• France edition
 
Paris restaurant 'keeps ugly diners hidden'
A former hostess at the chic Georges restaurant in Paris (pictured) claims her bosses insisted "beautiful" clients be seated in public view, while keeping ugly ones hidden. Photo: BBBubice/Flickr

Paris restaurant 'keeps ugly diners hidden'

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

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
LIVE: Pro-Palestinians demonstrate in Paris
Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Paris to oppose Israel's Gaza incursion. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

LIVE: Pro-Palestinians demonstrate in Paris

A pro-Palestinian march is taking place in Paris on Wednesday evening amid tight security after violence marred previous protests. The Local France is tweeting live from the scene. READ  

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France
French lawmakers have approved a redrawn map of France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France

Legislation that would redraw the map of France won overwhelming support on Wednesday from the country's lower house, the National Assembly. It's part of a plan reduce France's costly and cumbersome bureaucracy. READ  

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo
Riot police will be out in force on Wednesday for the pro-Palestinian protest. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo

Police chiefs in Paris are taking no chances on Wednesday with the latest pro-Palestinian rally taking place in the city. Hundreds of police are on duty to keep the peace. The Local will be tweeting live from the demo. READ  

Tête-à-tête - Part 1
'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'
Should foreigners be able to vote in France's local elections? Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'

France's president reignited an age-old row recently when he vowed to fight to give foreigners the vote in France. In the first part of our tête-a-tête we hear from a French mayor; who says France would be abandoning part of its sovereignty if foreigners were able to cast ballots. READ  

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande
French business leader Pierre Gattaz's glare at the French president tells a story. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande

French president François Hollande has taken umbrage after the leading voice of France’s business community described the country’s economy as “disastrous” this week and called for an end to the flagship 35-hour week and 75 percent tax rate. READ  

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins
Stage 17 of the Tour de France will see some tought climbs for the riders. Photo: Screengrab LeTour.fr

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins

Stage 17 of the 2014 Tour de France was won by Rafal Majka on Wednesday after 124.5km punishing ride through the Pyrenees. Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali extended his lead over his rivals. READ  

Immigration system
French test plan for long-term visa applicants
Anyone seeking a long-term visa in France in future will have to swat up on their French. Photo: Tim Green/Flickr

French test plan for long-term visa applicants

New legislation unveiled on Wednesday aims to shrink the bureaucratic hurdles foreigners who want to stay in France face and provide a glimmer of hope for asylum seekers languishing in limbo. But anyone wanting to get a ten-year visa would need to be able to read French. READ  

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million
Ryanair has been ordered to refund millions in subsidies to local French authorities. Photo: Paolo Margari/Flickr

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million

Low-cost airline Ryanair received nearly €10 million in illegal government aid and now must pay the money back, the European Commission said on Wednesday. It's another costly blow for Ryanair after a French court ordered it to stump up €9million in damages last year. READ  

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro
A Paris stuntman's video of him jumping onto a moving train has gone global. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro

A video featuring a thrill-seeking acrobat named “Mister Puma” risking his life by jumping onto the roof of a moving metro train in Paris has proved a global hit. But it's just his latest crazy feat on the Metro. Watch some his death-defying stunts here. READ  

French court rules no halal meals in prison
A French prison will not be forced to serve up halal meals after all. Photo: John Moore/AFP

French court rules no halal meals in prison

A controversial ruling that ordered a French prison to serve up halal meals to inmates was overturned by a court in Lyon this week in the latest issue to pit the country's secular tradition against Islamic practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
IN IMAGES: Two Paris anti-Israel demos descend into violence
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Travel
Sun's up: Temperatures in parts of France could hit 40°C
National
Monkey slur lands ex-National Front member with hefty jail sentence
National
VIDEO: Jewish 'ultras' and anti-Israel mob in running street battle in Paris
International
Middle East crisis: 'Jews in France are stand-ins for Israeli targets'
Culture
IN PICTURES: Bastille Day fireworks mark centenary of the 'Great War'
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'I've never seen scenes like it' - Tour de France winner on the UK crowds
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Travel
Ten essential free phone apps for a visit to Paris
Gallery
Like cycling? Love France? See the top ten best cycling routes in France
International
'They think beer is a vegetable': What the French really think of Germans
National
Sarkozy's dream of a 2017 comeback is not dead yet
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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