The Salon du Panthéon – a Paris restaurant designed by Catherine Deneuve!

Oh, you don’t know who Catherine Deneuve is? Oh dear. Well, she’s a French film star/national icon, but her latest offering isn’t a film, it’s a restaurant, and it’s rather nice…

photos : jasonw

There’s something good and bad about secrets in Paris. Bad because sometimes only the ‘happy few’ know about some things. Good because it’s nice to go help people discover things they don’t yet know about. The Salon du Panthéon is one Paris’ latest open secrets. Open because its been getting press all over the place (especially after winning a Fooding award, as we previously reported), secret because from the street you wouldn’t even know it was there.

The Salon du Panthéon is actually on the top floor of the Cinéma du Panthéon (which just happens to be 30 seconds from our lovely little Hôtel de la Sorbonne). You go into the cinema reception area, climb the stairs as if you were going to the balcony, and instead of going into the the cinema itself you climb up a further set of stairs and arrive in an expansive room with widely-spaced tables and sofas. With 150m2 and a 35m2 terrace, it looks more like someone’s designer lounge than a restaurant.

This is actually not by chance. Catherine herself worked with designer/decorator Christian Sapet in order to choose the retro furniture, low tables and lush rugs that give the place such a cosy feel (helped, by the way, by waitresses who couldn’t be nicer). All of which is fine and dandy, but how’s the food?

Well, the Salon du Panthéon doesn’t try to be a gourmet palace. Rather, it has a short list of simple ingredients, served with two accompaniments of your choice. We went for the salmon with lentils and Parmesan courgettes, and the tortilla with courgettes and cabbage. They were both a great success, tasty – perhaps a little salty – but served with crispy lettuce hearts we were really happy with them.

Dessert did not disappoint either. The clafouti was sweet, not stodgy, and the apple crumble was delicious (despite looking like a bowl of slop!).

With the restaurant’s ultra-laid back atmosphere, we were tempted to stay all afternoon (the free wi-fi internet access helped too), and in summer the terrace is sure to be a real delight. If you though it was going to be stuffy, think again. We heartily recommend a visit.

Here’s all the essential information for Le Salon du Panthéon

Where: above the Cinéma du Panthéon, 13 rue Victor-Cousin, Paris 5th arrondissement, métro Cluny – La Sorbonne (line 10).
Opening hours: weekdays only from 12.30-2.30pm and as a salon de thé until 6pm
Tel. : +33 (0)1 56 24 88 80

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