• France's news in English
 

Paris restaurant 'keeps ugly diners hidden'

Dan MacGuill · 7 Nov 2013, 11:19

Published: 07 Nov 2013 11:19 GMT+01:00

The former hostess at the swanky restaurant Georges in the world-famous Pompidou Centre, told print-only French satirical and investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchainé on Wednesday that her bosses enforced a policy of seating “handsome and beautiful” customers by the front of the establishment, and keeping ugly ones hidden away.

Indeed, the unnamed ex-employee claimed that if she ever happened to make a mistake in guiding insufficiently attractive clients to the front of the restaurant, she would land herself in trouble with management, who told her “it’s bad for the image of the place.”

The restaurant Georges, which is located on the sixth floor of the Pompidou Centre in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, has a very open layout, in keeping with the building's famous "inside-out" structure, and diners enjoying their meal are visible to passing museum visitors.

'Beautiful people go here, not-beautiful people go there'

The establishment is one of a few dozen in the City of Light run by French brothers Gilbert and Jean-Louis Costes.

Far from keeping the looks-based discrimination hidden, Gilbert Costes was proud of it, she claimed, personally coming to the restaurant Georges to emphasise the importance of the policy to staff.

“He drummed these house rules into us, and he was very proud of them because he came up with them,” she claimed, recalling that Costes emphasised a very simple classification system for his charges.

"There are beautiful people, you put them here. There are not-beautiful people, you put them there - it's really not that complicated," the former hostess quoted him as saying.

What did complicate this simple division, however, was telephone reservations, though the staff were taught to look for certain "linguistic clues" which might give away whether the voice on the other end of the phone belonged to one of the "beautiful people" or not.

According to the former worker, the staff would usually tell callers they would "do their best" to find them a table, then decide if they were "fully-booked" or not, after taking a look at the would-be diners when they arrived.

It seems there were exceptions to the “pretty in the front, ugly in the back” policy, however.

If a customer arriving for dinner was physically unappealing, according to the former hostess, it was acceptable to seat them in public view if, and only if, they were celebrities, she claimed.

Contacted by The Local on Thursday, a spokesman for the Costes group refused to deny or confirm the claims.


The terrace of the Georges restaurant at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Photo: Sporkist/Flickr

This isn't the first time in recent months that a French business has been criticized for discrimination when it comes to both their staff and clientele.

In July, US clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire for recruiting only "good-looking people" at their flagship Paris store on the Champs Elysées.

Slimane Laoufi from Defenseur des Droits (Defender of Rights), a body which fights discrimination and promotes equality told The Local: "Discriminating against someone’s looks is just the same as discriminating against someone on the grounds of health or whether they are handicapped.  They are all forbidden."

And in March, there was outrage in France after a blind man was refused entry to a restaurant in the north of France because his guide dog was not allowed in for "hygiene reasons", despite a law specifying the animals must be welcomed in all public places.

“It was an act of contempt, an exclusion, and a nasty piece of discrimination,” said Sylvain Syllebranque, after he, his wife and his guide dog were told they were not welcome at the restaurant.

Would you eat at an establishment where you were seated according to your looks? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

For more news from France, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Minister: 35-hour week not working in France
French Economy Minister Emmanual Macron. Photo: AFP

Minister: 35-hour week not working in France

2 hours ago

France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron took aim at France's 35-hour working week on Thursday, saying the Socialists were wrong to think life would improve if people worked fewer hours.

French traffic headaches forecast as holidays end
Being stuck in a car or a train will not be pleasant this weekend. Photo: AFP

French traffic headaches forecast as holidays end

1 hour ago

School's back next week - and the weekend traffic is forecast to be a nightmare as everyone returns home from their holidays. Here's what you need to know.

Ligue 1
Kurzawa out of clash with former club Monaco
Paris Saint-Germain newly recruited defender Layvin Kurzawa. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Kurzawa out of clash with former club Monaco

1 hour ago

New Paris Saint-Germain signing Layvin Kurzawa will miss an immediate return to former employers Monaco on Sunday due to an ankle injury.

French fraudster targets women called Josette
Several Josettes in France have been targeted by the fraudster. Photo: Duru/Flickr

French fraudster targets women called Josette

3 hours ago

French women named Josette are advised to be on their guard after three women with that name were targeted by a fraudster in the northern city of Rouen. Several other Josettes are also thought to have been targeted.

Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book
The decision to republish comes one year after Delacourt was ordered to pay the star €2,500 ($3400) for his depiction of her in the novel. Photo: AFP

Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book

5 hours ago

A French novel based on American actress Scarlett Johansson which the star sought to ban has now been translated into English and will be published in the UK within weeks, British media has reported.

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

6 hours ago

A UN conference on minorities persecuted by the Islamic State group will be held on September 8th in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king
King Mohammed VI. Photo: AFP

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king

6 hours ago

Two French investigative journalists were arrested on Thursday in Paris on suspicion of trying to blackmail the king of Morocco, legal sources in both countries said.

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town
Roma community members walk with their belongings after the forced evacuation of their camp on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town

22 hours ago

A 300-strong Roma population was evicted from a shanty town in the northern suburbs of Paris on Thursday, despite a strong call for the camp to remain.

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests
People waiting at the Gallieni international bus station and coach terminal in Bagnolet, east of Paris. Photo: Hugo Mathy/AFP

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests

22 hours ago

Coach drivers in France will be forced to have their blood-alcohol level tested via a breathalyzer before driving as part of a move to increase safety on the country’s growing coach industry.

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets
Tank trucks at French oil giant Total's La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets

1 day ago

French oil giant Total announced on Thursday it had agreed to sell a North Sea gas terminal and two pipelines in a deal worth over $900 million in a move to help offset falling oil prices.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

IN PICS: Police evict 300 people from France's oldest shanty town
11-year-old boy miraculously survives six-storey fall in Paris
Features
Take a look at some of the wackiest bars you can find in Paris
National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
National
Two men jailed after 'Charlie Hebdo 2' scare
National
French minister calls for tougher train security after foiled attack
National
President Hollande condemns arson attack on mosque
TIMELINE: What exactly happened on the Paris-bound "terror train"?
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Train gunman: Islamic extremist or homeless misfit?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
New plan to get shy French chatting on trains
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se