In the Parisian suburbs of the 19th century, establishments for drinking and dancing were commonly known as "guinguettes," the root of which, guinguet, means a sour white wine. In the late 1850s, the railway lines surrounding Paris expanded, allowing summer daytripping as a popular excursion. In St. Eloi, an innkeeper inspired by Robinson Crusoe built a chestnut treehouse guinguette. Nearby competition quickly copied the successful Crusoe theme, forming a miniature enclave of swashbuckling treehouse taverns and restaurants.
The forest setting allowed Parisians to unwind by drinking heavily at the treehouse bars and swinging on a nearby swing, or competing in a donkey race. Meals were hoisted up trees in baskets using rope pulley systems. In 1888, the owner of the original Robinson guinguette changed the name from "Le Grand Robinson" to "Le Vrai Arbre de Robinson" (The Real Robinson Tree) so as not to be confused with the copycats.
By the 1950s, people had gotten tired of the guinguette fashion, and one of the popular dance halls was sold to a Renault factory. In the 1970s, French singer Johnny Hallyday along with a few other backers invested in the Robinson village, hoping to revive the original "Le Vrai Abre de Robinson," but were unsuccessful. The last tavern standing closed in 1976, and for a short while, the Robinson Crusoe theme was replaced by an American Far West saloon and disco.
Now the village is a wealthy suburban area called Le Pessis-Robinson in memory of the town's jovial history. Skeletons of the original Robinson treehouse barely stand, but you can still make out the form of the curving staircase that took guests up to the little top floor hut so they could drink and have a wild time trying to get down.
· The Forgotten Treehouse Bars of Bygone Summers in Paris [MessyNessy Chic]
· All Treehouses posts [Curbed National]