A Magical Walk
Through Hemingways Paris
Photography: Halina Kubalski
ARIS, France -- Magically enchanting and much-loved Paris, the Urban
Empress of Europe, remains eternally young and amorous. Occasionally
vain, always passionate, and with a long and turbulent history, the
legendary city has a special flair for life that has captivated many
of the worlds most inspired artistic talent.
French plaque honoring Hemingway -- Left Bank of
After the Great War and during the 1920s and 30s,
Paris was the place to be for artists and the forward-thinking avant-garde
looking to etch their mark, while novelists and writers quickly recognized
that it was far easier to be acknowledged by the small innovative Parisian
publishing companies than to catch an editors eye in the States.
During this most exhilarating period in 20th Century
American Literature, Paris was the destination for an amazing assortment
of international expatriates, including some 30,000 Americans many clutching
one-way tickets to the City of Lights.
Some arrived in Paris in search of panache and identity,
while others, overwhelmed by the complex and tenacious city, became
lost in heart-wrenching dreams of discovery and triumphant achievements.
The French franc was a colossal friend, the exchange
rate a whopping 25 to 35 francs to the dollar, while Paris free-flowing
alcohol was a further attraction as long as hard-line prohibition had
the upper hand in the United States. Parisian nightlife, animated cabarets,
freethinking ladies, and French wine were all treasures to behold.
Hemingway's Paris. He lived nearby.
On the vibrant Left Bank of Paris, in the Latin Quarter
and Montparnasse, Ernest Hemingway and wife Hadley, bespectacled James
Joyce struggling to publish Ulysses, and F. Scott Fitzgerald
with his flamboyant wife Zelda, both giddy from the publication of The
Great Gatsby, had settled in, along with photographer Man Ray, always
ready to capture the moment. Pablo Picasso and writers Ezra Pound, Djuana
Barnes, Nancy Cunard, Sherwood Anderson, and eccentric John Dos Passos,
along with a memorable list of other authors and artists, were also
part of the heady Paris scene, and friends of Hemingway.
Bigger than life and significant to the literary and
artistic scene, Gertrude Stein, writer, serious art collector, and a
remarkable influence on writers and artists, cleverly tagged the exiles
The Lost Generation, backed by her jealous lover, Alice B. Toklas,
who fiercely disliked Hemingway. The exiles included a cast of street
characters with stories to tell, who were lounging at sidewalk cafes
often deep into their cups, discussing literature, sharing gossip and
jealousies, wondering where life and careers were headed and when the
next dollar would materialize.
Hemingway's Paris -- Left Bank
Mercifully, much of the great city has remained suspended
in a timeless bubble, making it easy to relive the Lost Generation,
to tread on the ancient stones that Hemingway and friends negotiated,
sit at the same sidewalk cafes and restaurants, see the gardens, hotels,
churches, cathedrals, and lodgings that once upon a time were their
The reflective adventure comes together with Oriel and
Peter Caines prestigious Paris Walking Tours, founded in 1994
and recommended by the Paris Tourist Office. The Caines, who are
themselves esteemed authors and scholars, engage knowledgeable English-speaking
guides whose contributions to the tour include appropriate humor and
fascinating encyclopedic insights.
Paris walks -- Hemingway's Paris
Following the guides through any of the two-hour walks,
Hemingways Paris, Writers of the Left Bank, The Village of
Montmartre or Saint Germain-des-Pres, gives the sense of
having moved through time, setting the stage for an irresistible mélange
of literary and artistic history.
A magnificent destination of monuments and striking
architecture, each turn of a Parisian corner invites a celebration of
the senses that embellishes the timeless link to Hemingway, and a city
glowing with imperishable splendor and earthiness that can grab your
heart and hang on for a lifetime.
Hemingway's favorite restaurant where he worked
"The Sun Also Rises" and short stories
Via a touch of imagination supported by the images of
Woody Allens excellent film, Midnight in Paris, and Hemingways
memoir recalling his life in Paris, A Moveable Feast, one can
envision him strolling along the narrow, winding cobblestone streets,
Fitzgerald at his side, Zelda, edging between them wildly dancing the
tango and hoping for an open bar.
With Lost Generation thoughts flowing, you might
hear a bit of Hot Jazz and pass by Kiki, the classy lady of the night,
a favorite artists model, who never met a man she didnt
like. You might pick out Josephine Bakers bluesy voice, floating
through the night air from the intensely popular Folies Bergere where
Baker, a favorite of Hemingway, often performed in her adopted homeland
with Chiquita, her pet Cheetah.
Gertrude Steins home and salon at 27 rue de Fleurus,
now a private resident, once decorated with priceless Gauguin, Renoir,
Matisse, Picasso, and Cezanne paintings and long noted as the most distinguished
salon in all Paris, was an important gathering place for a coterie of
famous artists, writers, and trend-setters including Hemingway and European
Down the street, Malcolm Cowley, famed writer, poet,
and critic, lived and wrote at 1 rue de Fleurus. Famous for having reportedly
once floored Hemingway in a friendly boxing match, Cowley became the
spokesman of the 1920s American expatriates.
A celebrated bookstore for Hemingway and other famous
Sylvia Beachs Shakespeare and Company on rue lOdeon,
the only English-language bookstore on the Left Bank, was another celebrated
gathering place for writers. Writers could buy or borrow books there,
Hemingway often noted for doing the latter.
The bookstore closed in 1941 during the German occupation
of Paris and never reopened, but in 1951 another Shakespeare and Company
opened in tribute to Sylvia Beach. Steps from the Seine and the Notre
Dame Cathedral, the bookstore, featured in Midnight in Paris,
buzzes with camera-toting visitors with a literary liking.
Hemingway's Residence, Left Bank of Paris
After experiencing the famed bookstore, its astounding
to walk past the Hemingways old neighborhood on rue Mouffetard
where they rented their first apartment on the third floor at 74 rue
du Cardinal Lemoine. A small womens clothing store on the ground
floor is aptly named Under Hemingways.
Hemingway's Paris: La Rotonde, Boulevard du Montparnasse
Along Boulevard du Montparnasse are a cluster of legendary
cafes; La Rotonde, La Coupole, Le Dome, and Le Select, home to Mickey
a 19-year old cat, all within walking distance, all fashionable today,
just as they were when they were the center of life in the 1920s with
their people-watching sidewalk tables, and churlish waiters.
Reams of material have been written about the significant
cafes and their eminent patrons, but Hemingways preferred café,
also on Montparnasse, was La Closerie des Lilas. He often sat in the
corner with a cafe crème, writing some of his finest short stories
and working on his brilliant novel, The Sun Also Rises.
Hemingway's bar: La Closerie de Lilas
| Incredibly, the
bar retains its period ambience confirmed by a framed black and
white photo, circa 1920s. A small copper plaque inscribed with his
name is embedded in the bar, along with a small photo of him above
the bar. One can imagine Hemingway sitting here chatting with Fitzgerald
and Joyce, while in the background Cole Porter is playing the piano
to an audience of wistful lovers on the prowl.
Years later, one of Hemingways numerous
haunts was the famed Ritz Hotel on rue Cambon, where his name
is now honored with the intimate Hemingway Bar. Hemingway spent
his time in the hotel imbibing aperitifs with the celebrities
of the day and observing the carefully coifed, costumed, and accessorized
French women, who were undeniably elegant.
Ritz Hotel, Paris
Ritz Hotel, Paris -- Hemingway's Bar
Nearby, the mighty Seine, dotted with barges and sight-seeing
boats, flows along tree-lined walks where embracing couples shimmer
and shake, brusque vendors sell books, prints, and paintings, and old-timers
cast for fish.
Hemingway and wife Hadley lived above this boutique
Parisians remark that the more Paris changes, the more
it stays the same. For Hemingway, the City of Lights was an ageless
enclave of beauty, style, and history, and where, through much effort,
his distinctive writing style developed.
When You Go
Contact Paris Walks at, www.paris-walks.com;
the five-star Paris Sightseeing Pass offering visitors access
to over 60 top attractions including the sightseeing bus, metro, a Seine
cruise, and other discounts. www.parispass.com
and Avignon; Montpellier,