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Rebecca Dolan


Paris: Then And Now In Hemingway's City Of Light

Posted: 04/05/2012 8:00 am

For Hemingway nerds and Francophiles alike, Paris is the place and A Moveable Feast the city guide.

Structured like a journal, A Moveable Feast recounts Hemingway's early years in the city as a journalist and fledgling novelist, moving among the cafes and literary circles of 1920s Paris' artsy Left Bank. Relics of days gone by -- Beaux Arts apartment buildings and Art Nouveau metro stations, classic cafes with mustachioed waiters and barges idling along the Seine -- still exist, though many highlights have become crowded with tourists.

This can be particularly true in the case of Hemingway's haunts. But that shouldn't deter those with a taste for literary or Jazz Age Paris. To keep the droves of tourists at arm's length, I've woven less trafficked sights of new Paris in with the old landmarks. Check out the map and slideshow below to take your own tour of the Paris of A Moveable Feast, then and now.

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  • 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine

    One of Paris' oldest and most famous streets is the Rue Mouffetard -- a lively restaurant and market street in the city's 5th arrondissements. At the top of the street is the Place de la Contrescarpe, around the corner from which Hemingway lived at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine. To get there, hop the metro and take the 10 to Cardinal Lemoine and walk south along the street, or the 7 to Place Monge and walk west along Rue Lacepede. Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Rue Lacepede and Rue Mouffetard meet at Place de la Contrescarpe.

  • 39 Rue Descartes

    While residing at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Hemingway also rented out a nearby hotel room as a writing studio. Although the Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue Mouffetard are lined with cafes, these are heavily touristed and often highly priced. To avoid the crowds and save some dough, grab a monstrous crepe or galette -- the original French fast food -- from Au P'tit Grec (62 Rue Mouffetard). Just off Contrescarpe, Au Vieux Cèdre (2 Rue Blainville) is a tiny Lebanese deli with a killer shish kebab wrap. Be nice to the guys behind the counter, and they may just offer a glass of mint tea on the house. For a full service affair, the <a href="" target="_hplink">Mosque de Paris</a> (39 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire) runs a <a href="" target="_hplink">teahouse and restaurant</a> serving North African fare like couscous and tagines. Follow Rue Lacépède from Contrescarpe, and hang a right on Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire.

  • 113 Rue Notre-Dame Des Champs

    Hemingway, along with his first wife Hadley and their son, later moved into an apartment off the Boulevard du Montparnasse. He wrote of a bakery across the street through which he would pass to access the grand boulevard. Though there's no longer a building numbered 113, across from where it should be still exists a bakery with a welcoming back door.

  • Tour Montparnasse

    Post-Hemingway, Montparnasse has become associated with a looming 59-story tower. It's considered quite the eyesore, so much so that after its completion the construction of skyscrapers was banned in the city center. The prized view of the city might once have been from atop the Eiffel Tower, but some locals now say that it's actually from the <a href="" target="_hplink">Tour Montparnasse</a> -- because if you are standing on it you can't see it. Bonus: The view from up here includes the Eiffel Tower.

  • Closerie des Lilas

    Just down the street from Hemingway's apartment on Rue Notre-Dame des Champs is the <a href="" target="_hplink">Closerie des Lilas</a> (171 Bd du Montparnasse), which Hemingway called one of the best cafes in Paris. Getting there is easy as it's just across the street from the Port Royal RER train stop.

  • Le Dome

    Further west down the Boulevard du Montparnasse is <a href="" target="_hplink">Le Dôme</a> (108 Bd Montparnasse), which was once a hub for Paris' early 20th century literati and artists. It's now a pricey seafood restaurant, but is supposed to sere a mean oyster -- a typical snack for Hem. To get there, take the Metro line 4 to Vavin.

  • Café de Flore

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Café de Flore</a> (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain), <a href="" target="_hplink">Brasserie Lipp</a> (151 Boulevard Saint-Germain) and <a href="" target="_hplink">Les Deux Magots</a> (6 Place St. Germain des Prés) are a few of Hemingways favorite haunts. They are clustered at the St. Germain des Prés metro stop off the 4 or are a short walk west from Mabillon on the 10.

  • Brasserie Lipp

    At Brasserie Lipp Hemingway dined simply on pommes a l'huile and cervelas (potatoes and sausage.) Cervelas remoulade still appears on the menu as a house specialty, but the potatoes come with a fish dish.

  • Les Deux Magots

    Not far from these classic restaurants is the much heralded modern-day restaurant <a href="" target="_hplink">L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon</a> (5 Rue de Montalembert). Robuchon is the most Michelin-starred chef in the world, and his Atelier is a gastronomic icon. This restaurant is definitely a splurge though, prepare to drop a couple hundred euros -- if you can get a reservation. Simply walk west on the Boulevard du Saint-Germain then hang a right on Rue du Bac. Or, take the 12 line to the Rue du Bac stop, head north then veer right onto Rue de Montalembert.

  • Restaurant Chartier

    Since Hemingway was a customer, the prices at all of those restaurants have shot up. To sample classic French cafe favorites at nearly Hemingway-era prices, hop over to the 9th arrondisement and get in line for a table at <a href="" target="_hplink">Restaurant Chartier</a> (7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre). Sorry, no reservations. The restaurant opened in 1896, and inside those doors it still feels like the turn of the century. Tables are shared, waiters write orders on the paper tablecloths, and the appetizers start at €1. Splurge a little on the celery root remoulade, which, at €2.50 is likely the cheapest version of this delicious French classic you'll find. Take metro lines 8 or 9 to Grands Boulevards and the restaurant is less than one block north on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.

  • Restaurant Polidor

    If you must sample a Hemingway-endorsed joint, there's the <a href="" target="_hplink">Polidor</a> (41 Rue Monsieur le Prince), in the Latin Quarter, which also has a history as a writers' hangout. It offers a simple, traditional French menu featuring killer escargot. The closest metro stops are Cluny-La Sorbonne and Odeon on the 10. The Polidor is not far from the Boulevard Saint-Michel, one of the Latin Quarter's main arteries. This area is generally very touristy, and its restaurants are forgettable. Skip it.

  • Jardin du Luxembourg

    The Luxembourg Garden was where Hemingway first met Gertrude Stein, a fellow writer and friend in Paris. The garden is anchored by the Luxembourg Palace, home to the French Senate.

  • Jardin du Luxembourg

    When the weather is warm the garden is still not to be missed as it's still a popular place for Parisians to bask in the sun. Reward all that relaxation witch an iconic French pastry -- the <a href="" target="_hplink">macaron</a>, not to be confused with a <a href="" target="_hplink">macaroon</a>. Rue Bonaparte, which extends from the northwest corner of the garden, is home to two outposts of the most famous macaron purveyors. <a href="" target="_hplink"><a href="Ladurée" target="_hplink">Ladree</a></a> (21 Rue Bonaparte) has been around since 1862 and is known as the inventor of the macaron. But "new" kid on the block, <a href="" target="_hplink">Pierre Hermé</a> (72 Rue Bonaparte) has been giving Ladurée a run for its money since 2002. Go for the gusto and try a few from each. It's hard to pick a favorite.

  • Shakespeare and Company

    Sylvia Beach's <a href="" target="_hplink">original Shakespeare and Company bookstore</a> was a gathering place for Hemingway and "Lost Generation" cohorts like Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford -- all characters in <em>A Moveable Feast</em>. It closed in 1941, but would have its name resurrected in 1951 by George Whitman, who opened his bookstore at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie. <a href="" target="_hplink">Whitman's bookstore</a> became popular with the Beat Generation and is still a well-known expat spot. Take the RER train line B or C to the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame and walk east along Quai de Montebello until you see the bookstore on your right. Alternatively take the metro line 10 to Cluny-La Sorbonne or the 4 to Saint-Michel.

  • La Seine

    Hemingway spoke romantically about leisurely strolls along Paris' iconic river, which breaks the city into the Left and Right banks. Walking (or enjoying a bottle of wine) along its banks will never get old, but these days youngsters and those in the know kick back along the Canal Saint-Martin in the city's 10th arrondissement. Pack up a few bottles of wine, a couple of baguettes and some cheese and idle with Parisian hipsters.

  • La Seine

    The Pont de l'Archevêché connects the city's Left Bank with Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame de Paris is located. It's fencing is lined with padlocks (like those in <a href="" target="_hplink">Venice</a> and <a href="" target="_hplink">Cologne</a>) clamped on by the city's amoreux. Take the line 10 to Maubert - Mutualité‎, head east along Boulevard Saint-German and take a left on Rue des Bernardins.

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    Patrick and Sean Hemingway discuss examining the original manuscripts to create the restored edition of A Moveable Feast.