FACT First Look: Les Deux Magots brings French finesse to Riyadh

What do Hemmingway, Picasso and Sartre have in common? They all loved this Parisian café – and you will too. 

Les Deux Magots is a love letter to Paris. The French café has been a hub for intellectuals since the 1800s. Now, it is bringing its charms to Saudi Arabia’s Via Riyadh. FACT got an exclusive look at the venue, and we have already fallen for the café.

Established in 1812, Les Deux Magots is one of the oldest cafés in Paris. The café has an enchanting origin story – a novelty store of the same name, which translates to two Chinese figures, was once located at the exact location. As a homage to its namesake, the original as well as the new café have two statues of Chinese men. 

Les Deux Magots

When you enter Les Deux Magots in Via Riyadh, classical French music is playing and it feels like you are stepping back in time. The décor boasts high ceilings, dark wood panels and red sofas, which make it feel like a cross between a gentleman’s club and a library. 

Old-school photos from the original café to the Eiffel Tower line the walls, and beautiful books from Jane Eyre to JRR Tolkien sit on the shelves. We were impressed by the attention to detail, as the English language books are on the left-hand side and Arabic language books are on the right-hand side, so you can see the front covers of both.

Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots in Via Riyadh can accommodate up to 104 guests. Take your pick from indoor and outdoor seats, red leather curved banquettes, long sofas and chairs. Plus, there is a tucked away bar.

General Manager James Gunsel, took us on a tour and shared: “Les Deux Magots is a place for the world’s intellectuals. Name any celebrated writers, and they’ve probably been there. The café is more than a century old, and has been successful from the beginning. It was a place of conversations, creations and all of these geniuses gathering together.

Les Deux Magots

“This is a place of art, and we wanted to reflect Paris to Riyadh. Maybe in the future it will happen here – celebrities might come, and sign books. It’s important for them to have a place, and this is the place for that.”

Les Deux Magots was the meeting spot for French poets such as Mallarmé, Rimbaud and Verlaine. Throughout its history, it has been a who’s who from the creative world welcoming Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. While he is more sporty than literary, we were told that Argentinian footballer and Saudi’s brand ambassador, Lionel Messi, visited Les Deux Magots in Via Riyadh the day before our visit.

Les Deux Magots

So far, we know that Les Deux Magots in Via Riyadh’s menu will draw inspiration from the Paris menu. The dishes will include club sandwiches, omelettes, steaks and freshly baked viennoiseries. James adds: “This is a very Parisian classic café – expect colourful café food with good quality ingredients.”

Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots in Via Riyadh is open from daily from noon to 12.30am. 

We’re enchanted to meet you. 

GO: Visit for more information.

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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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