amidst your spirit
poppies, currants and spices
an angel’s redoubt
To live on the left bank of Paris is to savor the “movable feast.” We chose an apartment near the places where the expatriate artists of the 1920’s hobnobbed, and within easy walking distance from where our daughter lives.
A café society
Never doubt that Paris is a café society. The cafés are ubiquitous and serve as the hub of social intercourse, from around 10 in the morning to 11 or so in the evening. Some never close. They all have their special character, history, and habitués.
on the horizon
a bar along Rue de Rennes
nestled in the rive gauche
a club favoring poets
portal for the soul
à la bon marché
ambrosial tea pour toi
centimes for your thoughts
It is sometimes said that the French are haughty, and waiters brash. I am not certain where such foul canards originate. Perhaps they are carry-overs from the chauvinistic era of Charles de Gaulle. For the most part, French waiters are among the most professional in the world, and occasionally when one is snooty in the famous cafés and restaurants, simply reply in the same coin, and you will not be perturbed.
Limitless beauty, countless options
calm at La Bastille
for the old guard has fallen
lull before the storm
to each mutual support
from each full effort
muse, mentor, mother,
That I might glean in your light
the unvarnished truth
last tango Paris
through windows a mirrored glimpse
of our souls’ content
Parisian green warmth
haute couture without pretense
in the City of Light
Certainly the French are proud, rightfully so, because no matter where you look in any direction in the city of Paris you find extraordinary beauty, in the architecture, the fashion, the museums and the arts. During our stay, we enjoyed an avant-garde exposition of the sculpture of Daniel Buren at the Gran Palais, a production of Roméo et Juliette at the Opéra Bastille, a concert highlighted by a star soprano of the National Opera in Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, a fashion show organized by the Parsons School held at the Cirque d’Hiver, and a recital of Gregorian Chants in Notre Dame Cathedral. On a magnificent Sunday afternoon, we watched the horse races at Auteuil, where Ernest and Hadley picnicked and gambled to supplement his modest income as a cub reporter for the Toronto Star.
take me to the races
buy me a ticket to show
‘splendor in the grass’
a siren call to you
far beyond the opaque truth
Paris never rests on its laurels. For example, you will find a man-made beach along the Seine in summertime, or the juxtaposition of classic and ultra- modern architecture at the Louvre, thanks to I. M. Pei’s creation of the Pyramide before the ancient palace. Parisians make continuous effort to innovate and improve their city. The bus system is excellent: buses run frequently, are on time, and are reasonably comfortable.
Lest you think that my praise of Paris is unending, I’ll mention a few negatives. Living costs in the most popular arrondissements (wards) of the city are high, graffiti of an ugly un-artistic variety proliferates, and far too many people litter the streets with their cigarette butts, an unneeded burden on tax payers, who foot the bill to clean up afterwards. Also, some residents selfishly do not clean up the poop of their dogs, requiring that you tread carefully to avoid a stinky mishap.
The roaring 20’s
filigree basket of dreams
shattered and fulfilled
Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy—Ernest Hemingway
foie gras, fig jam, brew
in Hemingway style
Paris is a wonderfully city to stroll, and if you want to walk the streets where Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, John Dos Passos, Sherwood Anderson, E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and other expatriate writers lived and worked, stroll through the 6th arrondissement.
Consider the Jardin du Luxembourg as the hub of that area, surrounded by Boulevards Raspail, Montparnasse, Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel, as well as by Rue de Vaugirard. Ernest Hemingway frequently walked through the Garden and studied the master French impressionist painters in the Palais du Luxembourg and its museum, whose art is now ensconced in the Musée d’Orsay.
tourists pack cafés
Parisians flock gardens
Of course, these artists also frequented the right bank. When Ernest Hemingway first came to Paris he and Hadley walked down the Rue de Opéra and ate at Café de la Paix. Hemingway, somewhat tight with his wallet (or Hadley’s trust fund) could not pay the bill. Hadley was kept hostage while Ernest had to scramble back to the Hôtel Jacob on the left bank to get money.
The Bloody Mary and the Sidecar were created at Harry’s New York Bar, 5 Rue Daunou on the right bank, a quick walk from l’Opéra. Hemingway cooled down in this bar, after boxing at the Montmartre Sportif. The bar was also a favorite haunt of Fitzgerald.
But the left bank was the fulcrum of the artistic action then, where Sylvia Beach operated Shakespeare & Co. her bookstore and lending library in support of the artists, and Hemingway described in A Movable Feast as a “warm, cheerful place….new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living….and even the dead writers look as if they had really been alive.” The original Shakespeare & Co. was located at 12 Rue de l’Odéon. It was closed during the German occupation of Paris during 1941 and reopened in a different location in 1951.
The left bank is where Hemingway rented his 1st, 2nd and 3rd apartments.
When he returned to Paris in 1924, Hemingway’s second residence was at 113 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. It has since been torn down, but you can see the street, where he could walk in a quick 5 minutes to his favorite cafés along Boulevard Montparnasse, and particularly to Closerie des Lilas, Hemingway finished “Big Two-Hearted River here,” by his own account the “best [short story] he had written “by a long shot.” He would write in his notebook at the left end of the bar shown in this picture:
Hemingway drank here
his cup runneth way over
fecund Paris life
Hemingway moved into this final residence at 6 Rue Ferou after marrying Pauline Pfeiffe, assistant to the editor for Vogue Paris. Her Uncle Gus paid the rent.
The left bank is also where Hemingway’s principal mentors, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson and John Dos Passos lived, helping him claw his way up from an unpublished, aspiring writer to first critical acclaim as a novelist with publication of The Sun Also Rises.
And the left bank is where Hemingway first met Fitzgerald at Le Dingo Bar, where William Faulkner stayed a few months at 42 Rue de Vaugirard, and where James Joyce stayed at 9 Rue de l’Université before and after publication of Ulysses.
Zelda languished here
The Fitzgerald left bank home
Great Gatsby’s retreat
Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner all attended service at Saint Sulpice Church. The Café de la Mairie across from Place Sulpice was a popular hang-out of writers.
Other left bank haunts of Hemingway et al
Head away from the Seine walking southeast along Boulevard Raspail to its intersection with Boulevard du Montparnasse. There you will find four cafés/restaurants facing or next to one another. They were a hub of expatriate life in the roaring 20’s. These are Café du Dôme, Le Sélect, La Coupole, and La Rotonde. These places are described in Hemingway’s fiction or in the works or letters of other expatriates writing at that time.
Three other cafés frequented by Hemingway and other expatriate artists are located near Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church, found at the intersection of Rue de Rennes and Boulevard Germain. Enjoy a class of wine at Les Deux Magots and imagine Hemingway writing and hobnobbing here. Its patrons included André Malraux, Simon de Beauvoir, Pablo Picasso, and Oscar Wilde.
Hemingway’s life was larger than his art. In A Moveable Feast, he celebrates its magnificence:
“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 City of Light shines always. Vive La France, Vive La Paris!
All the best,
Warren J. Devalier
©2012 Warren J. Devalier