Literary Paris, Paris
At 12 rue Jacob in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of the 6th arrondissement there are several galleries including the Galerie Nathalie Motte Masselink, featuring “Old Master and Contemporary Paintings and Drawings” and the Nakaniwa Gallery, which specializes in handmade products made in the “Honmono” tradition in Japan. They explain that Honmono “is a Japanese concept describing a product or experience creating a subjective impression of authenticity, historical and technical depth and sincerity on the part of all those involved in the creative process.”
The entrance doors at 12 rue Jacob are usually open, so you can go into the courtyard and have a look around.
Second photo: On your left as you enter the courtyard there is a curving stone staircase of the type that was common in Paris in bygone centuries. (And there is a motorcycle of the type that causes huge amounts of noise and air pollution in the 21st century.)
Third photo: In the courtyard you can find this boutique called La Compagnie du Kraft which claims to be “the least productive producer of notebooks in the western world.” They say they have been “making notebooks for professional forest rangers and butchers since 1930. For guys with the hands of a lumberjack or killer. So our notebooks aren’t meant to be handy, practical or ‘user friendly’. They’re made for bruisers. But if you’re looking for a tough tool that almost nobody else has or uses, and your patience is as limitless as your love for life off the beaten track, then our indestructible notebooks are for you.”
Fourth photo: On the other side of the courtyard is a gallery called David Ghezelbash Archéologie, which “presents a selection of archeological artworks specialized in the Mediterranean basin: Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Oriental art.”
Fifth photo: Rue Jacob is a fashionable street with a number of art galleries and such, but it is actually not very pleasant because of the narrow sidewalks and the parked cars on both side of the street. As everywhere in Paris, the car drivers have to pay to park here – the outgoing mayor claims to have eliminated all free on-street parking – but that is not much consolation to the pedestrians who have hardly any room to walk around.
There used to be a famous cabaret at 12 rue Jacob, the “Echelle de Jacob”, which was where singers like Jacques Brel began their careers in the 1950s. This cabaret later turned into a fairly ordinary cocktail lounge, and today if you click on their website you can only read that L'Echelle de Jacob is now permanently closed since Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
Next door at number 14 is where the German composer Richard Wagner lived from October 1841 to April 1842 – not a very successful period of his life. (For my take on this controversial composer, see my Personal Page aka Album Operas by Richard Wagner.)
Just up the street at number 20 was where the American playwright, poet and novelist Natalie Clifford Barney (1876—1972) held her famous literary salon for more than sixty years, from 1909 until the late 1960s. Barney herself wrote mainly in French, often about lesbian themes. At her salon she brought prominent French authors into contact with visiting or expatriate English-language writers such as Somerset Maugham, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Thornton Wilder and T. S. Eliot, as well as the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, among many others.
Directions: Location of 12 rue Jacob on the Vélib’ map. The closest Vélib’ station is 6013 on rue Jacques Callot.
Next Paris review from March 2014: Rue Monttessuy
a new artistic center in paris, performers, expositions, walks on passarelle,conferences, concerts, and all this is the new Eléphant Paname.
It is in the building done by the ambassasor of Russia in the 1920's and now renovated.
It has a superb restaurant managed by a sommelier champion in 2004 Enrico Bernardo.
10 rue de Volney, 75002
tel resto +33 (0) 1 40 15 20 30
This is one of the more pleasant little squares in the Latin Quarter, 5th arrondissement.
The American author Ernest Hemingway used to live nearby, and he described the square in his short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, first published in 1936:
[...] Place Contrescarpe where the flower sellers dyed their flowers in the street and the dye ran over the paving where the autobus started and the old men and the women, always drunk on wine and bad mare; and the children with their noses running in the cold; the smell of dirty sweat and poverty and drunkenness at the Cafe' des Amateurs and the whores at the Bal Musette they lived above. The concierge who entertained the trooper of the Garde Republicaine in her loge, his horse-hair-plumed helmet on a chair. The locataire across the hall whose husband was a bicycle racer and her joy that morning at the cremerie when she had opened L'Auto and seen where he placed third in Paris-Tours, his first big race. She had blushed and laughed and then gone upstairs crying with the yellow sporting paper in her hand. The husband of the woman who ran the Bal Musette drove a taxi and when he, Harry, had to take an early plane the husband knocked upon the door to wake him and they each drank a glass of white wine at the zinc of the bar before they started. He knew his neighbors in that quarter then because they all were poor.
Around that Place there were two kinds; the drunkards and the sportifs. The drunkards killed their poverty that way; the sportifs took it out in exercise. They were the descendants of the Communards and it was no struggle for them to know their politics. They knew who had shot their fathers, their relatives, their brothers, and their friends when the Versailles troops came in and took the town after the Commune and executed any one they could catch with calloused hands, or who wore a cap, or carried any other sign he was a working man. And in that poverty, and in that quarter across the street from a Boucherie Chevaline and a wine cooperative he had written the start of all he was to do. There never was another part of Paris that he loved like that, the sprawling trees, the old white plastered houses painted brown below, the long green of the autobus in that round square, the purple flower dye upon the paving, the sudden drop down the hill of the rue Cardinal Lemoine to the River, and the other way the narrow crowded world of the rue Mouffetard. The street that ran up toward the Pantheon and the other that he always took with the bicycle, the only asphalted street in all that quarter, smooth under the tires, with the high narrow houses and the cheap tall hotel where Paul Verlaine had died. There were only two rooms in the apartments where they lived and he had a room on the top floor of that hotel that cost him sixty francs a month where he did his writing, and from it he could see the roofs and chimney pots and all the hills of Paris.
(From this text it appears that Hemingway had a bicycle when he lived in Paris in the 1920s.)
Vélib' 5016, 1 rue Thouin
48°50'39.86" North; 2°20'58.32" East
After being demobilized in 1919, American writer and artist John Dos Passos stayed in the apartment of a friend, and even started "Three Soldiers" here and sets part of the book on the "quai". Quai de la Tournelle serves also as part of "A pushcart at the curb" from 1922.
The building now houses the offices of the Public Assistance museum next door.
Nearest metro is Maubert-Mutualité.
Last Xmas I was at a bookstore with a friend & she came across a great little book: "The Beat Hotel" by Barry Miles. Tells the story of the Beat writers/poets & when/how/where they lived in Paris. I later gave the book to her as a gift & I've since ordered it for myself - just have to pick it up at my favorite bookstore... no, wait, I have to REMEMBER to pick it up at my favr bookstore!
The address of the Beat Hotel is 9, rue Git-le-Coeur in the Quartier Latin. It's a short & narrow street not far from the Place St. Michel. All you gotta do is start at St Michel, facing the river. Turn left, walk along the Seine on the Quai des Grands Augustins for one block & you'll hit rue Git-le-Coeur. Turn left, & look for #9 on your left.
I'd like to believe that it was a seedy fleabag of a place when the Beats lived there, merely a place to flop or write in btwn excursions to underground jazz bars, sex clubs, restaurants, bars & bohemian events they may have attended.
Then again, I should probably read the book, I'm picking it up tonight, fortunately the bookstore is right near my laundromat...
9 rue Git-le-Cœur, Paris 75006
Formerly known as the Hôtel Rachou, now known as the Hôtel de Vieux Paris, Beat writers/poets Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs & Gregory Corso stayed here during the 1950s when it was a mere flophouse above a bar. Jack Kerouac, father of the Beats, never stayed here but he did visit; he stayed around the corner at 28, rue St-Andre-des-Arts.
How ironic that the hotel is now, at the very least, a 207€/night room (for a mere deluxe, mind you) with a 13€ breakfast. Oh my!
Here I took photos of the various Beats' pictures hanging on the wall and also of the drawings & photos inside the hotel register; but, alas, there were none of Kerouac. The last known Beat entry was of Corso's in the early '90s shortly before he died. Note the poem in the photo he wrote for the hotel:
a blue bird
a yellow chair
-Spring is here!
Madame will be most happy to show you various Beat items.
Photos: April 2003
Well, Shakespeare and Co. in the heart of Paris was a must see for me. It was at the top of my list ever since I found that Hemingway had spent a lot of time there and it was one of the only bookstores in Paris where you could find English books at the time. It's crammed full of books and great for those of us who dwell in literary places. But, hands down, the best trip I made was the climb up the steep, rickety stairs to the upstairs where there was a ton more books, little nooks to sit and read and a couple of offices where people would sit and talk about literary matters. Study its history before you go and then sit and read and partake in one of the richest holes in Paris
Ernest Hemingway is just one of the many famous writers to have lived in Paris. Hemingway came here in the 1920s, after serving in WW1, and his first house in Paris was in the Rue de Cardinal Lemoine. The house still stands today at No 73 and is a private residence. There is a plaque on the wall outside the house acknowledging that he lived here with a nice quote from "A Moveable Feast". This was one of his last books, and is a memoir of his early days as struggling writer in 1920s Paris.
2 rue Auguste Bartholdi - 15th arr
This was the home of Henry Miller, the American expatriate writer famous for his book Tropic of Cancer, when he lived with Richard Galen Osborn. Miller credited Osborn with saving him from starvation while he waited on money from his wife, June, as noted in the above-mentioned book.
If you've seen the movie, Henry & June, you'll recognize Osborn's character as played by Kevin Spacey.
You may read more about Henry Miller in the superb Parisian expatriate guide Expatriate Paris: A Cultural & Literary Guide to Paris of the 1920s.
Just a few blocks from Le Village Suisse.
A 200-year-old 'landmark' !
Once a publisher of the first English-language newspaper in Paris as well as a book publisher, and a reading room until the end of the 19th century, and still in the hands of the Galignani family.
This bookshop has been at the same address since 1845.
It is now specialized in—and celebrated for—international ART books; you can find all the best books about the arts and fashion, but you may also find artists and fashion designers browsing too.
224, rue de Rivoli, Paris 1st
Phone: 33(0)1 42 60 76 07
Open 10:00 to 19:00
Patricia Wells' apartment
10 rue Jacob, Paris 75006
Patricia Wells is the author of the definitive foodie texts Food Lover's Guide to Paris and Food Lover's Guide to France as well as being an internationally-known American critic of French cuisine for the Herald-Tribune. Apparently, she is the only American food critic to whom the French will pay attention. I dub her the hallowed gastronomic grande dame.
For several weeks throughout the year she hosts weeklong cooking classes in this home. As they are every OTHER week somehow I manage to miss it each year. Classes are now being offered for 2006 which must mean that all 2005 classes are filled. :(
During my visit April 2003, Madame next door pushed the door code buttons for me and I was able to see, but not gain entry to, the courtyard but I took a picture of Patricia's mailbox. How creepy, you say!
I had the great pleasure of meeting Mrs. Wells last June when she was promoting her newest foodie tome The Provence Cookbook. I explained to her that I tracked down her Paris abode and took photos of her mailbox. She responded with a "how charming!"
She states that she still refuses to step foot in Bofinger due to their lacksadaisical service and opines that Starbucks burns their beans which produces that bitter taste in their espresso which is unknown in France.
And I'm sure she's changed the door code by now! ;) But you can e-mail me for that anyway!!
Just steps from the site of Natalie Barney's apartment and not too far from the historic H?tel d'Angleterre.
Photos: April 2003
Natalie Barney's literary salons (20, rue Jacob ~ 6th arrondissement) rivaled Gertrude Stein's. Due to the long-lived enmity between James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, Joyce opted to hang out here instead. This was also the preferred salon for poet, Ezra Pound.
In the garden there is reputed to be a well leading to a tunnel under the Seine to the Louvre but the garden was locked & overgrown; I could see nothing, not even the famed Greek Temple.
Just a few doors down at 10 rue Jacob is American food critic Patricia Wells' apartment in Paris; this is where she holds her cooking classes (reserve WELL in advance). Around the corner on rue Bonaparte is the divine salon de thé, Ladurée, which serves the most wondrous macarons (not those hard coconut-infused macaroons one finds in the US) in a plethora of flavours.
You can read more about Natalie Barney, this story and expatriates in Arlen J. Hansen's inimitable Expatriate Paris: A Cultural & Literary Guide to Paris of the 1920s.
Photo: April 2003 & Feb 2006
39 rue Descartes
On the top floor
A man's gotta write SOMEWHERE! When the cafes get overcrowded or your friends know where to find you, your best bet is to rent out a cold top room in a hovel of a building. Better yet, make that in Paris and why not a place that's associated with another literary giant?
Well, that's what Hemingway did. This apartment was located just around the corner from his apartment at 74 rue du Cardinal-Lemoine where he lived with his first bride, Hadley.
Hemingway claimed in his memoirs, A Moveable Feast, that he worked in the same room where the dissolute French poet Verlaine died (January 8, 1896, in the home of a prostitute). Ahh, the ghosts of old, dead writers to keep one warm and to fuel one's thoughts. It was so cold that he had to keep his clementines in his pocket while he worked in order to keep them from freezing. Hem couldn't have been too poor, though, if he could afford a separate apartment in which to work, no matter how desolate the place!
Photos: Feb 2006
Hemingway's Apartment in Paris
74 rue du Cardinal-Lemoine – 4th floor apt.
A man's gotta live SOMEWHERE! This is the first place where Hemingway lived with his 1st wife, Hadley. This building has a plaque on the front stating as such.
They moved here January 9, 1922 after their initial stay at the Hotel Jacob (which is now known as the Hotel d'Angleterre). They lived here a little over a year & a half before moving August 1923 to Toronto, Canada so their son (Bumby, father to Mariel & Margot Hemingway) could be born in North America.
Just around the corner at 39 rue Descartes, Hem worked in the same room where the poet Verlaine had died.
Photos: Feb 2006
Many people think of the Hôtel d'Angleterre as just a nice hotel to stay at on rue Jacob, another nice hotel amongst a slew of nice hotels in this area; few realize its historic political & literary significance.
Formerly the British Embassy, Benjamin Franklin once refused to set foot on "British soil". However, it WAS here that he, John Jay & John Adams worked out details of the treaty with England; just a few steps down the street at #56 (indicated by plaque) these 3 eminent men signed the peace treaty with the British September 3, 1783.
In 1777, Franklin & his 2 grandsons lived at #52. His American compatriot, Thomas Jefferson, was also a guest at the d'Angleterre.
The original name of this hotel was Hôtel Jacob then changed in 1925 to Hôtel Jacob-et-d'Angleterre before settling on its current appellation.
Moving forward we see that this was the first hotel where Hemingway & his bride Hadley (grandmother to Margo & Mariel) stayed (Dec 1921) before taking digs of on rue Cardinal-Lemoine in the Quartier Latin.
Other illustrious writers/artists include Djuna Barnes, Sherwood Anderson (a favorite of Gertrude Stein - over whom she & Hemingway had a falling out), and Man Ray, the famous artist/photographer.
At #20, Natalie Barney held her famous literary salons. Patricia Wells' Paris apartment is located at #10. And on the corner of rue Jacob & rue Bonaparte you'll find the most divine macarons at Ladurée.
Photos: Feb 06