Since we had just eaten at the Grande Cascade restaurant, we decided to walk around and visit its namesake, the actual Grande Cascade created by Baron Haussmann in 1852. Napoleon III was personally involved in planning the new parks. “We must have a stream here, as in Hyde Park,” he observed while driving through the Bois, “to give life to this arid promenade”. The first plan for the Bois de Boulogne was drawn up by the architect Jacques Hittorff, and the landscape architect Louis-Sulpice Varé. Their plan called for long straight alleys in patterns crisscrossing the park, and, as the Emperor had asked, lakes and a long stream similar to the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Unfortunately, Varé failed to take into account the difference in elevation between the beginning of the stream and the end. If his plan had been followed, the upper part of the stream would have been empty, and the lower portion flooded. When Haussmann saw the partially finished stream, he saw the problem immediately, dismissed Varé and Hittorff and designed the solution himself. An upper lake and a lower lake, divided by an elevated road, which serves as a dam; and a cascade which allows the water to flow between the lakes. This is the design still seen today.
It has been raining quite a lot in Paris, we were getting a little stir-crazy, so we decided to get out for lunch to a famous Paris restaurant, La Grande Cascade. The building started out as a cottage for Napoleon III and was converted to a restaurant for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 by Gustave Eiffel. As our waiter put it, “the flower is by Eiffel”. The restaurant been directed by many chefs including Alain Ducasse from 1995-1997 and the current chef Frédéric Roberts who moved from Lucas Carton. Over the years, the Grande Cascade has evolved while maintaining its “retro-modern” style. Le Grande Cascade is a place of memories, the grand alleys of the Bois de Boulogne, the splendor of the Second Empire, the elegance and lavish lifestyle of living La Belle Époque. Currently the restaurant has one Michelin star but a second star is expected by almost everyone who has eaten there.
According to legend in 1880 Napoleon III gave his wife the Empress Eugenie, this authentic Swiss chalet, which he had fully dismantled and reinstalled in the same way on an island in the Bois de Boulogne. At one time it was the location of a literary cafe frequented by Proust and Zola. The chalet has been burned and restored many times; the latest restoration took place in 2001 when the chalet was refurbished in French colonial style. It is located in the Bois de Bologne, on the largest lake in the park, Lac Inferieur. You get to the restaurant on a cute little boat that crosses the water.