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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Travel » » Club Nouméa's Parisian Tiki Tour
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Club Nouméa's Parisian Tiki Tour
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 517
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2016-01-05 12:57 pm   Permalink

Club Nouméa, once again your post fascinates me! I have never heard/read of this before, but now I want to know more. The stories this place could tell! Any idea how long these establishments lasted and what the general reaction was from Parisians? Was there a pre-20th century "themed bar/restaurant" trend in Paris (and beyond?)the way mid-century history and value in the US gave rise to the fashion of Polynesian Pop for a while?

Cheers and thanks!

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Club Nouméa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 454
From: Wanganui
Posted: 2016-01-05 10:54 pm   Permalink

Hello finky099

Maxime Lisbonne is recognised by various historians of French culture as being the starting point for the modern conception of the themed bar. Prior to 1885 yes, you could, for example, walk into places like Irish pubs or Italian cafés in Paris, where they had pictures of the old country on the wall, they served appropriate food and drink, and some or all of the staff may have been Irish, Italian or whatever. The difference with the Taverne du Bagne was that it was that full immersive experience of being transported to another world. You suddenly found yourself in a New Caledonian penitentiary, being treated like a convict.

These themed bars, cafés etc. were very popular in Paris in the 1880s and 1890s. All of Parisian high society flocked to the Taverne du Bagne, with aristocrats pulling up in their fancy fiacres etc. Maxime Lisbonne's establishments did not last very long, but the "L'Enfer" cabaret survived until the early 1950s. This place had all the fancy themed trappings that we have come to associate with tiki bars:

An ornate entrance.

A stunning interior!

Themed food and drinks (including syrups and liqueurs) and floorshows, and even a souvenir you could take home with you (I am curious to know what it was). And note the name of the place translated into English for the benefit of their international clientele....

All this should be ringing bells for anyone who has stepped inside a tiki establishment. No it ain't tiki, but it is the same basic concept for drawing customers in by providing them with an exotic or other-worldly experience.

L'Enfer survived until the early 1950s but it was very much the exception. Here is an image from circa 1950 that used to be a popular postcard in Paris. You may still find it if you hunt around:


Toto, j'ai l'impression que nous ne sommes plus au Kansas !

[ This Message was edited by: Club Nouméa 2016-01-05 23:26 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 517
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2016-01-07 5:26 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the additional info and great photos. Almost seems anachronistic thinking about L' Enfer coming into being in the late 1800's and being there until 1950. How cool that there are some photos, too.


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