Last Updated on 26th February 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Situated steps away from the historic Reims Cathedral in the very heart of the old town district of the French city, the Café du Palais is a feast for the senses: from the delicious dishes served up in situ to the stunning artwork on display for all patrons to enjoy, the 1930s café has since become something of an establishment in the city.
A history of the Café du Palais
The café and bistro’s story began during the 1920s with a young man, Louis Millet, who hailed from a family of farmers in Auvergne travelled to Paris to seek out work. Though he attempted to become a taxi driver, he soon turned his hand to waitering and it was there that he discovered his true passion: Millet wished to set up a restaurant of his own.
And thus, in 1930, he moved to Reims in the Champagne region to open his own establishment. Though Millet originally purchased the “Tout va mieux” bistro, together with his wife, he soon turned his attention to the “Cafe du Grand Théatre”, which they swiftly renamed “Café du Palais”.
Though the bistro and restaurant was already a successful business thanks to a cold buffet offering the likes of oysters and snails, the interior was once again to go through several changes over the decades which followed. You see, following Louis Millet’s premature death, Café du Palais was taken over by his wife Jeanne up until 1965, when she handed the family business over to her son, Jean-Louis.
Having studied at a catering school in Paris and having spent time working at a luxury hotel in London, Jean-Louis remodelled the establishment after his own tastes and interests. From seats which originated from the ‘Tour va Mieux’ café to the living room furniture from his grandparents’ home, there’s no shortage of quirky objets d’art to admire and enjoy in the bistro today.
Some particular highlights which you won’t want to miss during your visit include a drawing by Marc Chagall, and late 1920s stained glass by Jacques Simo, which was created after the Art Deco style. Almost everywhere you look, there’s something new to spy: from marble busts to small discreet sculptures, there’s a piece of artwork for everyone to enjoy.
How to visit the Café du Palais in Reims today
Easily one of the best-kept secrets of Reims, the café is undoubtedly one of the chicest and most popular foodie venues in town. Now run by the fourth generation of the fourth family, the Café du Palais is open from Tuesdays through to Saturdays. Though dinner is served on Saturday evenings, throughout the rest of the week, the café serves lunch only.
On the menu you can expect to discover a selection of traditional French dishes (including cheese platters), as well as dishes from the Iberian Peninsula. Of course, if you’re short on time or already have reservations elsewhere, then you can also always pop in for a quick coffee en route to exploring the rest of the city.