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Literary Paris Tips (25)

Auteuil: Molière, Heine, Donizetti (16th)

Here at what is now the corner of Rue d’Auteuil and Avenue Théophile Gautier is where the seventeenth century playwright Molière (1622-1673) once lived – not in this same house, which was built later, but in a smaller country house that was located here at the time.

Voltaire wrote seventy years later that Molière often used his country house “to recuperate from the fatigues of his profession, which are far greater than is usually thought.” This was not his main residence, however, since he also always had an apartment near his theater in Paris.

No doubt Molière did a lot of writing out here in the countryside, but supposedly he also used his country house for wild parties such as the one shown in the play Le Banquet d’Auteuil by Jean-Marie Besset, which was widely discussed while it was being performed in Paris in the spring of 2015. I didn’t get to see Le Banquet d’Auteuil, so I can’t give a personal opinion, but it certainly drew attention to Molière’s country house in Auteuil and also to his alleged bisexuality.

Second photo: The plaque reads: “Here stood a country house inhabited by Molière around 1667.”

For more on Molière, please see the third chapter of my Saint-Cyr-l’École intro page, as well as these three tips on my Lyon page and Molière and Lully at the Royal Opera in Versailles.

Third and fourth photos: I was glad to see that Auteuil has a street named after “Henri Heine, 1797-1856, German writer”. It took me a second to realize that this was Heinrich Heine, as he is known in Germany, but in France he was of course known as Henri. He lived in Paris for twenty-five years, at various addresses, but as far as I know he never lived in Auteuil (which at the time was not yet a part of Paris, anyway).

For more on Heine, please see my Bacharach, Düsseldorf and Hamburg intro pages.

Fifth photo: This street in Auteuil was called Rue de Montmorency until 1864, but then it was re-named in honor of the Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), who had spent many years in Paris and composed numerous operas in French for the Paris opera houses.

As I have explained on my profile page, my member name here on VirtualTourist is taken from one of Donizetti's Italian operas, L'elisir d'amore, which I have seen numerous times in Frankfurt am Main, Prague, Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Halle, Gießen, Paris and Vienna over the past few years. Nemorino in this opera is a guy who does everything wrong but gets the girl anyway, which is more or less the story of my life up to now, so I decided that might make an appropriate member name.

Next Auteuil review: Mirabeau Bridge

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Feb 07, 2016

Auteuil: The Loft of the Goncourts (16th)

In France there is a prestigious literary prize called the Le prix Goncourt, which is awarded each December to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year". The winner is decided by a panel of ten prominent writers known as the Académie Goncourt after its founder, the writer and publisher Edmond de Goncourt (1822–1896) and his brother Jules de Goncourt (1830–1870).

The prize has been awarded every year since 1903. Among the past winners were well-known writers such as Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras and Romain Gary.
See also:
• Marguerite Duras in Sa Đéc on my Vietnam page
• Marguerite Duras at Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris
• Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, also at Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris
• Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, a footbridge in Paris

I have just looked up the current membership list of the Académie Goncourt and found that I have read books by two of them: L’allée du Roi, a novel about Madame de Maintenon by Françoise Chandernagor and Les mots de ma vie (The words of my life) by Bernard Pivot, who was elected president of the Académie Goncourt in 2014.

The brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt moved into this house on Boulevard de Montmorency in 1868. They had a huge art collection, which they put on display in the house, and a large collection of books and manuscripts. After Jules died in 1870, Edmond lived in the house alone. Starting in 1885 he used the loft (le grenier) on the top floor for a Sunday literary salon which was attended by many prominent writers and artists of that era.

Second photo: In front of the house there is now a “History of Paris” sign entitled “The loft of the Goncourts”.

Third photo: The Académie Goncourt does not have an office (its ten members meet once a month in a restaurant), but the Goncourts’ house now belongs to the City of Paris and is used as the offices of La Maison des écrivains et de la littérature (House of writers and literature), an organization which aims to “integrate, represent and defend writers, and through them to promote literature.”

Fourth photo: A view of the Boulevard de Montmorency.

Fifth photo: The nearest café and restaurant is Le Beaujolais d’Auteuil, on the corner of Boulevard de Montmorency and Rue Poussin.

Address: 67 Boulevard de Montmorency – 75016 Paris
Directions: Location on the Vélib’ map. The nearest Vélib’ station is 16115 at 52 Rue Raffet.

Next Auteuil review: Villa Claude Lorrain (16th)

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Jan 16, 2016

Rue Jacob (6th)

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.

Update 2015: According to the French magazine Challenges, which publishes an annual ranking of real estate prices, Rue Jacob is currently the sixth most expensive street in Paris with a median price of € 14583 per square meter.

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

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Jan 10, 2016

Hemingway's Place de la Contrescarpe (5th)

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

Nemorino's Profile Photo
Apr 29, 2012
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45, Quai de la Tournelle 5th.

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.

pfsmalo's Profile Photo
Nov 07, 2009

Ginsberg & Burroughs & Corso, OH MY!!!

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...

tommyt1971's Profile Photo
May 20, 2008

Literary Pursuits in St-Germain-des-Prés

Beat Hotel
9 rue Git-le-Cœur, Paris 75006
Métro: St-Michel

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

alights upon

a yellow chair

-Spring is here!

Madame will be most happy to show you various Beat items.

Photos: April 2003

BeatChick's Profile Photo
May 02, 2008

Shakespeare and Co. a Literary Must See

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

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Apr 06, 2007
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"My Paris: not only operas and bicycles . . ."
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"Perambulations in Paris!"
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"London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation."
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"Paris - Over 40 years of love and hate."
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Hemingway's House

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.

barryg23's Profile Photo
May 20, 2006

Henry Miller & Richard Galen Osborn's apt

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.

BeatChick's Profile Photo
May 08, 2006

Galignani ~ Art Lovers Bookstore

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

Metro: Tuileries

Open 10:00 to 19:00
Closed: Sundays

Lady_Mystique's Profile Photo
Apr 23, 2006

Pursuing Patricia Wells

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

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Mar 21, 2006

Things To Do in Paris

Things to do

Saint Roch Church - Eglise

If you are in Paris on a Tuesday (except in mid-summer) you can attend a noontime chamber music concert in the beautiful setting of the Saint-Roch Church, one of the oldest and largest churches in...
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Palais Royal

If you understand French, you should have no trouble finding a guided walking tour of one of the districts of Paris on any day of the year. These are listed, for example, in a section called VISITES...
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River Seine Cruises

Who wants to look further than Paris on foot, in a different way can go boating. From the water, the view of the beautiful historic buildings and bridges spectacular a very different from the side....
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Comedie Francaise

Founded in 1690 by Louis XIV, the Comédie Française is still going strong as the world's oldest theater troupe. Their repertoire consists mainly of classic French plays from the 17th and 18th...
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Galerie Vivienne

This is one of several old galleries dating back to the early 19th Century. It was THE place to shop in its day and has had something of a resurgence in recent decades and is a great glimpse into...
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Tuileries - Jardin des Tuileries

I realize that I have only really been to Paris once for any length of time, and that was in 1950 when I was 12. My only subsequent visit(s) were the equivalent of a day trip in 1964. I would come in...
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Getting to Paris


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