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Maxim’s may no longer be the meeting place for Paris’ elite, but for three days this summer it will be occupied by movie stars when Woody Allen shoots scenes for his untitled film at the storied restaurant. Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson have been cast in the project, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is rumored to have a cameo.
It’s the kind of glitzy clientele the Rue Royale landmark has been trying to attract in recent years. The space remains busy mainly with tourists who know it through the numerous licenses granted by the current owner, Pierre Cardin, who has opened Maxim’s in Beijing, Geneva and Tokyo.
The institution’s glory days will at least be revisited soon in print. Assouline will publish an illustrated book in fall 2011, which will include some fabled recipes.
Founded by Maxime Guillard in 1893, the eatery is famous for its lavish Art Nouveau interior, thanks to subsequent owner Eugène Cornuché, and is now protected as a national heritage. With its parterre of courtesans, Maxim’s became a favorite haunt of the gilded youth of the Belle Epoque era.
In the Thirties, patrons included poet Jean Cocteau, Edward VII, the Prince of Wales and writer Marcel Proust. After World War II, Maxim’s became a hub for jet-setters such as Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas. Legend has it that, during a refurbishment, workers found a treasure trove of gold coins and lost jewelry between the cushions of the upholstered wall seats.