More than 4,000 Menus Telling the Story of Gastrodiplomacy to Auction


Menus for May 31, 1961 dinner at the Élysée Palace as part of the official visit of President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy to France in 1961, their first state visit across the Atlantic. Estimate: €300 - €500.

A collection of 4,600 menus for meals served to world leaders on state visits to France goes under the hammer on May 31 at French auction house Maison Millon.

With an estimate of €110,000+, this collection has never previously been made public and dates back to 1868 and a meal provided by Napoleon III (estimate: €1,000 - €1,500), ending with the current President of France Emmanuel Macron's menu welcoming King Charles III at Versailles last year. More than 600 represent meals hosted by the British royal family.

A spokesman for Millon said: "This unprecedented sale presents a remarkable collection of menus, both in terms of their state of preservation and their historical and diplomatic interest. They bear witness to the evolution of French gastronomy, but also to that of protocol codes, as well as to some of the great moments in history."

Highlights include:

  • a handwritten menu for dinner with Queen Victoria in 1896
  • meals from the coronations of George V in 1911, George VI in 1937 and Elizabeth II in 1953
  • JFK and Jackie Kennedy's visit to the Château de Versailles in 1961
  • the wedding breakfast of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981
  • President Mitterrand hosting Bill Clinton for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994
  • President Mitterrand inaugurating the Channel Tunnel in 1994
  • Colonel Gaddafi's visit in a Bedouin tent in the grounds of the Hôtel Marigny in 2007
  • the presentation of Carla Bruni, recently married to President Sarkozy, to Queen Elizabeth II in 2008
  • the dinner following the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011

The collection has been put together by French chef and restaurateur Christophe Marguin over the last four decades years after acquiring the collection of French chef Henri Cédard who had woked for the British monarchy between 1885 and 1935. He built it up through purchases on ebay and secondhand booksellers. Although Marguin is selling the vast majority of his collection and hopes it will not be broken up and remain in France, he is retaining a few copies and two dozen menus signed by Presidents.