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04 March 2009

Adieu La Goulue


Mark your calendars - you have until April 5th to get yourself to one of the last bastions of the neo-Swan set, La Goulue. This weekend I said my farewells with a long, boozy lunch of steak tartare and frites, but you might say yours with the raved-about cheese souffle.

Bask in the warm glow thrown from the Louis Majorelle sconces and the dark paneled walls while you gaze surreptitiously at the other diners in the dark oxidized mirrors. Although the management hope to reopen in a new location eventually, chances are they won't be able to recapture the gilded-age aura of the original.


Of course the original La Goulue harks back not to the 1970s but to the dance halls of Belle Epoque Paris. Born Louise Weber to a washerwoman, "The Glutton" came to rule the Paris nightlife with her dazzling can-can and audacious practice of stealing patrons' cocktails while performing (hence the nickname).
The Queen of Montmarte also buffeted her earnings by posing as an artist's model, most famously for Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.
But as it seems with all of the bright stars of the night, this one burned fast, furious and then out. By her fifties, she was depressed, destitute, and prone to the bottle. She died at the age of sixty-three and lies buried in Montmartre.