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Our Story

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French Living has been Nottingham’s guilty secret since 1994, sitting at the top of King Street, a few steps away from Nottingham legend Brian Clough and the famous lions who proudly protect the Council House. Just like those familiar Nottingham landmarks, French Living remains pretty unchanged after all this time.

Stephane and Louise are still the proud owners; Head chef Jeremy is a part of the family since 1997 and Audrius seems to have been around forever!


It has been a journey, and French Living has grown and evolved over time, but its origins, its mission, the intention behind starting this business have never waived.



Stephane and Louise Launch French Living

Stephane and Louise Launch French Living


Stephane is the French half of this partnership, a Frenchman from the Mediterranean island of Corsica, and Louise is a Nottingham girl.

They met in Toulouse, and married in 1988.
And so the dilemma began for this French/English couple. Where do they create home, a base and establish roots?

Luckily for Nottingham, Louise won the toss.

You may be surprised to discover that French Living did not begin life as a restaurant.


French Living was originally created as a tiny shop, selling everything to do with food from France - cheese and wine, charcuterie, classic French grocery items and dishes, tableware, kitchen utensils and pots, table decorations…..

“There would be cheese, lots of cheese - goat’s, blue, soft, hard, the pungent selection box of a French fromagerie; spicy, peppery saucisson; mind-glowingly strong Amora dijon mustard; bottles of Ricard, aniseed heaven; Poulain chocolat chaud; large glass jars of cassoulet (wedding memories!); pain aux raisins with just the right amount of creme patissiere; crisp, light baguettes; confit de canard; petit beurre biscuits, great for soaking in tea; wine; fruit syrups - menthe, grenadine and citron with which to make your very own diabolo…..” - an extract from Louise’s book Come to the Table, published in 2004, describing the excitement of ideas as the concept was created, like a French shopping list of longed-for delicacies. 


And today, you can still buy all these items from the Deli.


Stephane in French Living as a shop in June 1994


Add a few stools and tables, et voila - a Café Corner!


Add a few stools and tables, et voila - a Café Corner!

It soon became clear that customers wanted to try the baguettes, the cheese, the goodies on offer in the shop, seduced by the smell of Stef’s espresso coffee.


And so, “we installed an espresso machine at the back of the shop, transforming the atmosphere again. The smell of coffee, threading its aroma around the sugary, savoury fragrance of recently baked croissants, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins and crisp, willowy baguettes, standing to attention in their tall woven basket, enticed customers into the shop. They would all stay longer…”


And today, you can still join Stef and the rest of the team for a morning coffee, maybe a cheeky croissant…..nothing changes.


Stephane & Louise in French Living as a cafe and shop


The Restaurant opens downstairs in the Toulousain Cellar


The Restaurant opens downstairs in the Toulousain Cellar

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French Living’s customers have always provided the clues for making this business successful. They wanted more seats. They wanted to hover, browse and sip coffee, chat with Stef, plan holidays, dinner menus…any excuse to stay a little longer in this delicious French haven.


And there just so happened to be the perfect space, waiting to be transformed into a cosy, French bistro…


“Beneath the shop was a huge damp cellar…….I had often joked about how fantastic it would be to hold a massive party down there, the high ceilings creating a feeling of spaciousness that would make you forget it was a windowless cellar….”


So work began to transform the shop storage cellar into a restaurant.


“… it was starting to look more and more like a Toulouse cellar restaurant, and it thrilled us both to think we were recreating a part of our beloved pink-bricked city.”


The original French Living restaurant began life downstairs in the red-bricked cellar, a sentimental reminder of Toulouse (the city where Stephane and Louise met and married )…..and just as Louise imagined, those bricks have now witnessed a huge number of parties, meals and celebrations!


French Living opens its basement as a restaurant in June 1996.




A Year of Celebration: French Living is 10 Years Old and Come to the Table is published

A Year of Celebration: French Living is 10 Years Old and Come to the Table is published

2004 was a busy year of celebrating. 

Big birthdays all round, for French Living, as well as for Louise! And a book launch to add to the mix, another good reason to crack open the Champagne.

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'Come to the Table' book launch 


The Shop-cum-Café Expands

The tragic loss of travel agent neighbour, Richard Jebb, and the closure of his long-standing independent business, gave French Living the opportunity to provide more seats for its hungry customers.

A simple hole in the wall opened up the shop to the next door unit, and the café suddenly felt like a café!

In memory of fellow independent businessman, Stephane and Louise created a plaque, and positioned it on the wall where Richard would stand selling his tailor-made holidays.

Today, Stephane also keeps Richard’s memory alive by organising Corsican holidays for French Living customers….

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The Richard Jebb plaque.

The changing face of French Living!

French Living restaurant opens on both floors

French Living restaurant opens on both floors


Word had spread about this small, cosy basement restaurant hidden away in the centre of Nottingham, and it was clear that more tables and chairs were needed. Customers wanted plats du jour, they wanted to eat out, rather than recreate the French experience in their own home with our deli and shop French goodies. So the decision was made to expand the restaurant on to both floors, removing the shop, deli and café.



Addition of the new Bar

We have re-organised the ground floor with the addition of an impressive oak/cedar wood bar, and steel suspended glass/bottle rack.

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