The Zimmer : a short story…
After the war of 1870 between France and Germany, some wealthy families from Alsace wished to remain French citizens. To do so, they moved to Paris and became owners of cafés, calling them “brasseries” and running them along their regional traditions, serving beer and local delicacies. The Zimmers were among them, like the Drehers, the Weplers, the Zeyers and others.
In those days, the French were quite anti-German, which explains why a journalist, wanting to write a good review on the brasseries was forced to emphasise the “French” side of the Zimmer. In 1898, the “Courrier Français” stated that “the connaisseur of beers who wished to complement his tastebuds without forsaking his French patriotism, should go to the Zimmer.”
The Zimmer’s story is closely linked with the Châtelet Théâter, and has been since 1896, when only one door separated the entrance hall of the Châtelet from the ground floor offers a glimpse of Parisian brasserie life back then.
The Zimmer’s customers came from a population of artists and writers : Sarah Bernhardt, Jules Vernes, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, Claude Debussy, Emile Zola, Edmond Rostand, Marcel Proust, Serge de Diaghilev, Guillaume Apollinaire, Edmond Rostand, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Igor Stravinski, Vaslav Nijinski, Pablo Picasso all frequented this trendy spot.
Today, the brasserie has two basements, but it is said that a third existed and its entrance was walled up during the second world war to allow the French resistance fighters to gather there; it also housed a hiding place for weapons. An elderly man, now resident in Israël, visited Paris recently and confirmed this story to the landlord. He emotionally explained to him that this secret hiding place had saved his life. He was unable, however, to find the way to enter this third basement, so the secret remains…
In 2000, the landlord decided to restore the brasserie, employing Jacques Garcia, the famous interior designer, to carry out this task. He was brimming with enthusiasm for the character of this place, so full of history. Thanks to historical research and Garcia’s enormous talent, the brasserie has regained an authentic feel. He has given back to the Place du Châtelet one of the most beautiful of the Parisian cafés.