"Once a simple open-air café with flowered arbours, La Closerie des Lilas became the meeting place for cosmopolitan creatives."

At the end of the nineteenth century, La Closerie was a coaching inn on the road to Fontainebleau and it was the first of the many cafés that made the quartier of Montparnasse famous. Its glorious reputation was a result of its proximity to the bal Bullier, which was at the time the most famous ballroom in Paris. Built in the midst of a garden of lilacs, the whole of Paris hastened to dance the quadrille in that setting worthy of the Thousand and One Nights. The middle classes mixed heedlessly with penniless artists, luscious dancing girls and spellbound anonymous individuals. La Closerie became the gathering place for before and after the ball, Emile Zola brought his friend Paul Cézanne, Théophile Gautier and the Goncourt brothers were regulars. The tone was set.

At the beginning of the century, Paul Fort walked through the door of La Closerie des Lilas and settled in. He could often be seen playing chess with Lenin on the terrace.
Paul Fort was a prince, the prince of poets, so he was following in the footsteps of another habitué of that place, Paul Verlaine. Every Tuesday in the large ground-floor salon he gathered around him the men of letters who were his friends. Together they challenged each other’s opinions, exchanged poems and read poetry to the group. Apollinaire joined them and introduced them to Alfred Jarry, the creator of pataphysics. They still remember the day when Jarry sat next to a ravishing woman with a rather cold expression and, tired of being ignored, drew his gun and fired into the mirror opposite, saying “Madam, now that the ice is broken, let’s talk!”.
These meetings very soon grew beyond their simple setting in Montparnasse, the painters of the Le Bateau-Lavoir mixing admirably with the wordplays of the poets of La Closerie.
The Closerie Tuesdays became the international meeting-place of ideas.

Meanwhile Paul Fort, Moréas and Salmon created the literary magazine Vers et Prose, a monument to French writing. Vers et Prose published work by illustrious names: Maeterlinck, Stuart Merrill, Barrès, Gide, Maurras, Jules Renard, Apollinaire.

In 1922, at La Closerie des Lilas, an argument between Tristan Tzara and André Breton marked the end of the Dada movement in Paris.
Whether or not La Closerie was the stage on which the fate of Dadaism was sealed, it soon became the setting where the scandal of surrealism erupted in the most dramatic manner.
In America, there was prohibition. In Europe, you could drink in peace and life was not so expensive. La Closerie became one of the favourite spots of the American community. Hemingway , Fitzgerald, Miller, and others...
“There was no good café nearer to where we lived than La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafés in Paris. It was warm there in winter; in spring and autumn, the terrace was so pleasant...” (Hemingway)

From all over the world bards of Classicism, devotees of Surrealism, the prince of Cubism, ensured the renown of La Closerie.
La Closerie des Lilas became the scene of the liveliest ideas of its time.
Throughout a century and a half, all the greatest poets, all the the best minds, all the talents in the arts, came there to reconstruct the world in line with their unbounded imaginations.
Modigliani, Paul Fort, André Breton, Aragon,Van Dongen, Picasso, Jean-paul Sartre, André Gide, Paul Eluard, Oscar Wilde, Beckett, Man Ray, Ezra Pound and so many others...

Years have gone by, generation after generation, but the tradition of the Arts persists at La Closerie.

"Once a simple open-air café with flowered arbours, La Closerie des Lilas became the meeting place for cosmopolitan creatives."