La Felicità, Europe’s largest restaurant

Station F, the world’s largest start-up campus, includes an Italian-themed 24/7 restaurant called La Felicità (which means happiness in Italian).

With five kitchens and a thousand indoor seats (plus another five hundred outdoor seats on the terrace), La Felicità claims to be the largest restaurant in Europe, which certainly seems plausible. This restaurant is open to the public, not only to the budding entrepreneurs of Station F.

There used to be five railroad tracks in this hall, where freight trains were unloaded and re-loaded for over ¾ of a century. Most of the tracks were removed when the building was renovated and re-purposed from 2013 to 2017, but two short sections of track and several old-timey passenger wagons were preserved. These wagons have been coupled together into two short trains, one of which is now a walk-through train where people can buy ice cream and other desserts.

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Appropriately, the restaurant La Felicità is managed by a former start-up company, now well-established, namely the Big Mamma group, an innovative restaurant group founded in Paris in 2013 by two young French entrepreneurs, Tigrane Seydoux and Victor Lugger. Their company now has seven restaurants in Paris, and several more in other European cities.

(Tigrane Seydoux, born 1984, is a distant cousin of the actress Léa Seydoux, born six months later, but he claims he has never even met her. Both are members of the far-flung Seydoux Fornier de Clausonne family, one of the most prominent — and no doubt wealthiest — families in France.)

In La Felicità, at the back end of Station F in Paris

I think there must be some way to order and pay for your food and drink without a smartphone, but the default method is to whip out your phone (if for some reason you don’t have it in your hand already), access their app using one of the many QR-codes scattered around the restaurant, and then place your order with a few taps on the screen. After a short wait, they will send you a text message (SMS) telling you where to pick up your order. I have never done this, so I don’t know exactly how it works, but it seems quite similar to the method used at McDo and other international fast-food joints in Paris. I assume you have to register the first time you do this, so they will already have your bank account on file along with your permission to delete the amounts from your account.

My visit to La Felicità was in the morning, shortly after I had eaten breakfast at my hotel, so I didn’t attempt to eat or drink anything there.

Toilets in La Felicità

Even the toilets at La Felicità were designed by a start-up company, in this case Trone, a young start-up that was or maybe still is enrolled in one of the support programs at Station F.

The entrance to the toilet area, as shown in my photo on the left, is identified only by two words in English, on the theory that these will be understood by everyone.

Apparently each toilet cubicle has its own unique design. My photo on the right shows one of them.

My photos and text in this post are from 2023.

See also: Station F for startups and Parvis Alan Turing.

18 thoughts on “La Felicità, Europe’s largest restaurant”

    1. I’ve never eaten there, but I’ve heard good things about their food. Before opening their first restaurant, the two founders say they spent two years in Italy, lining up suppliers who could deliver fresh ingredients to Paris more or less daily. They figured that even if the restaurants didn’t work out, they would at least have the two years in Italy.

  1. I’ve heard of La Felicità and even bookmarked to go there for food, but I never got around to it. I had no idea that it was considered the largest restaurant in Europe, but from your photos, I can see that it’s by no means tiny! Perhaps I’m old-schooled, but I’m not very tech savvy when it comes to QR codes to order food and would much prefer a physical menu and to order in person…but with these changing times, we must learn to adapt. At least, your experience at La Felicità had you face-to-face with a cheeky wall decoration in the bathroom! 😉

  2. We had a similar problem when trying to find something for dinner at the University of Virginia. The facility we chose only accepted orders from the Grin Hub app. We tried many times to order but couldn’t get it to work. My husband finally drove to a nearby store and ordered us a sandwich to share.

  3. My husband has a smart phone, but I’m sure he doesn’t know how to use it and certainly wouldn’t be ordering anything at that restaurant. He got it during the COVID fiasco to hold his vaccination certificate so we could enter a restaurant or transportation while in France. To this day, it’s really all he can use it for and, of course, doesn’t need it for that any more.

    I like the carpets on the floor. It makes the place seem a bit smaller and warmer.

    1. As a more-or-less daily computer user since 1983, I used to think I was reasonably computer-savvy. (Also I helped introduce a new database system at work, where I wrote the user handbook and trained 150-some colleagues in the new system.) But then the smartphones came along and turned everything on its head. When I got my second smartphone recently, I spent several days systematically learning how to use it, so I am doing somewhat better this time around.

      1. Thanks Don.. had a hectic time for past couple of years …. moved house … loads of travel around Australia (new car and caravan)….. would love to write again but not sure if ill get round to it.. lets see….

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a restaurant with 1500 covers. I don’t think I can even imagine one! The first time we came across “smart ordering” was in Sibenik, Croatia – and neither of us had a device with us. The look on the waitress’s face when she realised that two human beings could be let out on their own without even a phone was…..well, she was incredulous .

    1. Yes, the domination of smartphones has happened very quickly, since the first iPhone didn’t even come out on the market until 2007. My grandsons find it hard to believe that for over ten years I used a tiny phone that didn’t even have an internet connection.

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