Cannes Bids Adieu to Iconic Restaurant Tetou

Courtesy of Pierre-Jacques
Tetou's first owner Cirio (in hat), with Baker (third from right) in 1932.

A decades-old favorite of everyone from Orson Welles to Robert De Niro falls victim to the Cote d'Azur wrecking ball.

Tetou, a fest institution whose guest book included everyone from Picasso and Josephine Baker to Orson Welles and Sharon Stone, has bid Cannes adieu.

Enforcing a local law that requires that all beach terraces along the Golfe-Juan be removed and their owners apply for permission to rebuild, authorities on Feb. 1 tore down the restaurant famous for its bouillabaisse, turning its iconic white arched doorway to rubble and its striped awnings to ribbons.

The original proprietor was Ernest “Tetou” Cirio, who set up the fish restaurant in 1918 and whose family has run it ever since. During the festival, Hollywood’s A-list (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Mick Jagger, George Clooney, the list goes on) would drop in for lunch or the most exclusive of afterparties.

Pierre-Jacques Marquise, the great-great-grandson of Cirio who ran the place since 1998, has met them all. But, following the Tetou golden rule, he never tipped off the media and, even now, refuses to gossip. “I don’t like to brag,” he says.

He does remember Jack Nicholson enjoying a smoke outside, opening the door for customer after customer, their mouths agape; Bill Murray greeting the kitchen staff; and Stone entering through a storm of flashbulbs so bright that Marquise could make out only her elegant silhouette as she crossed the room to embrace Martin Scorsese.

“Everyone went silent,” he says. “It was like a scene straight out of Casino.”

Perhaps no one was more distraught by Tetou’s closure than Robert De Niro, who phoned one day out of the blue to offer his support. “I was in the middle of the shift,” recalls Marquise. “A member of the staff gave me the phone. I heard the unmistakable voice: ‘Hi, it’s Bob.’”

Now, all Marquise can do is express dismay: “It is unbelievable that they tore down such an emblematic place that should have been a part of Cote d’Azur’s heritage.”

This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.