Restaurant Le Coupe-Chou
Restaurant Le Coupe-Chou - Société La Chartière - 9 & 11, rue de Lanneau 75005 Paris

Anecdote : The Beatles years and the Rolling Stones years.

Anecdote : The Beatles years and the Rolling Stones years.
When writing these anecdotes, I asked my father to share his memories of some of those amazing moments throughout the life of the Coupe-Chou since 1962, the year the restaurant opened. This was an incredible year, one which unfolded to the songs of Claude François, and which saw the stirrings of so many changes around the world. These changes really came to a head in 1968, but even the turbulent year of '68 required a little preparation!

It's funny to think that some years are particularly rich in new events, births, or deaths while others just seem to tick by unnoticed. It was in 1962 that my father and his two partners Francis Nani and Francis Lemonnier opened the Coupe-Chou. It was in 1962 that their future lives would be decided forever. This was a great year for history, for art, for music but also a great year in our personal lives. A year in which momentous international trends and events combined with a major turning point in our personal lives.

It was in this year, 1962, that the Beatles recorded their first single: "Love me do". It would certainly be true to say that these four trailblazing musicians ushered in a new era in the history of music. They generated mass hysteria among their fans, and in order to be able to travel around after their concerts they constantly needed to come up with new, ever more imaginative ruses. The kids of my generation know the story by heart. We were still too young to understand the emotion surrounding Lennon's murder in 1980, but today who can't be familiar with the Beatlemania of the 1960s, which remains impressive even for those of us who weren't there.

So when my father told me that in 1965 Bruno Coquatrix phoned him to tell him to get ready for the arrival of the Beatles at his restaurant following their concert at Olympia, my eyes obviously lit up! The Beatles at the Coupe-Chou! And in 1965…. at the peak of their career!

So I asked him: "How did they arrive? How did they behave? Were there lots of fans waiting for them outside?". In short, I literally bombarded him with questions about them. There was simply no way I could not write about the Beatles' visit to our restaurant.

Upon which, he told me the whole story. That year, that evening, the three managers of the Coupe-Chou were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Fab Four. And back in 1965, the Beatles could not do otherwise than make a dramatic entrance. The three managers saw a "salad shaker" approaching the restaurant. No, not a huge plate of vegetables, but a "salad shaker" in the French sense of the word, i.e. a police van.
The van in question came to a halt just in front of them. Christian Azzopardi looked puzzled, and said to his partners: "what's going on? I hope there's no trouble in the area. The Beatles will be here soon!". More worried looks were exchanged as the rear door of the police van opened. And then…. the three managers of the Coupe-Chou saw John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Star and George Harrison step out. They had escaped the hysterical crowds at Olympia by slipping away in a police van!

We seated them at an upstairs table.
"And what did they eat then Dad?" (I asked, continuing to pump my father for information)
- "How do you expect me to remember, it was 40 years ago!" - he told me.
- "But can't you remember anything special, I don't know, the attitude of the clients, whether they caused a rumpus, or anything like that. After all, it's the Beatles!"

I needed plenty of material to be able to recount my anecdote. I wasn't just going to scribble down that one evening back in 1965 at around 11 p.m. the Beatles had a peaceful meal at the Coupe-Chou just like anyone else. I need something exciting!

- "No, I don't think so…." - replied my father."Ah, yes, I do remember that they asked for milk".
- "Milk?"
- "Yes, milk".
- "Why do they want milk?"
- "To go with their meal".
- "They drank milk during their meal?"

I was flabbergasted! It just didn't seem to fit the image we had of them. Milk at that time of the evening, after a huge concert! It was just unbelievable.

- "But the problem", continued my father, "was that the restaurant wasn't accustomed to serving milk. We had to hunt all round the area at midnight to try and find a few litres…. which they drank and then asked for more, which meant that we had to run around again to try and find some extra bottles at short notice!"
- "Brilliant!"

I now had my anecdote. The Beatles had arrived at the Coupe-Chou in a police van and celebrated their success with bottles of hard-to-find milk! Already, in my head I was imagining my father and his partners dashing around the other restaurants, waking up the neighbours and the family: "Sorry for waking you, but I really need some milk, it's for the Beatles!"
And I can imagine the reaction from those in front of him, still half asleep and in their nightshirts, faced with a restaurant owner trying to beg milk for John, Paul, Ringo and George! My imagination was in top gear now, busily visualising all sorts of comical scenes. And I asked my father:

- "I hope it was a decent vintage of least?"
- "Hold on"
- "What's up?"
- "Now I come to think of it, it might have been the Rolling Stones instead".
- "Sorry?"
- "The thing with the bottles of milk, I think it was with the Rolling Stones".
- "Are you having a laugh? The bad boys of rock drinking milk! That's even more unbelievable than the Beatles!"
- "Yes, that's it, and wasn't in the 1965 but during the 1970s."
- "It all sounds a bit confused if you ask me. Are you sure it was the Stones and not the Beatles?"…
- "I can't remember any more. Ask Francis". (NB: Francis Nani). "In any case, they all visited the restaurant".

I watched as my story became ever vaguer. What could I really write with any certainty? A story about the Stones or the Beatles? These are two legendary groups, and is probably because of this that my father is no longer sure exactly who did what. But I needed to be certain, before writing any of this down!

- "And the police van…. was that the Stones or the Beatles?"
- "The Stones! No… the Beatles. Oh, I can't remember any more. As I told you, they've all been here. In any case, when McCartney came back here recently he asked to dine at the same table, up on the first floor. Of that I'm sure".
- "Terrific, I replied with a blasé air about me. I can certainly make something sensational out of that!"

Anecdote : The Beatles years and the Rolling Stones years.
The Beatles years and the Rolling Stones years
Whether it was the Stones, the Beatles or the Compagnons de la Chanson, it doesn't really matter. What matters are those special years, those slightly crazy years, even if we may sometimes get them muddled up. What matters are the years still to come and which may be even more amazing and even crazier. When all is said and done, whether it was the Stones or the Beatles who turned up in a police van and drank milk all evening, it doesn't really matter.

For my part though, I would still love to know! Perhaps one day, the Stones or the Beatles will jog our memories for us.