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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.

DESIRES

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Testament of Baltimore, 1692

LE PETIT ENDROIT

Vous qui venez ici
dans une humble posture,
De vos flancs alourdis
décharger le fardeau
Veuillez, quand vous aurez
soulagé la nature
Et déposé dans l’urne
un modeste cadeau,
Épancher dans l’amphore
un courant d’onde pure,
Et sur l’autel fumant,
placer pour chapiteau
Le couvercle arrondi
dont l’auguste jointure
Aux parfums indiscrets
doit servir de tombeau.
Alfred de Musset à George Sand