Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Ox-Tale Soup"

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

The title says it all: quirks and curiosities. And as luck would have it, Paris is packed with them; you just have to know where to look!

In this on-going series I offer you some hand picked, photographed and commented oddities which particularly interested me, and I hope will do the same for you.

I'm an avid collector of such items so any comments and suggestions you may have would be very welcome. So, without further ado, let's get straight onto...

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
1st Arrondissement: Quirk 18 ~ "Ox-Tale Soup"

Nothing very special about this old door, you might be thinking, but you'd be wrong. There's something very strange about it if you raise your eyes up and take a closer look.

Just above the doorway in bas-relief is an ox dressed, rather fetchingly, in a huge feathered straw hat, a shawl, a ponderous necklace and a neckerchief. Lovely.

The reason for all this gaiety? An old restaurant, which went by the name of Le Boeuf à la Mode - the fashionable ox - used to be here back at the end of the 18th century.

There used to be a statuette of an ox in the dining area which would be dressed up in the à la mode garments of the day. During the Directoire of the 1st Republic, between 1795 and 1799 the ox would be ordorned as a fashionable coquette. When the Bourbons were restored to the throne in 1830 it wore a dress, earrings and the feathered hat and shawl we see here.

The fare served was basic and hearty provincial cuisine, along the lines of bouillabaisse - a fish soup, cod, green olives and nougat...

Now the restaurant is gone, closed in 1936 after several owners and a spell as a small bar. Luckily, for us Paris curiosity lovers, its memory lives on in the form of an ox done up to the nines, down a sleepy side street of the Palais Royal.

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* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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