Inside the Eiffel Tower’s Revamped Restaurant, Le Jules Verne
Architect and designer Aline Asmar d’Amman reimagined the space to match the cuisine of the newly appointed Michelin-star chef, Frédéric Anton
From the day it first opened in 1983, Le Jules Verne has captivated the world with its magical views of the City of Light from its romantic perch on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris. Now the intimate and supremely chic restaurant has reopened with a stunning new decor by Lebanese-Parisian architect and interior designer Aline Asmar d’Amman and a new Michelin-star chef, Frédéric Anton—and it’s better than ever.
“It was a challenge and an honor to do this project, because the tower transmits such a powerful and enduring message of progress, culture, and humanist values,” says Asmar d’Amman, whose firm, Culture in Architecture, has offices in Paris and Beirut. “These are the themes I wanted my design for the restaurant to communicate. I sought to create a decor that was modern but profoundly Parisian, and I was guided by the subtlety and restraint that give birth to elegance.”
The updated design gently echoes the architectural beauty of Paris with details that evoke the different visual idioms of the French capital. Working in a serene color scheme of gray, silver, pearl, and stormy blue accented with black metals, silver, and gold, Asmar d’Amman conceived a look for the three dining rooms—Quai Branly, Trocadéro, and Champs de Mars, the latter offering the best views—that showcases the brute power of the monument’s engineering but refines it with the lightness of custom-designed furniture by Culture in Architecture. Black steel chairs in the bar area, part of the Iron Lady furniture line her firm developed for the project, are inspired by the allure of the Eiffel Tower.
In the main dining room, French brushed-oak tables with mother-of-pearl powder inlay are surrounded by dove-gray wooden tub seats with woven cane backs and velvet cushions or rounded gray velvet upholstered sofas. Seven white plaster circle lights inspired by the graphics of the Eiffel Tower’s mechanics on the hand-painted ceiling reference the massive mechanical wheels that power the tower’s elevators, including the private south pillar one that takes diners up to Le Jules Verne.
“This project was done in symbiosis with chef Frédéric Anton,” Asmar d’Amman explains. “My design also had to reflect his cooking, which is so subtle and refined, to create a cohesive aesthetic experience for people coming to the restaurant.” If she created the new setting of Le Jules Verne, Anton’s challenge as the fourth chef of the restaurant, which was most recently run by Alain Ducasse, was to overcome the considerable logistical constraints of offering a transcendent gastronomic experience in a space where security concerns prevent the use of gas in the very small kitchen or lit candles in the dining room.
Chef since 1997 at another one of the most romantic restaurants in Paris, the famous Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne, the vast wooded park on the western edge of the city, Anton has held three Michelin stars there for more than a decade. The toque has spectacular technical skills in the kitchen and a signature talent for subtle modern French cuisine—his food is at once playful and elegant, sensual and cerebral. At Le Jules Verne, he’s placed Kevin Garcia, his sous-chef from Le Pré Catelan, to oversee the menus he’s designed.
Standout dishes of a recent five-course dinner included a suave crème Dubarry, a velvety and richly flavored cauliflower cream with a flan of baby leeks and caviar; and a chicken breast poached in foie gras bouillon with a sublime sauce Albufera, which is made from duck foie gras, Cognac, white port, Madeira, chicken bouillon, and cream.
Ultimately, the elegant, high-altitude collaboration of Asmar d’Amman and Anton has exquisitely renewed one of the most consummate experiences of Paris for the 21st century.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Winter Issue under the headline “Towering Achievement.” Subscribe to the magazine.