So what do Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and a little unassuming jazz club in Paris have in common? Turns out, a lot!

Le Bilboquet, Paris Blues, and the history of jazz are intrinsically intertwined as the history of jazz was written in this inimitable Belle Epoque salon founded in 1947 right in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près. Unlike America at the time, jazz was embraced here in France and racism was not pervasive so the greats headed east to Paris and Le Bilboquet.

Jazz music was immortalized at this corner club by legends Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Kenny Clarke, Duke Ellington, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gilespie, Lionel Hampton and Charlie Parker, to name a few, and the era was celebrated by Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward, and Diahann Carroll in the movie Paris Blues.

Le Bilboquet is now a restaurant-jazz club-piano bar serving up some of the best music in Paris amongst dark wood panels topped with a copper ceiling, brass trim and a sunken bar on the bottom floor. The three levels offer unobstructed views of the band from every corner and on any given night you will hear Nat King Cole's "Route 66" or "Straighten Up and Fly Right" resonating from the walls. You’ll catch yourself singing along and tapping your toes as it permeates your thoughts and for a moment you forget you are six thousand miles away from home…but then again, this is home. For now…

Their menu is limited with classical French light fare and a few attempts at fusion. Unfortunately it is not as legendary as their musical memoirs but if you have friends in town who are fans of the blues, this is a wonderful slice of American-French history to share. A friend and former co-worker at a Huge Software Company came to town a few weeks ago. Their yellow labrador is named Jango so I figured Le Bilboquet would be a safe bet. Voila le menu…

Avocat épicé et tartare de thon
Spicy avocado purée with tuna tartar

Melon nature
Melon (and they weren’t kidding! this was a bit awkward and more like eating breakfast than an appetizer but as far a fruit goes, it was sweet and delicious)

Pavé de sandre au beurre blanc
Pike in a butter sauce

Thon juste saisi saté
Seared tuna with a soy-teriyaki sauce (this was delicious and cooked perfectly!)

Blanc de poulet rôti, chutney et curry
Roasted chicken breast with chutney and curry (the curry was really nice, not too spicy, deep layers of rich flavors)

The music was getting a bit too loud to talk so we went to a little corner bistro a few blocks away for a café and a gateau chocolate moelleux (the soft chocolate lava cake)! Sorry, forgot to take a pic of that. Next time…as there will definitely be a next time…

Le Bilboquet
13 rue St-Benoit, 75006 Paris
Phone: +33 1 45 48 81 84
Metro: (#4) St-Germain-des-Près or (#10) Mabillon
Hours: nightly 8:30pm to 2:00am, with music beginning at 9:30pm

Le Bilboquet & the Paris Blues 30 September,2005Cucina Testa Rossa

  • Anonymous

    Hello, my family and i went to the restaurant “Le bilboquet” last saturday. We were very disappointed by the restaurant service, the waitress were cheerless. DON’T GO THERE! it’s very expensive and the place is too small to hear Jazz. There are a lot of places to go to hear Jazz in Saint Germain des Prés.
    Have a nice night in Paris!

  • John and Tilly of London

    Well anonymous, you were either unlucky or have a miserable outlook on life. We happened upon Le Bilboquet last Sunday evening and what a great find. The waitress was helpful, bilingual and as happy as could be. The food was very good as well. But the best part was the music, absolutely brilliant. A great evening out at very reasonable cost. A perfect place to hear jazz, small enough to feel a part of what is going on.

  • Anonymous

    I must agree with John and Tilly on this one. Stumbled upon this place on a recent trip and absolutely delighted that we did. Friendly man at the door and delightful waitress. Food was simple put perfectly prepared. Top quality ingredients. Very cosy interior and music was just brilliant. Ended up spending the whole night there , bopping our heads away….

  • Soupgirl

    I’m hunting for the soup restaurants in the bay area. Does anyone have a personal favorite? Need not be a soup restaurant, but rather a restaurant that serves amazing soups. I collect “soup” experiences like some people collect trying new micro brews. Any suggestions? I’m travelling there next month.

  • holly

    my son had a pasta with a cream sauce at Le Bilboquet in Paris he wants to replicate,he was only 9 yrs old and can’t get that out of his 25 yr. old mind.he said it had a grey hue to it..anyone know what sauce that was.. will be forever grateful if you can help him realize his epicurian wish..


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor