The Eiffel Tower restaurant Le Jules Verne reopens this weekend after a titanic battle in which two top chefs took it away from the culinary star Alain Ducasse, who had run the establishment for a decade.
Ducasse was evicted by the Eiffel Tower’s operator last year to make room for the chefs Frédéric Anton and Thierry Marx, whose consortium won the right to take over the management of Le Jules Verne and the other food outlets in the monument, which include snack counters and a brewery on the first level.
The transition for Le Jules Verne proved a bitter one. Ducasse was especially stung by the operator’s opinion that the new chefs offered a “strong leap in terms of quality”.
Suggesting his chosen successors were not up to the task, Ducasse launched and lost a lawsuit to keep control of the restaurant, which has fed presidents, celebrities and an endless line of well-heeled tourists and locals.Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump ate there with their spouses in July 2017.
From Saturday diners willing to fork out for set menus ranging from €105 to €230 (£95 to £207) per person excluding drinks will find a new culinary experience awaits under new management.
Anton, 54, said the new-look restaurant and menu turned the page on the Ducasse era. “There’s not any trace of anyone else here. We started fresh. It’s our spirit here,” he told reporters as he showed off dishes featuring crab, langoustine ravioli and smoked aubergine. He said he had been so busy he “didn’t have time to think” about the criticism.
The Jules Verne sits on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, 125 meters (410 feet) above Paris. Its pared back new interior, designed by the Lebanese architect Aline Asmar d’Amman, offers panoramic views over the city of light.
Anton said he would be heavily involved in the cooking and management of the restaurant, with daily trips planned between the Eiffel Tower and his other restaurant in Paris, the three-star Le Pré Catelan.
“I want Le Jules Verne to become a gastronomic destination before being considered a tourist destination,” he said.
He could not resist a dig at Ducasse, who is now rarely seen in the kitchen as he concentrates on running a global food empire that spans multiple restaurants and corporate ventures. “I’m not in a rush to have 50 restaurants around the world,” Anton said.
Marx is expected to breathe new life into the first-floor brasserie along with their corporate partner, the French multinational food services group Sodexo.