French Les Deux Magots research

In french class, we learned about cafes, and we got paired up and researched about different cafes. Me and my partner were assigned to do research about the cafe ‘ Les Deux Magots ‘ Here are the questions and our answers.

  • Historical background of your café

The café started life in 1813 as a drapery, selling silk and other luxury items. It took its name ‘Les Deux Magots’ from a successful play of that time: ‘The Two Magots of China’.By 1884 “Les Deux Magots” had transformed itself into a wine merchant’s on the corner of St Germain des Pres just as the area was transforming itself into a artistic quarter with the presence of the publishers Grasset and Gallimard and the theatre ‘Le Vieux Colombier’.

In 1914, Auguste Boulay, an ancestor of the present owners, realised the potential of the building’s location. After a refurbishment, the café “Les Deux Magots” emerged, and rapidly became the place to “see and be seen”. Soon, legendary figures of the art world were frequenting the café : Verlaine meets Mallarme, Oscar Wilde takes tea, Guillaume Appolinaire and others have animated debates on important issues of the day.

With the twenties came the exuberance and energy of the surrealist movement and its leading proponents could be found in passionate discussions over a coffee or a drink in “Les Deux Magots”. Then in 1933, after Andre Malraux had been awarded the prestigious Goncourt Prize for an academic novel, a group of enthusiastic writers decided that there should be another independent prize for talent and originality. At that moment “Le Prix des Deux Magots” was born and it was first awarded to Raymond Queneau for ‘Le Chiendent’.


  • Names of the famous people who frequented your café

Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, etc…

  • The reason or purpose for those people to go to this café. Did they have a particular activity going on in this café?

Because people like to go to the cafe for a drink or lunch or just chill and rest

  • Has your café been at the origin of some changes in French society? Has it had any impact on any aspect of French society?

In the decades that followed up until the present day, “Les Deux Magots” has been a witness to the changes in art literature, philosophy and politics.

  • Is this café playing the same role nowadays and why/why not?

Yes I think it is because it is a very relaxing place for french people and tourists.

  • If you can have access to some figures, would you say that the number of cafés in France is generally increasing or decreasing? How would you explain this trend? What future developments can we foresee? Are there any new types of cafés that you are aware of?

I think it is increasing because people like to go to the cafe and stuff, and in the late eighties, a ‘ Les deux Magots’ opened in the cultural centre of Bunkamura in Tokyo as a restaurant and cafe with a french boutique of French products.

  • French cafés have existed for more than three hundred years. What is it that makes cafés still a popular tradition? Explore several aspects of your café and report on its location, its atmosphere, its menu and prices. From your results, what would you say contributes to making it a popular place?

I think it is still popular because cafes are places where people can relax and eat with friends.