A prestigious Parisian brasserie, LIPP is a traditional French restaurant well-known not only for its classic French dishes, but also its famous clientele, from philosophers, screenwriters, literary artists, to supermodels and politicians. Located in the fashionable arrondissement of Paris, its extraordinary history features a regular customer, Francois Mitterrand.
The longest-serving President of France from 1981 to 1995, Francois Mitterrand was First Secretary of the Socialist Party, the first figure from the left elected President under the Fifth Republic. In what became known as The Observatory Affair, he was pursued by assassins when travelling home from dinner at Brasserie Lipp very late on the night of 15 October 1959, perhaps after visiting his secret mistress and daughter residing in the Seventh Arrondissement of Paris, about 5 Kilometers from the Élysée.
The Paris Observatory
Near one of the largest astronomical centres in the world, the president of France took cover as gunshots were fired at his vehicle.
A dark car had tried to run Mitterand off the road twice before he abandoned his car along Rue Auguste-Comte. He laid prostrate on the grass of a Paris park bordering the Avenue de l’Observatoire, before ringing the bell at entrance no.5 which scared off the assassins and woke the quartier. There were 7 bullet holes in the front and rear door of his vehicle.
Commissioner Georges Clot was chief investigator of this assassination attempt. He deduced from the angle of the bullet holes that the shots were fired from a stationary card, which implied that the gunmen were confident, but raised suspicions as to why they had failed to run Mitterrand off the road, and had assumed to have killed him in his car before taking off. Moreover, he identified unreliable parts of Mitterrand’s testimony.
The truth was finally revealed – in a dramatic turn of events – by Robert Pesquet, a carpenter who stepped into politics.
Palais de Justice
Formerly the residence of France’s medieval kings, Palais de Justice also housed a royal chapel and a prison.
At the Palais de Justice, in front of reporters and lawyers, Pesquet read out a letter posted to himself two days before the staged assassination. The plan of events which unfolded exactly on that night was recorded in the letter! Pesquet claimed that this was Mitterrand’s scheme.
Mitterrand defended himself with the claim that Pesquet had come to him with orders from French-Algerian friends for Mitterrand’s life over his own. Since a fake assassination would deter potential killers and help his friend, Mitterrand had agreed to play along. Pesquet, however, publicly accused Mitterrand for organising the whole scandal, and Mitterrand became the victim of a right-wing plot to ruin his political career.
Just what were the truths behind these assassination attempts? Their stories are sure to remain with you as you explore the iconic landmarks and hidden gems of the City of Lights. Aside from tours in Paris, Odyssey has a wide offering of tours for you to learn more about the culture and historic sites of other regions of France in person while travelling through beautiful landscapes.
About Odyssey Traveller
We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers. Typically, our clients begin travelling with us from their mid 50’s onward. But be prepared to meet fellow travellers in their 80s and beyond! Both couples and solo travellers are very welcome on our tours. We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.
Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details.
Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.
Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.
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