarded around the clock, contains more than 300,000 bottles – with some of the bottles dating back to the 18th century. Of those wines, about 15,000 are offered to diners in the 5kg, 400-page “anthology wine bible”.
Safe to say, we’re not wine connoisseurs. When we spoke about the wine list on the podcast, we admitted to being “first pagers”, and were more than happy to go with the recommendations of the sommelier.
6) €150: Cost for one lunch at the Tour d’Argent
There is certainly a sliding scales of prices at the Tour d’Argent. For €150 (160USD and 250AUD) per person, you can have the four-course lunch (drinks not included). On the other end of the scale is the nine course tasting menu for dinner priced at €1,582 (1,680USD and 2650AUD).
Our four course lunch included scallops, sea bass, roasted duckling, and clementine meringue (see the November menu here). Quite simply: It was the best dining experience of my life. Pure excellence from chef Yannick Franques. You can hear more about the food in the podcast episode.
7) 1: The number of Michelin stars for the Tour d’Argent
The Tour d’Argent was once the proud owner of 3 Michelin stars, but lost one in 1996, and another in 2006. In recent years they have been on a mission to reclaim their stars.
Practical details for the Tour d’Argent
- Tour d’Argent address: 15 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris
- Peruse the menu here.
- Book a table here.
The Earful Tower podcast episode
Here’s The Earful Tower’s podcast episode again in case you missed it, with new episodes every Monday. The next one will be all about “U is for…”. You’ll have to tune in next week to find out what it is.
Do you like The Earful Tower? Become a Patreon member of The Earful Tower here to support this show and get extras (this week including some extra pictures from the restaurant).
Interested in finding more fine-dining restaurants? Here is a list of six classic restaurants on the left bank.