Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - The Moveable Feast of Hemingway's Paris
Ernest Hemingway immortalized 1920s Paris in his memoir A Moveable Feast. For any literary traveler, reading Hemingway’s vivid descriptions of Parisian cafés, shops, and streets brings them to life. Walking in the footsteps of Hemingway allows you to imagine Paris as he experienced it — a paradise for artists, writers, and intellectuals.
Stroll by Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts. Grab an outdoor table, order a café crème, and watch the boulevard hum with activity, just as Hemingway did back in the day. Nearby is Les Deux Magots, another café Hemingway frequented. Inside you’ll find photos of the famous authors and artists who gathered there, like Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir. imaging the lively debates they might have had.
Make your way to the Rue Mouffetard neighborhood, where Hemingway lived in a cheap apartment. Browse the open-air market for fresh produce like Hemingway did, then stop for a boozy lunch at Le Verre à Pied. When Hemingway needed to escape noisy Paris, he would walk along the quays of the Seine or go fishing. Follow in his footsteps and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere along the riverbanks.
Of course you have to visit Shakespeare and Company, the famous English bookstore. Hemingway was a regular patron and befriended its original owner, Sylvia Beach. The current shop captures the cozy, communal vibe of Sylvia’s time. Make a literary pilgrimage to the adjuvant Luxembourg Gardens, where Hemingway would go to write. Sit on the edge of the fountain near the Medici Palace and imagine Papa typing away on his typewriter nearby.
For the full Hemingway experience, head north to Montparnasse, which was a hub for expatriate writers and artists. Have a drink at La Coupole, an enormous Art Deco brasserie. In the evenings, local painters and poets gathered here over wine and conversation. Hemingway also hung out at the Dôme Café next door. Try to envision the intellectual fervor and creativity that electrified these cafés in the 1920s.
What else is in this post?
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - The Moveable Feast of Hemingway's Paris
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Flâneur Through the Streets with Baudelaire
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Strolling Along the Seine with Simone de Beauvoir
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Dining Out with Julia Child's Paris Kitchen
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Living La Vie Bohème with Murger's Scenes of Parisian Life
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Visiting the Haunts of Victor Hugo's Hunchback
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Exploring the Cafés of Sartre's Existentialism
- Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Walking the Promenades with Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Flâneur Through the Streets with Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire, the French poet and literary provocateur, captured the essence of 19th century Parisian life in his writings. Baudelaire was the quintessential flâneur – the sophisticated urban stroller who explores the city at leisure, observing society from the sidewalk cafés.
To channel your inner flâneur, start where Baudelaire himself began his wanderings – the Île Saint-Louis. This small island on the Seine exudes old Paris charm with its 17th century architecture and quiet cobblestone streets. Baudelaire lived here as a young man, when it was still an artists’ enclave just outside the city center. Stroll the quays along the river, as Baudelaire immortalized in his poem “Le Cygne” (“The Swan”). Gaze at Notre Dame in the distance, pastel-colored houses lining the riverbanks.
Make your way to the Luxembourg Gardens, where Baudelaire found inspiration for his poem “Les Fleurs du Mal” (“The Flowers of Evil”). The manicured palace gardens contrast with the gritty themes of Baudelaire’s poetry, underscoring the great divisions in 19th century Paris between rich and poor.
Continue west to the literary district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This is where Baudelaire and his circle of bohemian friends gathered in the smoky cafés to debate art and philosophy late into the night. Stop for a coffee at Les Deux Magots, picturing Baudelaire at a corner table scribbling notes and observing the colorful characters around him.
Further west lies the avant-garde Montparnasse neighborhood. La Rotonde café was the unofficial headquarters of the Lost Generation writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald who congregated here in the 1920s. However, Baudelaire’s spirit still lingered in the smoky, creative energy of the place. Order an aperitif and tap into the electric ambience that inspired great writers generations ago.
As twilight falls, cross the river and let your inner flâneur loose on the streets of the Latin Quarter. Baudelaire loved wandering these winding medieval lanes. Stop for a photo by the Fontaine Saint-Michel, featured in his poem “Les Sept Vieillards” (“The Seven Old Men”). The fading light casts an atmospheric glow on the old Parisian facades.
End your literary ramble at Boulevard Saint-Germain near Odéon metro. This was site Les Paradis, the art gallery and café owned by Baudelaire’s friend Constantin Guys. linger outside and imagine the two friends huddled inside, critiquing the latest paintings and their depictions of Parisian life.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Strolling Along the Seine with Simone de Beauvoir
Feminist icon and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best known for her groundbreaking book The Second Sex, which examined the treatment of women throughout history. But to truly understand de Beauvoir and the origins of her thinking, one must stroll the streets of Paris she called home.
De Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908 and lived much of her life in the City of Light. The cafés, bookshops, and winding streets along the Seine inspired her ideas and fueled her intellectual pursuits. Walking in her footsteps offers insight into the environment that shaped one of the great feminist thinkers of the 20th century.
Begin at her childhood home at 9 Rue de Rennes on the Left Bank. De Beauvoir grew up in this upper middle class household before rebelling against her bourgeois upbringing as a teenager. Not far away is Café de Flore, where De Beauvoir and her lifelong partner Jean-Paul Sartre spent endless hours writing and debating existentialist philosophy.
Stroll east along Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the central artery of the Left Bank where many of Paris' famous cafés and brasseries line the streets. De Beauvoir and Sartre were regulars at Les Deux Magots, envisioning the young couple huddled over books and coffee inside.
Continue along the bustling Boulevard Saint-Michel, where you can browse the book stalls lining the river's edge. De Beauvoir spent hours here searching for titles that weren't available elsewhere. Duck into a few of the independent bookshops that are still scattered throughout the area.
Make your way to Shakespeare and Company, the famous English language bookstore that attracted bohemian writers and artists. De Beauvoir supported the original shop under Sylvia Beach during WWII Nazi occupation, when it became a gathering space for resistance intellectuals.
Cross the pedestrian bridge to the Île de la Cité and stroll the river quays, one of De Beauvoir's favorite areas for contemplation. Standing on Pont Neuf, she remarked that "it is always a great delight to get a breathing space between stone and river.”
End your walk on Quai de Bourbon on Île Saint-Louis, where De Beauvoir lived with Sartre after the war. Their fourth floor apartment had panoramic views of the Seine - the perfect vantage point for the existential discussions that shaped The Second Sex and De Beauvoir's views on women's struggle for liberation and purpose.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Dining Out with Julia Child's Paris Kitchen
Julia Child wasn't always America's favorite French chef. In fact, when she first moved to Paris in 1948 with her husband Paul, she could barely cook! Yet the dishes Child learned to master in Paris kitchens became the foundation for her legendary career. Reliving Julia's Parisian dining education offers a tasty trip for any fan.
Wander through Les Halles, where Julia savored her first French meal at La Couronne. She called their sole meunière "an opening up of the soul and spirit for me." Nearby, pop into École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse for a cooking class to channel your inner Julia. The Rue de Seine is dotted with galleries like those Julia explored before discovering her true calling in the kitchen.
Rue de l'Exposition was home to L'École des Trois Gourmandes, where Julia had her breakthrough as a cook. The school is now closed, but you can glimpse the building and envision Julia toiling away inside. Julia also learned from local chefs like Max Bugnard, who owned the long-closed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Stand outside where it once operated on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, picturing Julia eagerly absorbing French cuisine secrets.
When Julia longed for a taste of home, she bought ingredients at the American Food Store, now replaced by a Ladurée macaron shop. But Julia's old stomping grounds, like the former Rothschild mansion that housed the US Embassy Club, still dot the Golden Triangle neighborhood.
Of course, no Julia Child pilgrimage is complete without visiting the original Le Cordon Bleu. Julia honed her skills in their kitchens along with fellow American students. Take their cooking course to walk a mile in Julia's apron, learning classic French techniques like sauce velouté and pâté en croûte.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Living La Vie Bohème with Murger's Scenes of Parisian Life
Paris in the 1840s was a melting pot of artists, writers, philosophers, and bohemians converging in the cafés and garrets of the Latin Quarter. At the center of this creative whirlwind was Henri Murger, whose stories immortalized the struggles and passions of young Romantics chasing inspiration in the City of Light. Murger's tales follow a group of impoverished writers and artists living la vie bohème, reveling in their freedom while scrambling to survive.
Retrace Murger's footsteps through the winding streets where his characters found love, friendship, heartbreak and artistic awakening. Begin at 10 Rue d'Enfer near Place Denfert-Rochereau, where his stories took place in the rooming house called the Hôtel du Gaillardbois. Imagine the lively dinner parties held here, where Rodolphe and his fellow bohemians drank, declaimed poetry and debated big ideas late into the night.
Stroll along Rue Monsieur le Prince, stopping at a classic brasserie like La Palette for steak frites and red wine. Envision Rodolphe and Marcel splurging on a meal here after selling a story, forgetting their poverty for one night of revelry. Absorb the nostalgic ambiance of the Latin Quarter's old stone lanes and let your creative spirit come alive.
Make your way to 13 Rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, now a historic plaque honoring Murger. But in his day it was Café Momus, where the story's characters hung out enjoying drinks, oysters and flirtation when they could spare a few sous.
Continue to 64 Boulevard Saint-Michel, the site of the legendary Taboure tavern where la vie bohème raged until the wee hours. Identify Le Relais Odéon at 36 Rue de l'Odéon, formerly the Café de la Rotonde where bohemians met before moving the party to Taboure.
End at Café de la Rotonde on Boulevard Montparnasse, as artists and intellectuals have done since 1911. Its terrace still emits the bohemian spirit of Murger's era, where struggling painters and writers found camaraderie over cheap wine and grand ideas. Relish the experience of embracing art for art's sake, if only for an evening.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Visiting the Haunts of Victor Hugo's Hunchback
The Hunchback of Notre Dame remains one of the most beloved and enduring classics of French literature. Victor Hugo's 1831 novel introduced the world to the tragic figure of Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral who falls for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. For any fan of the book, visiting the real-life locations that inspired Hugo offers insight into the dark, romantic vision of Paris he created.
Make the first stop of your Hunchback pilgrimage the Cathedral of Notre Dame itself, where Quasimodo hid away high in the bell towers gazing down on 15th century Paris. Climb the 387 steps up the tower for the same spectacular views of the city Hugo described. Gaze over the Seine winding through the Île de Cité, imagining medieval Paris spreading out before you as it did in Quasimodo's time.
Cross the street to Square Jean XXIII, known in Hugo's day as the Parvis Notre Dame. In the book, this square hosted a gala where a captive Esmeralda danced for the crowd. It was also where she met her tragic end. Stand near the fountain and picture the public gatherings and executions that Hugo vividly captured here.
Stroll along Quai de Montebello facing Notre Dame, envisioning Quasimodo leaping along the parapets high above. According to legend, Hugo witnessed a real hunchback scale the façade, inspiring Quasimodo's famous stunts. Hugo's descriptions of medieval houses crowding the riverbank still ring true today.
Make your way to 6 Rue du Fouarre, where the novel's printing shop stored the first printed copy of Quasimodo's sentence. Run your fingers over the old wooden door, imagining the printer sliding the notice through the slot. This winding cobblestone lane has hardly changed since Hugo's day.
Finish your tour at Place de Grève, today known as Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. The city's headquarters has replaced the medieval town hall depicted in the novel. But this broad esplanade along the Seine still hosts rallies and events as it did in Hugo's time. Stand in the spot where the author movingly staged Esmeralda's hanging, a scene that highlighted society's cruelty and intolerance. Let Hugo's stark vision of 15th century Paris come alive.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Exploring the Cafés of Sartre's Existentialism
The smoky cafés of Paris' Left Bank were Jean-Paul Sartre's natural habitat. The philosopher, novelist and leading figure of existentialism spent countless hours tucked into a corner table, cigarette in one hand and pen in the other, scribbling ideas that would become iconic works like Being and Nothingness. Retracing Sartre's café footprint offers a window into the birthplace of existential thinking in postwar Paris.
For Sartre and his lifelong partner Simone de Beauvoir, Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés was their office away from home. The rich dark wood interior crammed with marble tables exudes vintage Parisian charm. According to café lore, Sartre always sat at table number 112 furthest from the bar, finding inspiration watching the bohemian clientele and passersby on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Waiters knew to keep his coffee cup full and offer a glass of Vouvray wine at 11am sharp. Grab Sartre's table if you can and spend the morning writing, observing the scene around you as he surely did.
Just across the boulevard is Les Deux Magots, the other pillar of Sartre's café society. Photos lining the walls depict him deep in conversation with fellow intellectuals and artists who gathered here, like Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso. Order the house special dolce far niente dessert – bittersweet chocolate mousse fit for existential reflection. Upstairs you can visit Sartre's former office, where he not only wrote but also met students for philosophical discussions.
Further along Rue Bonaparte near Odéon metro lies Café de Cluny, today known as Le Petit Cluny. Toulouse-Lautrec was once a regular, but in the 1930s it was taken over by Sartre's circle of friends as their latest hangout spot. Sartre set a scene from his 1938 novel Nausea at the café. Sit near the window facing medieval Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés, taking in views of the church towers that likely inspired Sartre's moody prose.
Discover Paris Through the Pages of its Famous Authors - Walking the Promenades with Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
Marcel Proust's sprawling novel In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu) captures the refinement and nostalgia of belle époque Paris. For literary travelers, walking in the footsteps of the novel's narrator offers a window into the fashionable Parisian society Proust inhabited and immortalized.
The protagonist often strolls through the city observing its inhabitants, their manners, clothing and conversations. Follow his route along the promenades and gardens where elite Parisians paraded in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Begin in the manicured Jardin des Tuileries, where Proust spent time as a child. Stroll the gravel paths just as Paris' beautiful people did, dressed in their finery. From the metal chairs near the fountain, watch well-heeled ladies and gents pass by as you imagine Proust did. He remarked that the gardens were "filled with people whose names, like the names of roses, made one think of their different perfumes and colors."
Continue to the tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the most prestigious promenade for seeing and being seen in Proust's day. The belle époque grandeur remains evident in the avenue's architecture. Sit for tea on the terrace of Ladurée like a true Parisian aristocrat. Proust attended many fashionable soirées in the lavish apartment buildings here.
The esplanade of Les Invalides is another elegant backdrop for your own genteel promenade. In The Guermantes Way, Proust describes dukes and duchesses disembarking from carriages for a stroll along the esplanade. With its symmetrical lanes and mansions, this district remains a monument to Paris society's pomp.
Stroll through sections of the Luxembourg Gardens northeast of the Fontaine de Médicis. Proust remarked on its orderly beauty, calling it "the congealed winter Garden of Decorative Art." Find a chair near the central fountain to observe well-dressed Parisians much like the refined characters that populate Proust's pages.
End at 102 Boulevard Haussmann, Proust's childhood home. Its lavish furnishings and salons hosted only the cultural elite. Stand outside taking in the affluent atmosphere. You can almost imagine Proust upstairs, observing the PARIS beau monde through the window and gathering material for his masterpiece on memory and time.