Café Tournon: The 1950s Hotspot For African-American Writers In Paris Is In A Strange State Of Flux
Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

Café Tournon: The 1950s Hotspot For African-American Writers In Paris Is In A Strange State Of Flux

Black History , Paris , France
Amara Amaryah
Amara Amaryah Mar 9, 2022

Café Tournon, Paris’ favorite gathering space for African-American writers, artists and performers, is in a strange state of flux.

Located in the prestigious 6th arrondissement, Café Tournon was known to be one of the principal hotspots for African-Americans living in Paris during the 1950s. Now the historical café in Paris sits in an uncertain state of flux as changes to the exterior and interior spark discussion.

The café officially closed for renovation months prior in 2021 and has had very little development or updates informing the public of next steps.

In a post from November 2021, Entrée to Black Paris noted that: “The last several times we’ve walked by the Café Tournon, it has been closed. The site is clearly under renovation, but for whom? “

The facade of the café has changed numerous times over the last 10 years alone, and the interior has certainly gone through some refurbishments. In this recent change, though, it is unclear whether the historic café is simply going through a new and necessary bout of changes or whether it will close for good.

Without adequate information on the website, both local and global communities worry for the future of Café Tournon and the history held within its walls.

Café Tournon open in 2018.

The History of Café Tournon And Its Charm On The Black Expat Community

Café Tournon was the go-to place to chill, gossip, make art (or at least enjoy the inception of a new cognac-inspired idea) and bask in a certain literary greatness that seemed to shine brightly on the vast community of expatriated African-American writers. Regular guests included Ollie Harrington, Richard Wright, Chester Himes and occasionally James Baldwin.

“It is so good to be somewhere where your color is the least important thing about you,” acclaimed author, Richard Wright wrote, speaking on the freedom felt in the cultural and racial haven in 1950s Paris.

With so much history and legacy cherished and clung to by many lovers of Paris, only time will tell whether the café will reopen again soon or close its doors for good.

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