• 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.

Story continues below…

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
First French 'neutral gender' defends 'being genderless'
Photo: Whitecatsg/Flickr

First French 'neutral gender' defends 'being genderless'
4 hours ago

The first French person to be given the designation "neutral gender" appeared in court on Friday to testify in an appeal of the decision.

And the 'Liar of the year' award goes to Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen. Photo: AFP

And the 'Liar of the year' award goes to Marine Le Pen
5 hours ago

National Front leader Marine Le Pen has been voted as the "biggest liar" of 2015. But why?

Only in France - pig's entrails sold in vending machines
Photo: Kent Wang/ FLickr

Only in France - pig's entrails sold in vending machines
5 hours ago

As Paris gets its first automatic meat dispenser it seems "Only in France" could you buy bread, cheese, steak and pig's intestines from 24-hour street vending machines.

Calais: UN slams 'appalling' conditions for migrant kids
Children in the Jungle camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

Calais: UN slams 'appalling' conditions for migrant kids
7 hours ago

This time it's the United Nations that has blasted France for the conditions at Calais.

Americans in France
Where do Americans choose to live (or avoid) in France?
Photo: AFP

Where do Americans choose to live (or avoid) in France?
8 hours ago

Can you guess which region in France only 55 Americans call home?

How Paris plans to become a 'model' of cleanliness - really
The Canal Saint Martin area of Paris that has been plagued by litter problems. Photo: AFP

How Paris plans to become a 'model' of cleanliness - really
9 hours ago

Yes, you read that right.

State of Emergency
Emergency powers 'helped foil a terror attack': French PM
Photo: AFP

Emergency powers 'helped foil a terror attack': French PM
10 hours ago

The French PM defended the ongoing state of emergency in France on Friday claiming that the sweeping powers helped them foil a terror attack.

Airbnb hands over €1.2 million in tourist tax to Paris coffers
Photo: AFP

Airbnb hands over €1.2 million in tourist tax to Paris coffers
10 hours ago

Airbnb moves to appease critics by handing over €1.2 million in tourist taxes to Paris City Hall.

Unique French ski resort runs on old slag heap
Photo: AFP

Unique French ski resort runs on old slag heap
12 hours ago

France's busy little ski resort of Noeux-les-Mines is also its most unusual. It has no mountains, no snow, runs all year round and is built on a decades-old slag heap.

Deadly French drug trial: Lab had 'major shortcomings'
Biotrial, the firm that led the fatal trial.Photo: AFP

Deadly French drug trial: Lab had 'major shortcomings'
13 hours ago

The lab in France that led a drug trial in which a volunteer died and others were left with brain damage had 'major shortcomings'.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
Travel
Wait... that's not snow! Check out France's most unique ski slope
Culture
Don't panic, France isn't bidding a final adieu to the circumflex
Culture
VIDEO: UK group performs Shakespeare for Calais refugees
National
France cuts more red tape: E.G. No license needed to collect horse's sperm
Gallery
How France could really simplify the French language (for us learners)
Culture
Say good bye to 'oignon': How 2,400 French words will get new spellings
Sport
US calls on French help to prevent 'Paris-style' attack at Super Bowl
Culture
Betty Blue star Béatrice Dalle says she ate a dead man's ear (while on acid)
Analysis & Opinion
It's no surprise the French are losing faith in Hollande's war on terror
Culture
What's on: Here are 10 great things to do in France in February
Culture
The 300-metre monument Paris could have had instead of the Eiffel Tower
How a drunken stunt with a mattress on an Alps ski slope ended in tragedy
Culture
Chandeleur - The day the French get superstitious
Culture
Did fear of losing success drive top French chef to commit suicide?
See what changes in France from February 1st
Culture
'S**t! B**lox!'- Ramsay sees Versailles restaurant lose star
Lifestyle
Le Chandeleur: Why do the French eat crêpes on February 2nd?
Culture
Mad Max director to head Cannes Film Festival jury
National
'And what if your daughter married a Muslim?' - Survey shocks France
Features
Are these really 'the only streets in Paris' you need to go to?
Culture
Is the Michelin guide worth the paper it's written on?
Society
VIDEO: See the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris in 1926
Society
Is this the simple solution for Brits stressed out by driving in France?
3,550
jobs available