Restaurant Foyer de la Madeleine
Lurking under the vaulted ceilings in the cellars of L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine or better known in English as the Madeleine Church is one of Paris’ best kept secret cafés and a unique experience.
(click on the images for an expanded view)
L’eglise Saint-Marie-Madeleine as it was formally known or simply Madeleine, with its 52, 20 metre high corinthian columns stretching towards the sky, holding a roof area of 108 metres x 43 metres, is a magnificent sight and well worth a visit either before or after lunch.
The site and building both carry a rich and curious history. The interior with its large arches and three elaborate gilded domes, house a wonderful pipe organ dating back to 1845.
Over 3000 people attended the funeral of Chopin at Madeleine. Until that time, women were not permitted in the church.
However granting Chopins wish to have Sopranos sing Mozart’s Requiem, after two long weeks of deliberation, it was granted.
Although the women were allowed to enter, they had to sing behind a black velvet drape.
Interesting when you think about it that he dated a woman, being George Sand, who not only took on a man’s name but wore men’s clothing. Yet another reason to like Chopin.
Please don’t expect a gastronomic tour de force otherwise you may be disappointed but if you want to have an unusual Parisian experience in a quirky secret hideaway that oozes old fashioned charm and tucked under the magnificent colonnaded roman catholic church, this may be the place for you.
If you fancy being welcomed by warm and friendly volunteers who serve up good hearty and very inexpensive food in delightful ambient surroundings, you are in for a treat!
I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered The Foyer. Always in search of something a bit different or off the beaten path, this ticked all the boxes.
Are you intrigued? Would you like to try it out? Ok, this is how you find it and how it works.
Madeleine, in the 8th arrondissement is the closest Metro.
Facing the Madeleine Church, walk down the right side of the building until you come to a green door on your left, this is the discreet entrance.
As you enter you will be greeted by one of the many friendly volunteers at a desk and they will ask if you are member.
You can do this two ways, you can have lunch for €15.50, or become an annual member for €7.00 and pay €8.50 euros for lunch going forward.
It is cheaper to become a member and if you go again, you will only pay €8.50 next time around. The membership is valid for one year and a nice souvenir to have or pass it on to a friend.
Once you have paid, behind you, to the left is a desk, where you show your membership card and receipt. At this point you can also purchase soft drinks or wine.
Next look along the long corridors and find somewhere to sit. You can either sit with others or take a table on your own.
After you are seated, one of the volunteers will present you with a tray, it will have a choice of 4 or 5 entrées and later you will be offered a selection from the two main courses.
Desert will be a chocolate mousse or yoghurt in a tub. Nothing fancy but I couldn’t complain and to be honest, it is more about the experience than the cheap three course lunch.
My French is not very good but the charming ladies who volunteer made a big fuss to ensure that I understood and made sure that I was well looked after.
If you like something out of the ordinary and would like to see the wonderful long cellars hidden under the Madeleine Church, this little lunch venue is a treat.
If you still haven’t had enough and would like to linger a little longer and soak up your surrounds and explore the vaults a little more you can move to the cafe section, sit on comfy sofas and have a coffee for a mere €1.00. Walk the length of the long vaulted corridors where you entered on your left, here you purchase your coffee and another passageway awaits you, to relax in the café.
This unusual venue is fun and the volunteers will make sure you feel welcome while you dine alongside local business men in suits and regular elderly Parisians, all in the know of an inexpensive secret hideaway in the otherwise upmarket area.
If you found this information useful or interesting, please thank me by leaving a comment or follow me on facebook for daily photos, updates and anecdotes. Merci et bon appétit!
You can read about my experience in Restaurant Foyer de la Madeleine below.
One of Paris’ best kept secrets is a lunchtime venue in the cellar of La Madeleine or more formally; L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, the Madeleine Church. If you didn’t know to look for it, you would never just happen to stumble across it. Afraid I was too late and missed the deadline, I walked from the metro, practicing in …
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