A Walk With Hemingway: Touring Paris’s Latin Quarter Following His “A Moveable Feast” Footsteps
“If you’re lucky enough to have lived in Paris, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Words from my man Ernest Hemingway which are all too true. As huge fans of his ability to encapsulate a time, a place and a mood within a streamlined amount of verbs and adjectives, Hemingway’s zeal for Paris was an added bonus for both me and Luke. About halfway through our time here, I came upon this article and was instantaneously sold into the idea of walking in the footsteps of one of my literary heroes. We adapted our journey slightly and gathered a bit more information by rereading “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway’s memoir of sorts about his expatriate writer years while living in Paris.
Pssssssst, even if you’re not a huge Hemingway nerd like I am, that’s okay! This is just a great way to see the “untourist-y” and unassuming side of the Latin Quarter while stopping at some of it’s main sights. Literary nerds rejoice! It’s about to get real “lost generation” up in here! (And for those of who don’t know what I mean by this, Hemingway coined this term to name the generation after WWI. Now we correspond it with the modernist writers of the time, including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T.S. Elliot to name a few.)
The trip took us from about 11am to 3pm, including approximately two hours time for an espresso, lunch and time to sketch, watercolor and write… and time for me to snap pictures (of course). We walked an a reasonable stroll and I recommend that if you plan on doing this walk, you do the same! It’s all about taking in the details and keeping your imagination running wild. This walk isn’t about seeing flashy buildings and ancient art, it’s about allowing your mind to wander to Paris in the 1920’s. If you’re feeling extra inspired to do this walk, I’d also recommend reading “A Moveable Feast” beforehand. These destinations are taken straight from there! Here’s a quick description of the destinations we discovered along our way:
La Place Contrascarpe
To begin, we started our journey at Metro Line 7’s Censier Daubenton stop. Just a few steps uphill and you’ll be entering Rue Moufftard, a street bustling in the mid morning shuffle of both Parisians and tourist alike hunting for their first croissant and espresso of the day. At the peak of this street you’ll find La Contrascarpe, a bubbling fountain encircled by quiet cafes. Described as the “cesspool of Rue Moufftard,” it’s not hard to imagine young writers and artist quietly staring into their cups while scribbling their thoughts. Make sure to get an espresso and write here.
Hemingway & Hadley’s Apartment
Just a short turn away, on the third floor of number 74 Rue Cardinale Lemoine, Hemingway and his first wife Hadley lived. Pretty unassuming right? The only clue we even had to base this on (besides Hemingway’s book) was a little plaque on the side of the house. Just around the corner you can find a little tavern, which Hemingway stayed in to write when he felt overwhelmed or unfocused at home.
Pantheon & Saint Etienne Du Mont (“The Midnight In Paris” Church)
Taking a stroll up Rue Clovis and beside the Pantheon, where the French writers of the past haunted Hemingway’s work. Take a moment to sit on the sidesteps of Saint Etienne Du Mont, not far from the Pantheon. It happens to be where “Midnight In Paris” shot one of its most famous scenes! The first time we saw this spot, we immediately thought of the movie but had no idea that it was the actual place. Later we found out that our ponderings were correct, so we came back (at night, of course) to take in a pint and sit in the Parisian night light.
Shakespeare & Company & Second-Hand Books
Continuing on and taking a sharp right onto Boulevard Saint Michel, you’ll pass many shops, bookstores and cute cafes. Off a bit and squeezed and leaning in all angles, stands one of my most favorite stores in all of Paris, Shakespeare & Company. The original bookstore was run by Sylvia Beach and is mentioned quite a lot in “A Moveable Feast,” but it’s legacy continues to give a unique and safe space for English speaking customers to read and relax. There are even pianos, typewriters and beds for those feeling adventurous to stay there a while. It’s seriously such a cool place. I could go on and on! Afterwards, find yourself some vintage Parisian prints and second hand books stored in the aged green metal boxes cemented to the stone walls of the Seine. I scored some vintage postcards that I absolutely love! Unrelated extra credit: take a pit stop at the Pont Des Arts, where you can love lock the bridge with your honey.
Les Deux Magots
A well visited cafe of artists, writers and philosophers of the 1920’s, including our man Hemingway himself (as well as Picasso and Sartre, to name a few others). This little cafe serves an amazing croquette madam. Get it. Seriously, so good. Also, make sure to truly take in the ambiance of the place. It’s atmosphere makes it almost impossible to not imaging writers scribbling their hands raw here.
Jardin Du Luxembourg
A favorite destination between his apartment and Gertrude Stein’s apartment was Jardin du Luxembourg, a beautifully maintained, lively garden. Here Luke and I spent a good hour writing and watercoloring in the shade of a huge oak tree, surrounded by marble statues and manicured gardens. As Hemingway said, “If I walked down by different streets to the Jardin du Luxembourg in the afternoon, I could walk through the gardens and then go to the Musee du Lexumbourg, where the great paintings were that have now mostly been transferred to the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume… But if the light was gone in the Luxembourg I would walk up through the gardens and stop in at the studio apartment where Gertrude Stein lived.” Which takes us to our final stop…
Gertrude Stein’s Apartment
Blink your eyes and you’ll miss it! “It was easy to get into the habit of stopping in at 27 Rue De Fleurus for warmth and the great pictures and the conversation,” he says. A place where Hemingway would seek guidance and critique on his writing, the unassuming building showcases nothing but a little plaque commemorating Gertrude Stein’s work. Here’s where your imagination comes in handy! Imagining Hemingway knocking on the door or inviting himself in helps.
After our little trip, Luke and I headed back on our merry way home. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can easily wander into the main hub of the Latin Quarter or even Notre Dame. Either way, make sure to keep your mind wandering.