Montmartre is dotted with remnants of its bohemian heyday. From artists’ studios to legendary guinguettes, cafes to cabarets; Montmartre’s history has contributed much to the charm of Paris at large. Of the many cabarets that once comprised the village’s storied nightlife, Chez Patachou is one of its lesser known. Today, only a plaque at 13 Rue du Mont-Cenis endures to pay homage to what was once one of the most celebrated establishments of the 1950s and 60s.
Born in Paris in 1918, Henriette Ragon had a number of occupations before settling upon a career as a singer in her thirties. Working as a typist, shoe seller, antique dealer and in a bicycle factory during the war; Henriette and her husband Jean Billon became owners of a tea room in Montmartre in 1948.
Soon, the husband and wife partnership would turn their establishment into a tea room. Looking for a way to provide a musical atmosphere, they hired musicians and Henriette herself began to sing for her clientele. Charmed by her voice, a public grew for their restaurant, which quickly became a cabaret in its own right, the Patachou (pâte-à-choux meaning cream puff dough). French journalists soon followed suit and renamed the popular singer after her cabaret.
With a growing reputation around town, Chez Patachou became a hotspot for up-and-coming singers and stars alike. A young Edith Piaf would regularly perform, as would Jaques Brel ,while Georges Bressans would begin his career there.
Soon, both Henriette’s reputation and that of her cabaret were exported across the world, as she toured the US, performing at Carnegie Hall and the Waldorf Astoria. Likewise, the leading American stars of the time, like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. would sing with her at Chez Patachou when in Paris.
Back home in Montmartre, Chez Patachou hosted a who’s who of the era’s great performers, including; Charles Aznavour, Michel Sardou, Hugues Aufray and Claude Nougaro. Edith Piaf famously sung “La vie en rose” and gave her last performance in the legendary cabaret.
The venue inspired a film of its own name and after it closed its doors in the mid-70s, Patachou herself would turn her hand to acting. She would take part in numerous television shows and films over the course of the next 30 years. Henriette passed away at the age of 96 in 2015.
Today, all the remains of the legacy of Chez Patachou, is a solitary plaque on the wall of where the cabaret once stood; an ode to an era, remembered fondly in both Montmartre and France’s musical history.
Our guests can visit the former Chez Patachou on foot. Rue du Mont-Cenis is a mere 10 minute walk from our premises.
Book with us now and discover Montmartre on your doorstep!