The French Art of People Watching from Cafe Windows
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Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway spent considerable time in Paris in the 1920s and it was here he wrote his first novel. Part of the Lost Generation, Hemingway was influenced by other authors and artists, including Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce. His posthumous memoir, A Moveable Feast, immortalised that period of nostalgic Paris back to life.
A Moveable Feast
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
The original edition of A Moveable Feast was compiled and edited for publication by Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, in the capacity as his literary executor, after his death. It was published in 1964 and chronicled his observations, personal anecdotes and experiences in 1920s Paris. In 2009, a new edition called the A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition was published by Seán Hemingway, his grandson from his second marriage. New chapters that were left out previously are now included, and certain (unflattering) references to Seán's grandmother were removed.
Where To See Hemingway's Paris
Hemingway's hangouts were mostly located in the left bank of Paris, around the neighbourhoods of Quartier Latin, St-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse. He often walked from one place to another within these adjoining neighbourhoods, and his footsteps can still today be traced through many walking tours on offer or simply by creating an itinerary based on A Moveable Feast.
Lodgings, Residences and Offices
- Hôtel d'Angleterre, 44 rue Jacob 75006 - Formerly known as Hôtel Jacob et d'Angleterre, room number 14 was where Hemingway stayed with his wife Hadley and his son "Bumby" on their first night together in Paris.
- 39 rue Descartes 75005 - Hemingway rented the room on the top floor as an office for him to write.
- 74 rue du Cardinal-Lemoine 75005 - The first apartment Hemingway rented was on the third floor of this building.
- 113 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs 75006 - The next apartment Hemingway and his family lived in, which was above a saw mill. The building is now part of École Alsacienne.
- 27 rue de Fleurus 75006 - The address of Gertrude Stein, Hemingway's mentor who introduced him to the literary and artistic expats who lived in Paris. Stein was also godmother to Hemingway's son.
- 69 rue Froidevaux 75014: Following his divorce from Hadley in 1927, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer and moved here.
- 6 rue Férou 75006 - A later residence of Hemingway with his second wife Pauline, before they left Paris and moved to Key West, Florida.
- Hôtel-du-Mont-Blanc, 28 rue de la Huchette 75005 - During his frequent visits in the 1930s, Hemingway often stayed at this hotel near to Place St-Michel.
- Hôtel Ritz, 15 place Vendôme 75001 - Hemingway's preferred lodging in later years, particularly after World War II, when he revisited Paris. It was in 1956 at the Ritz Hotel that he found his trunks that had been in storage there, which contained the notes that he used to write A Moveable Feast. The bar here is named Hemingway's Bar in his honour.
Paris view from Les Deux Magots cafe
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Cafés, Bars and Restaurants
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank the cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and make plans.
- Les Deux Magots, 6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés 75006 - This was the place to be, and not only Hemingway sat there for hours to write and to chat with the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, its other notable patrons include Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde, Andre Malraux and Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
- Brasserie Lipp, 151 boulevard Saint-Germain 75006 - A favourite brasserie of Hemingway, it was yet another favourite haunts of the writer, philosphers and politicians of Paris.
- Café de Flore, 172 boulevard Saint-Germain 75006 - Yet another café within Saint-Germain that Hemingway spent a lot of his time at, usually to write while watching the world went by.
- La Closerie des Lilas, 171 boulevard du Montparnasse 75006 - Close to his apartment on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, this is one of Hemingway's favourite place to write and to admire the statue of Marshal Ney just in front of the café.
- Le Select, 99 boulevard du Montparnasse 75006 - Hemingway was often found to start his day with breakfast at Le Select, before settling down to write.
- La Coupole, 102 boulevard du Montparnasse 75014 - Another address frequently visited by Hemingway, located in close proximity to a few other celebrated cafés.
- La Rotonde, 105 boulevard du Montparnasse 75006 - Not a café that Hemingway had much regard for, as he opined "a first look into the smoky, high-ceilinged, table-crammed interior of the Rotonde gives the same feeling that hits you as you step into the bird house at the zoo."
- Café du Dôme, 108 boulevard du Montparnasse 75014 - Simply Le Dôme, the painter Jules Pascin and Hemingway met here, and their story commemorated in the chapter With Pascin at the Dôme. Today, it is a top fish restaurant with one Michelin star.
- M. Lavigne's Negre de Toulouse, 159 boulevard du Montparnasse 75015 - Hemingway came here for their cassoulet, but today an Italian restaurant called Restaurant Padova occupies the space.
- Café Falstaff, 42 rue du Montparnasse 75014 - Hemingway and Fitzgerald often drank here, and the sidewalk in front is reputed where Hemingway beat up another writer, Robert McAlmon, over deragotory remarks including that Hemingway was homosexual.
- Dingo Bar, 10 rue Delambre 75014 - This was where Hemingway first met Scott Fitzgerald, although soon after, this bar shut down. Currently, L'Auberge de Venise occupies this address.
- Harry's New York Bar, 5 rue Daunou 75002 - The address phonetically dubbed "sank roo doe noo", this bar located near the Opéra was a favourite hangout for most American expats including Hemingway.
- Le Trou dans la Mur, boulevard des Capucines 75009 - A relatively obscure bar which Hemingway also liked to go to, near Harry's and across from Café de la Paix.
- Café de la Paix, Place de l'Opéra 75009 - Hemingway and Hadley's first Christmas lunch was celebrated here.
- Café Pré aux Clercs, 30 rue Bonaparte 75005 - One of Hemingway's earliest find in Paris and quickly became his favourite, it is located very close to Hôtel d'Angleterre.
- Michaud's, 29 rue des Saints-Pères 75005 - Considered expensive to improverished Hemingway, this restaurant was where he went for a treat, and where James Joyce and his wife ate regularly. Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères currently occupies this address.
Other Notable Spots
Autumn in Luxembourg Garden
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- Musée du Luxembourg, 19 rue de Vaugirard 75006 - Hemingway frequented the museum to appreciate the Impressionist works of Cézanne, Monet and Manet. He also liked walking through Jardin du Luxembourg,
- Shakespeare & Co., 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 - The original shop was located at 12 rue de l'Odéon and ran by Sylvia Beach. Hemingway made use of its lending library extensively and also forwarded his mails here (like many expats in his time).
- The quais of River Seine - Hemingway particularly enjoyed his walks along the Seine, observing the fishermen of the river banks, and browsing through the books for sale by les bouquinistes. His favourite was around the Notre Dame area.
- Gare de Lyon: This was not a happy place for Hemingway, for Hadley lost a suitcase-full of all of his manuscripts at that time. He was, needless to say, devastated and had to start all over from memory.
- Rue Moufftard and Place de la Contrescarpe: A busy small street in the Quartier Latin, rue Moufftard was filled with market stalls where the Hemingways shopped when they were living in their apartment on rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. The street led into Place de la Contrescarpe, a green space that was often tranquil.
- Hippodrome de Longchamp and Hippodrome Auteuil: Hemingway had a keen interest in horse racing, and these were the two racetracks that went to fairly regularly.