Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Literary Tour Of Paris....

Over Easter this year, I was lucky enough to go on a literary tour through the streets of Paris with Paris tour guide company Localers

We turned back a few pages in history and revisited some of the literary VIPs who left their mark on Paris: The Romantics of the 19th century, The Lost Generation between the wars, and The Beat Generation of the 1950s and 60s. 
Here are some of the highlights...

We started from the Passage Richelieu at the Louvre, where Hemingway & Fitzgerald went to check the penis sizes of statues. True story. It's in "The Moveable Feast" ...  "Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile".. Seriously.


Image credit: http://medias.photodeck.com/50ab13b2-0b69-11e1-abad-ebb4c6f90b2c/TS011431_xlarge.jpg

Climbing over the Pont des Arts, we stopped for a while at the Institut de France. Only the French can be SO passionate about their language and culture ... 5 académies including the Académie française founded in 1635 - the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language... 
Les immortels include Victor Hugo, Rousseau, Balzac, Descartes, Marcel Proust and Jules Verne. France did produce a huge number of literary greats, didn't they?!!


 Image credit: http://michellegable.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/PontDesArts.jpg

We then walked along the historic Rue de Seine, past its galleries and antiques into Rue des Beaux Arts and stopped at L'Hotel. Nestled in the heart of the Left Bank, amidst the cultural riches, bohemian soul and high fashion of St Germain-des-Prés, this was Oscar Wilde's last home and later the heart of Parisian society in the swinging sixties. It is now a 5 star hotel and restaurant. Once the world of the La bohème, this area is now home to Bobo's - the bourgeois bohemian...


Image credit: http://cdn1.buuteeq.com/upload/18234/le-bar-2.jpg.1340x450_0_150_6978.jpg

At the end of this road is the Ecole des Beaux Arts, one of the most influential art schools in Paris. On the entrance wall is a long standing graffiti of a cat. Apparently they could not quite decide to remove it since it was created by a famous street artist!! Our lovely guide Marie, treated us to some Ladurée melt-in-your-mouth macarons on Rue Bonaparte. 


Image credit: http://newsweek-paris-france.tumblr.com/image/22183966881

A Hemingway and 1920s Paris fan would never walk past Hotel d’Angleterre... This is where Hemingway and his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, stayed when they first arrived in the city. 


Image credit: http://images.trvl-media.com/hotels/4000000/3160000/3160000/3159995/3159995_36_b.jpg

The Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain is not too far from here... Opened in 1885, its classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II. 


Image credit: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3074/2930969060_21ae9166df.jpg

Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it hosted many of the French intellectuals during the post-war years... 


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Nearby also is Café Procope, opened in 1686 and the oldest restaurant of Paris in continuous operation. Regulars here included Voltaire, Napoleon, Balzac, Hugo and Benjamin Franklin. 


Image credit: http://www.procope.com/wp-content/uploads/slideshow-procope5.jpg

We had our best lunch in Paris at Le Comptoir at carrefour de l'Odéon nearby. 


Image credit: https://www.kiwicollection.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/le-comptoir-du-relais.jpg

Between Le Comptoir and Les Editeurs opposite, there is a tree that had books hanging off it as street art! How cool is that?!! 


Image credit: http://kitchenscoop.com/images/uploads/Paris-evening-lrg.jpg

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The rue de l'Odéon is where Sylvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare & Co and published James Joyce's Ulysses. 


Image credit: http://www.johnnydepp-zone.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=41971

We then strolled through the university town - past the Sorbonne & Collège de France


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In the middle of all these colleges and schools, there is also the magnificent Panthéon - originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, now a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. Hugo, Dumas, Voltaire, Rousseau, Braille and the Curies all rest here. Restoration work is ongoing to clean it up and apparently they use apricot scrub to clean the stones!!


Image credit: http://expressoparis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Le-Panthéon1.jpg

For Harry Potter fans, the Musée de Cluny has the Tapestry of the Lady and the Unicorn series - shown hanging on the walls of the Gryffindor Common Room in the films. 


Image credit: http://www.historyofpainters.com/unicorn.JPG

This medieval museum also includes the ruins of Gallo-Roman thermal baths, believed to have been built in the 3rd century. The layers of history in Paris are simply fascinating!


Image credit: http://www.history.com/images/media/slideshow/paris-landmarks/roman-baths.jpg

After talking so much about 1920s Paris, we simply couldn't end it without some jazz! 
Le Caveau des Oubliettes and the La Guillotine pub, tucked away in Rue Galande in the Latin Quarter, are the place to go for jazz and blues. 


Image credit: http://esphoto500x500.mnstatic.com/le-caveau-des-oubliettes-pub-y-club-de-jazz_115151.jpg

If you are in the mood for some classical music instead, head on to the Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre - the oldest church in Paris - which regularly hosts classical concerts. 


Image credit: http://www.oeuvre-orient.fr/wp-content/uploads/eglisedesaintjulienlepauvre.jpg

In the Square René-Viviani–Montebello beside the church is also Paris' oldest tree, planted in the early 1600s!!!


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Finally - there it is! Shakespeare & Company... Nestled in a small stone courtyard just across the Seine from the Notre Dame Cathedral. It could hardly be in a better location. 
Out front, bookstands surround an ornate drinking fountain. Inside, an extensive stock of second-hand books.
 If there's a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here...   


 Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Shakespeare_and_Company_(July_2007).jpg/400px-Shakespeare_and_Company_(July_2007).jpg