• 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

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
Ten random ways France leads the world
Salmon stuffed croissants, one of the ways in which France leads the world? Photo: Alpa/flickr

Ten random ways France leads the world

We all know France tops the global rankings for tourism and wine production but the country is also a world leader in many other slightly more obscure ways that are nevertheless worth cheering for or blushing at. READ  

French police in crisis as suicide rate spirals
Police officers protest in Paris as the number of suicides this years tops 50. Photo: AFP

French police in crisis as suicide rate spirals

With the number of suicides in the French police in 2014 passing 50 on Friday the government is under pressure to deal with a growing crisis. The Local asks a police union chief what is pushing so many officers to end their lives. READ  

Black Friday struggles to seduce French shoppers
Shoppers in France are more likely to stick to the usual sales for bargain hunts rather than go crazy for Black Friday. Photo: AFP

Black Friday struggles to seduce French shoppers

While some French retailers are hoping the US phenomenon "Black Friday" will seduce shoppers looking for bargains, the main question being asked in France was “What exactly is Black Friday?” READ  

Floods in south of France leave four dead
Rescuers search a flooded river for two missing people in the south of France. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Floods in south of France leave four dead

Four people died and two other people were still missing on Friday after a heavy storm triggered flash flooding in southeastern France, the government said. Weather warnings were in place for some 14 departments in the region. READ  

US tycoon mocks France for being 'communist'
Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan International says France should become "Communist". Photo: AFP

US tycoon mocks France for being 'communist'

A US tyre tycoon on Friday ridiculed French laws and trade unions that he said had prevented him from investing in a stricken factory, saying France should become "communist". READ  

Paris: Protesters block 'racist' human zoo show
"No to human zoos" and "My body is not for sale", were just two of banners held up by protesters at Exhibit B show in Paris. Photo: Gilda Di Carli

Paris: Protesters block 'racist' human zoo show

A divisive art show featuring black actors in cages as a portrayal of 19th century "human zoos" had to be halted on Thursday after more than 120 angry protesters smashed their way into Paris theatre where it was being held. READ  

EU sets March deadline for France to fix budget
France has until March to implement further austerity measures, demanded by the EU.

EU sets March deadline for France to fix budget

The EU has given France a stay of execution after deciding to give it until March to fix its budget. Paris could still face fines however if it fails to implement further economic reforms. READ  

France -Israel
Lawyer attacked in Paris hit-and-run trial
Trial for the death of Lee Zeitouni halted in Paris after lawyer attacked. Photo: Jack Glez/AFP

Lawyer attacked in Paris hit-and-run trial

The Paris trial of two Frenchmen accused of killing a young Israeli woman in a hit-and-run road accident in Tel Aviv was halted Thursday after a defence lawyer was assaulted during a break in proceedings. READ  

Found in France: Ice age statuette of busty woman
About 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) high, it shows a woman with big breasts and buttocks. The head and arms are less detailed. Photo: AFP

Found in France: Ice age statuette of busty woman

A 23,000-year-old limestone statuette of a woman with big breasts and buttocks has been discovered in northern France in what archaeologists on Thursday described as an “exceptional” find. READ  

French MPs push for Palestine recognition
Photo: A woman holds a sign reading "Hollande Palestine will live, Palestine will win" during an anti-Israel demo. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

French MPs push for Palestine recognition

French lawmakers were to debate on Friday a motion urging the government to recognize Palestine as a state, amid growing European frustration at the moribund Middle East peace process. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
What's on: Ten things to do in France before Christmas
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
Education
Is Paris really the best place in the world to be a student?
Society
The things gynecologists say that drive French women mad
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
A pill to make flatulence smell like roses? A Frenchman has cracked it
Culture
Rare 400-year-old Shakespeare work found in northern France
National
Paris air pollution: 'It's like being in a room with eight smokers'
National
From infidelity to sexual needs: How French women have changed in 30 years
National
Billboards to be replaced by trees - the bold move by one French city
Gallery
French government gives 10 reasons to be proud: No. 1 - The Economy
Politics
France's 'first ladies': A look back at the other halves
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
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