• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

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.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
15-year-old French student charged over attack threat
Paris Gendarmes during a previous terror-related arrest in May 2016. File photo: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP

A 15-year-old high school student was charged and held Friday on suspicion of wanting to commit a terror attack.

Paris luxury hotel told to pay up after guest molests cleaner

A cleaner who was molested at a Paris luxury hotel by a Qatari guest has reportedly been awarded €57,000.

Frenchman leading Brexit negotiations starts new job
Photo: AFP

Frenchman Michel Barnier officially starts work as the European Commission's Brexit negotiator on Saturday in an appointment that British media called a "declaration of war".

VIDEO: Frenchman goes on iPhone-smashing rampage
Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Meet France's angriest Apple customer.

Nuit Blanche: Get set for an all-night party in Paris
Photo: La Nuit Blanche

Will YOU be heading down to the Seine on Saturday?

France told there's no more money for TGVs
High speed TGV trains parked in Lille. Photo: AFP

A report from the French senate has recommended that three planned high speed rail networks be scrapped.

Frenchman surfs again after shark bites off his leg
All photos: AFP

Meet the amputee Frenchman who is surfing again he was attacked by a shark.

Paris motorists to fund city's public transport system
Photo: AFP

Motorists in the Ile-de-France region will be hit by a tax rise in order to finance the city's trains and buses.

More French women becoming mothers after 40
French mums are getting older. File photo: Pexels

French mums are getting older, but the overall birthrate has fallen.

Paris police bust high-rolling gang of pram thieves
Photo: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

A gang of thieves has been caught after they pinched an estimated €100,000 worth of prams.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
It's official: France finally gets its new map
National
VIDEOS: France's raunchiest TV commercials of all time
Sexism at the wheel: France wants more women drivers
Society
Lifestyle
VIDEO: Is life on a French café terrace really this bad?
Society
Only in France: 'Drive slowly - grape juice on the roads'
Society
Saudi princess 'told guard to kill Paris decorator'
Education
Why are foreign students in France 'Europe's unhappiest'?
Education
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
2,735
jobs available