Top 6 literary haunts in Paris
Paris has a long history of literary greatness, inspiring poets and attracting authors from near and far. Today we’ve tracked down the highlights of this book-lovers’ paradise to help you plan your tour.
Paris is the birthplace of countless classics and the ultimate destination for budding writers. Even if you’re following the footsteps of your favorite author, it’s easy to miss the gems among the most popular literary sights. Victor Hugo’s house and Oscar Wilde’s lipstick-smeared grave are tried and true must-sees, but dedicated fiction fanatics will want to check out these less-known haunts.
1. Shakespeare & Company
Stroll down the streets of the Sixth Arrondissement to find this English-language bookshop, founded by Sylvia Beach in 1919. Famously depicted in Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, Sylvia was a friend and patron to authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. In fact, it was Sylvia who saw the potential in Joyce’s Ulysses, publishing it when others were put off by its “obscene” content.
2. 20 Rue Jacob
Pay homage to Natalie Clifford Barney’s literary salon, where William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Mary McCarthy found support and community. Stand where they stood and soak up the literary history. Then make your way to one of the city’s historic cafes and put pen to paper to continue their tradition.
3. Café Procope
This café – the oldest in the city – dates back to 1686, and it’s hosted literary greats from Rousseau to La Fontaine. Stopping here for a coffee is a must – make sure to head upstairs, where you’ll find Voltaire’s marble desk and a letter from the imprisoned Marie Antoinette. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write a letter of your own at the comfortable desk in your room at Park Inn by Radisson Charles de Gaulle Airport Hotel.
4. Hôtel La Louisiane
Walk off your lunch along Rue de Seine – you won’t need to take more than a few steps between literary landmarks. Hôtel La Louisiane was home to Simone de Beauvoir and J.P. Sartre, and Albert Cossery (known locally as “the last dandy”) lodged there for 62 years. A few houses down, you’ll find a plaque commemorating Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz’s 1834 residence. A few steps in the opposite direction will take you to the home of Baudelaire – you’ll know it by the sign for ”Henri Diéval Maître Imprimeur” over the door.
5. La Bellevilloise
Check in at this huge venue built in 1877 to make culture and politics accessible to the city’s poorer residents. Today it hosts lectures, art exhibitions, film screenings and concerts. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the regular performances by members of Double Change, a bilingual French and American poetry collective.
6. Musée de la vie Romantique
For a more niche experience, head to Musée de la vie Romantique and pay homage to French author and feminist icon George Sand. This museum houses a treasure trove of memories including Sand’s furniture, jewelry and paintings, as well as the famous work of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres.