The meal of a lifetime at La Tour d'Argent

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The first savory mouth watering taste of caneton Tour d’Argent ignites sensuous flavors in the palate. Each bite compounds the sensation of its epicurean perfection. Duck this good can only be experienced at Paris’s renowned La Tour d’Argent.

The aura of La Tour d’Argent is that is feels separate from the world. The tables set with perfectly pressed linens and lighted by candelabra transport you to a place where you get lost in the subtle yet powerful flavors of each dish. Claude Terrail, who owned and directed the restaurant for almost six decades, believes that people come to La Tour d’Argent “for happiness, because the world stops when you are here.”

La Tour d’Argent first opened its doors in Paris in 1582 as a restaurant for the aristocracy. The restaurant catered to the exquisite tastes of royalty, including the members of Louis XIV’s court, who were served an ox prepared thirty different ways.

The restaurant is located on the fifth floor near the Île de la Cité. From every table, floor to ceiling windows present views of the graceful Seine, Notre Dame illuminated after sunset, and l’Arc de Triomphe in the distance. At night the restaurant’s enchanting atmosphere is lit by flood lights from the Bateaux Mouches tour boats as they pass down the Seine.

The duck dishes are served for two and are the more reasonably priced items on the menu. The caneton Tour d’Argent, formerly known as Canard au Sang or bloody duck, is the culinary landmark’s signature and most renowned dish and has been served for almost 120 years. The duck is served in a sauce of its own blood, which the current owner André Terrail, describes as “terribly unfashionable, but absolutely delicious.”

In 1890, Frédéric Delair, a former owner, began numbering the ducks and recording the noteworthy people who ate them. Each customer who orders a duck will receive a postcard with the duck’s serial number.

Duck No. 33,642 was savored by President Teddy Roosevelt, and President Mikhail Gorbachev took pleasure in duck No. 938,451. The one-millionth duck was celebrated in 2003.

In addition to culinary excellence, The Tour features one of the largest wine cellars in the world containing over 400,000 bottles; the oldest is from 1858. A waiter brings the wine list, a book the size of the Gutenberg Bible, to every table at the beginning of the meal.

On June 14, 1940, Claude Terrail applied for leave from his air force unit in Lyon and flew to Paris in anticipation of the Nazi’s occupation. Mr. Terrail gathered his most prized bottles of wine and walled them off in the Tour d’Argent’s cellar as protection from Nazi pillages.

The guidelines for elegance and tradition have not faltered after almost 430 years of business. Multiple waiters, each with their own specialty, are available to serve the guests’ every desire. Only one reservation is made for a table each night, so patrons are not rushed through the multiple courses.

Prepare to spend at least three hours admiring the view and enjoying the delicacies. Although one of the more expensive meals in Paris, the Tour d’Argent is more than a meal; it is an experience. In the words of Claude Terrail, it is a place where “nothing is more serious than pleasure.”
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