Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli was a Sicilian chef who in 1686 opened Cafè Procope, which is the oldest restaurant in Paris. The Cafè Procope, in the street then known as rue des Fossès-Saint-Germain-des-Près , started as a cafè where various famous artists and writers decided to drink coffee and eat sorbet, and that’s how the world’s first literary cafè was born.
Anyone who was anyone in the literary world would gather there to debate and exchange philosophies (intellectuals like Voltaire, Rousseau, Balzac, Hugo).
Not all of them drank forty cups of coffee a day like Voltaire, who mixed his with chocolate, but they all met at Procope, as did Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Le Procope was known not only for its delicious ice cream and coffee, but also for its unique ambience with crystal chandeliers , red walls and beautiful lights and it not only attracted visitors from all over France but also from Europe, and remained a major economic and social event until the French Revolution.
Le Procope is now a full-service restaurant, but it is also a part-time museum with each room telling a story. One of the stories is that Napoleon Bonaparte would be made to leave his hat as security as he went out searching for money to pay his bill.
Other stories are the final letters between Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, how Diderot developed the first Encyclopedia, then we can see Voltaire’s marble top desk and revolutionary wallpaper from 1830 and in Le Procope Benjamin Franklin wrote the American Constitution.
Many years later restaurant Le Procope became the haunt of the early Romantics such as George Sand, Alfred de Musset and Thèophile Gautier, the philosopher Pierre Leroux, M. Coquille, editor of Le Monde, Anatole France, and many others.
The area around this restaurant it sits on the Rue de I’Ancienne-Comedie where the former home of the Comedie-Francaise is located and this is the most beautiful street in Paris with gutters, houses, and shops dating from the 18th century.