Wonderfully located at the tip of the Île Saint-Louis, in front of Notre Dame de Paris, La Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis welcomes you in its warm décor, typical of the Parisian brasseries of the thirties.
As early as the nineteenth century, the location of the Brasserie housed a restaurant which was successively called "La Taverne du Pont-Rouge", and "L'Oasis"; then it was renamed in 1953 to its current name by Paul and Marthe Guépratte who knew how to elevate it to the rank of Parisian institution.
A family business successively managed by three generations since the 50's, La Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis is still held by the same family. It endeavours to perpetuate the tradition and maintain with passion and regularity the spirit of this "old lady" that saw sit down at its table several generations of political, artistic or literary personalities, without ever succumbing to the lure of fashion. It retains its old customers; some of them even remember the early days of the spouses Guépratte in 1953 (!), whose descendants make sure that ancestral traditions are respected.
Among the last great Parisian brasseries that have maintained their independence, La Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis has kept its authentic soul and unique character. It remains, against all odds, a timeless place. Its traditional French cooking remained true to its culinary savoir-faire: fresh, high quality and meticulously selected foodstuffs. Of course, the frozen industrial preparations are excluded! Our dishes are homemade, simmered and cooked with loving care in the hands of the chef and his "brigade de cuisine" (kitchen staff).... From the very first sunny days, the terrace welcomes you under its eternal golden and red awnings to enjoy the gentle pleasures of life in Paris and its panoramic view of the Seine, the left bank and the Pantheon.
To savour the dish of the day, a rib steak or a sole meunière, feast on cassoulet or sauerkraut accompanied by a mug of Mützig and, in the spring, enjoy the terrace with curly endive and diced bacon, a Baltic herring, a leek in French dressing, a steak tartare or an ice cream from the Maison Berthillon, the staff of the Brasserie will welcome you warmly throughout the year.
You would find yourself – without hurting your conteporaries, of course – hoping that the curse of the Pont-Rouge ("the Red Bridge") strikes again to protect this haven of good taste from the ocean of tourists submerging the heart of old Paris. The Pont-Rouge indeed collapsed so many times – 6! – that no one tried to rebuild it thereafter; as for La Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis, it is still as fit as a fiddle.
Fan of simplicity, the place was called La Taverne du Pont-Rouge ("The Tavern of the Red Bridge"), well over a century ago, spreading in front of the River Seine a terrace which is still one of the most cozy of the capital. The Tavern went for some time by the sweet name of L'Oasis ("The Oasis"); the business belonged to a Mr Lauer, a staunch Alsatian who served cabbage, sausage and beer to a bohemian clientele, probably chasing the ghost of Baudelaire.
One evening in 1953, Paul Guépratte, personal chef of the Duchess of Windsor, whose pied-à-terre in Paris was nearby, heard that Lauer threw in the towel. The deal was concluded with a handshake over the wooden bar, which still supports a sumptuous coffee machine from another age. Two generations later, another Paul Guépratte is the cashier, while his mother and his grandmother swallow a blanquette with a cup of Champagne in the nearly seaside glow of a winter lunch.... A family business... and a regular clientele joined together. Liz Taylor and Natalie Wood dined at the Brasserie with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Bardot felt so good here that she even gave the boss a small dog named Baby. And she never found anything wrong with good meat savoured on the antique wooden tables, comfortably settled on timeless red moleskin.
The Seine reflects a soft light that bathes the two rooms, ochre mosaic floor and beige ceiling. White and warm at the end of the morning, a pearly river at twilight, at the cocktail hour.
Time passes, nothing changes. The Brasserie was also called Le Café des Sports ("The Sports Bar"). A Gavin Hastings picture reminds that the Brasserie is a rugby Mecca and when the Scottish thistle plays against the Gallic rooster, hordes of kilts land on the Île Saint-Louis and the old walls resound with their songs. Year after year, sauerkraut after cassoulet, riesling after chablis, match after match, the family grows.