Café De Paris Attractions, London 1920s
The Café De Paris in London opened in 1924 and became England’s smartest and most exclusive establishment where wealthy patrons came to dine, dance and socialise.
This beautifully-drawn vintage menu cover in red and black reflects the Art Deco era.
For fans of the TV series Downton Abbey, the Café de Paris would have been the location where the fictional aristocrat Lady Mary Crawley and her sister Lady Edith, dressed up in all their finery, dined with their suitors.
The fashionable nightspot quickly became a gathering place for European High Society. The Prince of Wales was a regular here and brought his many wealthy friends. It was also a favorite of the Aga Khan and the Mountbatten family. There was lunch and dance teas in the afternoon, complete with a full orchestra. After dinner, there were theatrical revues, dancing and a cabaret.
In the 1930s, the legendary American composer Cole Porter who wrote such masterpieces as I Get A Kick Out of You and Night and Day regularly travelled over from his home on the Left Bank in Paris to meet friends here, showcase new songs and perform for patrons.
During World War II, many theatres and cinemas in London closed but the Café De Paris was one of the establishments that stayed open. Thought to be a safe-haven because it was housed in a basement, people came here throughout The Blitz to dance waltzes or the jitterbug and to forget about the rigours of rationing and blackouts.
In 1941, the area of London around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square was strafed by bombs, and a German pilot dropped two bombs that crashed through the roof of the building, hurtled down a ventilation shaft and exploded on the dance floor. Some 80 people – patrons, staff and members of a swing band – were killed or injured. People reportedly poured champagne on wounds to clean them. Buckingham Palace was also hit on the same night.
The Café de Paris eventually re-opened and has continued its reign as a fashionable nightspot ever since.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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