"Blogging isn't journalism, it's graffiti with punctuation."

Paris

Paris: Art on the Streets, Art Deco on the Walls

This is the kind of street art that makes my spirit soar. This is stencilling taken to another level!

These wheatpastes are tagged “levalet.” Why does that name sound familiar to me? Lil’ help?

These paintings were hung inside Le Musée des années 30 (The 1930s museum, which was free the day I went because all national museums are free on the first Sunday of the month). I stared and stared at these paintings. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.


I took this photo on my last night in Paris. I wasn’t staying far from L’Arc de Triomphe, so I hopped on a Vélib, cycled over, sat on a concrete barrier, and watched the sunset behind the alabaster stones and racing roundabout. It was a hot evening, and I am better for it.

Goodbye Paris.

Advertisements

#C215’s Hydro-Electricity in Paris

Like most of my street art finds, I found this C215 piece on a hydro-electric box by accident whilst cruising on a Vélib. I love those little discoveries Paris affords.


Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!


Parisian History before your eyes


So I’m walking along Rue de Marcadet in Montmartre, a street and an area I know well because in 2012 I stayed on Rue Ordener, which is just around the corner… And I have passed this particular building at the Rude du Mont-Cenis intersection many times, and it always bothered me because I knew I had seen it before.


When you look at it, it really doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the apartment blocks around it. Rue de Marcadet has a lot of 19th century architecture still sitting next to 1960s-era function-over-form apartment buildings and tenements. So it’s a street that blends a lot of different styles, but still, this tower-like home just doesn’t fit in with anything around it.


So I’m staring at this building and then it hits me. I know exactly where I had seen it.


Here.


Isn’t it amazing how the building hasn’t changed at all over the passing of the centuries, except for maybe the paint job?! Usually in these types of buildings, some windows would have been bricked off, some entryways sealed to make way for different ones, and the wings and side sections of the building might have been destroyed or torn down due to dilapidation or misuse. Not here. Everything still stands. Even the skylights in the back from the 19th century are still there!

This is why I love Paris.

Check out this post from last year where I photograph some of the historical relics still standing in Paris.


#JR’s World-tour of the #InsideOutProject hits the Panthéon in Paris

As many of my readers know, I have been fortunate enough to photograph JR‘s work and his Inside Out Project in cities all over the world (so far, I’ve snapped him in NYC, Toronto, Berlin, London, Paris, and counting! Last year, I was even lucky enough to meet him! When I found out he had a temporary exhibition inside the Panthéon, the most popular secular temple in Paris, where great minds and activists have longed to be buried to throw off the shackles of religion, even in death, I knew it was worth the price of admission.

I’m just going to let the photographs speak for themselves.

 

HAND HEARTS!

HAHA, look at her face.

You should check out my JR Category for more of his pieces that I’ve photographed all over the world.

And of course, check out my Inside Out category. So many great portraits, changing the world.

While in the Panthéon, you have to check out the crypt in the creepy, dank cellar. It’s where the you’ll find the tombs of many of history’s great thinkers. This here is the final resting places of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, respectively). Remember last year in Paris when I found the spot where Victor Hugo witnessed the June Uprising, which in turn inspired Les Miserables?

I also found Zola’s home last year.

Yup, you are looking at the graves of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. DON’T TOUCH THEM, YOU’LL GET RADIATION POISONING! Hahaha, kidding! (Not kidding).

Bless you, Voltaire.  Also, have you seen Voltaire? Dude is a silver fox.


The Biggest Fricken #SpaceInvader Post Ever

I just spent a month in Paris, where Invader is from. And thanks to the addictive nature of the Flash Invaders app, which turns the streets into an actual 1980s video game, I ended up finding 183 Space Invaders. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-THREE, YOU GUYS.

Now, in order to prevent the onset of insanity (I was never sane), I won’t blog EVERY one here, just the best of the best. Which, granted, is a lot.

Enjoy!


The Mona Lisa, aka La Jaconde, near the Louvre.


Yup, that’s Pablo Picasso.


Invader, Cost, and ENX went tagging around Paris recently. Their posters and wheatpastes are all over, it’s really quite impressive, they hit up all arrondissements, it seems. If you’re paying attention, you’ll find posters that say “Cost fucked Madonna,” “Cost fucked Invader,” and several variations of this. High five to the NYC crew.


High up at Point Ephémère, but I spotted it anyway.


Remember last year when I found this exact same piece in Brussels?


I saw this piece from the Metro Line 6 as it was bombing along the elevated rail between Nationale and Chevaleret. I was heading toward Nation and wasn’t planning on getting off, but as soon as I saw this whizzing by my window, I got off at Chevaleret, and ran toward this. Epic win.


Clearly site-specific. ‘Vader saw the architecture of this facade, measured it, and made this piece to fit. Love how nothing is an accident, everything is carefully planned.


Unsafe to drink.


This one is behind plexiglass!


The Pink Panther’s To Do List:
-To do
-To do
-To do to do to do to do to dooooooooooo


This is either Robin Hood or Peter Pan.


This was one of my favourites. Mostly because A) PacMan and B) it’s considered two different pieces on Flash Invaders, therefore, more POINTS!


Here’s something similar! One park post…


…two park posts…


… three park posts!! All worth separate points on Flash Invaders! WOOP WOOP!


Fucking tarp.


This one is not only worth so many points on FlashInvaders, it’s STAR WARS! Remember when I found that Space Invader Star Wars piece in London last year? I’m beginning to think he’s not a Star Trek fan.


Hahahaha, get it? See how he’s referencing the name the courtyard? Ah, if ya don’t speak French, you’re missing out….


Is this what pacman looks like when he dies?


LEAVE US ALONE!


IT’S Q*BERT! I used to play this game all the time as a little girl. (I got love for you if you were born in the 80s)


This was found on the one day I stupidly forgot my camera at home, so this is an iPad photo. Sorry. (Ugh).


iPad…


FLAPPY BIRDS!


In a lot of these photos, I’m equally as enamoured with the ‘Vaders as I am with the Parisian architecture… look at that balcony… amirite!


This one is pretty funny. that’s a (destroyed) Vader on the left, and someone has mocked him in tiles on the right. Mega-lolz.


I saw this one from 3 intersections away (|Denfert-Rochereau) and like ran across 3 roundabouts just to photograph it.


As I was taking this photograph, two disgusting pervs started catcalling me, so I spit out my nectarine pit from my mouth and threw it at them. That’s become my latest defence: I eat nectarines on the street, and if someone says something obscene, I spit the pit at them. Trust me, I never had to throw my pit in the garbage once in Paris. Men are one-note garbage.


Hahaha, awesome.


The problem with street art is that it’s usually erected in areas that aren’t safe for women. So it basically turns women off from graff-hunting, or even being graff artists, because of the level of harassment. Half the time I didn’t want to go hunting because I knew I’d have to deal with men’s shit. INVADER, CAN YOU PUT YOUR STUFF UP IN SAFE AREAS PLEASE?


I think this one is a favourite. Space Invader makes the piece look like a street sign, so if you’re not paying attention, you wouldn’t even realize it’s there!


for this one, I literally had to run across the Peripherique highway to get it. Cheating death for ‘Vaders!


I actually didn’t think this was a real ‘Vader until I got all these points for it on Flash Invaders.


Aw. Oscar the Grouch!


See it?


This one is interesting and a unique ‘Vader for many reasons. 1) It’s been burned. 2) it’s 3-dimensional 3) it’s one of the few pieces that ‘Vader made in his original style – in that, it’s made out of rubix cubes. He used to make his pieces out of the the cubes, but he changed rather quickly to bathroom tiles and that has been his technique ever since. this old piece is a reminder of his previous efforts.

So, that’s a lot of Space Invaders. But remember, this isn’t ALL of the ‘Vaders I found! I swear! I just blogged the best ones here, so trust me, there are so many others out there that I found, and if you are willing to hunt, you can find them too!

Side note: hunting ‘Vaders is great way to explore Paris. You get to see different quartiers and arrondissements, it gets you walking and/or biking, and most of all, it’s free. And it’s so diverting. Highly recommended as a travel activity whilst in Paris.

Check out my Space Invader category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!


Word on the Street in Paris


This above and below is by Seth aka Globepainter, near Rue Mouffetard coming down from Place Contrescarpe. I love how expressive and bold they are, with the thick lines and rounded curves. And the childlike enthusiasm.

And the disappearing into walls…


Ha! Look at this slug trying to be a repairman! I think my favourite detail is the tool belt. I found this near Abesses metro station.


This is a classic Jef Aerosol piece that I’ve photographed many times before in other cities.


Nina Simone by Miss Me. The first time I found a Miss Me was in Montreal, but I also found her work in Berlin when I was living there this summer. She’s also in Paris! Good for her! Canadians are taking over the planet, just you wait. I found this in the hilly staircases of Montmartre.

TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY. by WRDSMITH

see him?


J’ai demandé à la lune….


I suspect the artist behind this carebear piece is the same artist behind The Kiss (pixelated) that I blogged about last week.


The following, including this one, were all found on Rue Denoyez. The last time I blogged from Rue denoyez was 2 years ago, and this time the experience was much less enjoyable, because of all the disgusting sexual harassment that happens in the Belleville area. I literally had to run in, photograph, and run out. I was being hounded at every corner. Seriously Paris, fuck you. Do something about your sexual harassment problem.

 

Arbeit Macht Lazy, huh?


There was no artist name next to this one, anyone know who’s behind this? It’s great, wasn’t far from the Victor Hugo museum…

Ha ha ha.


It’s an animal menagerie at Porte de Vanves.

Check out my Paris category for all the wonderfully cool finds I’ve photographed over the years, from street art to writer-hangouts to relics of the past, and everything in between.


The Kiss (pixelated)

Everyone knows Tanya Chalkin’s famous photograph, The Kiss. Someone in Paris has taken it upon themselves to create the mosaic-pixel version of this near Etienne-Marcel.


This is not a Space Invader, although it bears some of his hallmarks. For one, the women have been updated with Video Game attire.


I don’t know who’s behind this piece of art, but if you do, please let me know in the comments below!


Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé

Found this on the streets of the Marais, just in time for this.

Say it with me now, class:

Je Beyonces
Tu Beyonces
Il/Elle Beyonce
Nous Beyonceons
Vous Beyoncez
Ils/Elles Beyoncent

WOMAN, MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?

 


“It’s no wonder that maggots grow in fresh meat, that an electric bill is overdue as soon as you open it, that the first time you try something you’re already addicted.”


Rue de Montreuil


Where Princess Diana died …

… 16 years later, it is still a shrine.


C215 in Paris


Found these gems near Rue Nationale and Rue Vincent-Auriol in Paris. Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world 🙂


The Sonke Woman


On Rue de l’Abbaye, Paris. I’ve photographed Sonke before, and it is always moving.


Clet Abraham takes over Paris

I’ve blogged Clet Abraham’s work before, in the UK and in Germany, but it seems he has been busy in Paris. Look at all this awesomesauce!

 

 

Check out my Clet Abraham category for more of his work that I’ve photographed!


Fred le Chevalier’s body (of work)

Remember yesterday when I said to pay attention to this empty wall under this Space Invader?

I photographed this one day.

Came back a few days later, and found this:


The work is by Parisian artist Fred le Chevalier, whom I have blogged about before. That’s how quickly street art happens. The one moment you’re not looking, bam. Art happens.

And here’s a whole bunch more of his stuff that I found all around Paris…


This translates to, “I inhabit a house in me. -Fred le Chevalier”


Another FlC underneath another ‘Vader🙂


The Best Space Invaders from Paris

I have photographed Space Invaders all around the world (as my Space Invader category can attest to), and I have photographed some wonderful ‘Vaders in Paris before (here and here), but this time in Paris, I wasn’t even really looking for ‘Vaders, as I was actually there to do a Writers Tour of Paris, but it seems the ‘Vaders were out to find me. I found, without even trying, some of the largest ‘Vaders in Paris and quite possibly the world. I took 120 photographs of JUST Space Invaders.

Invader is very productive.


Boulevard des Filles-du-Calvaire.
This is the biggest ‘Vader I have ever seen.


It’s bigger than the door!


I was lucky to find this one. I wasn’t planning on going to the Oberkampf area, but my CouchSurfing host told me he had seen one here, without really giving me a street name or an intersection. So I hopped on a Vélib and rode up from Place de la Bastille and just happened upon it!


Rue Trousseau. I was just walking along, and was stopped on this street corner for a red light, looked behind me to try and find the street name, and this ‘Vader was staring down on me!


See it? I know the door is mesmerizing but….

ah, voila.


I love the detail of the tiles coming down the bottom, forming what looks like a Masonry symbol, but it could be anything…

As I was photographing this little guy, two people walked by me, and the guy was like, WTF? The woman had to explain to him about ‘Vaders, which is surprising, because every Parisien I’ve ever met knows all about ‘Vader.


Cité Aurry.


Pay attention to this huge ‘Vader, specifically the empty space underneath it. In a later blog post, I will show you how something popped up in the week from when I first visited this spot, to the next week. A particular street artist has been very busy …


This was on Boulevard Saint Germain. I love love love the ‘Vaders inside the floppy disks! Found others like this in Paris before, but it always excites me.


Rue la Bruyère


Place Pigalle

Rue de Bagnolet, pretty ‘Vaders all in a row!


Quai Branly, across the street from La Tour Eiffel


Cité Aurry, looking down upon the cobbles


See it?



Rue de Bagnolet


Rue des Orteaux


Boulevard de Charonne, but I couldn’t get close to it, sorry guys! Grainy, crap shot.


Rue de Candie

And the stickers:)

Check out my Space Invader category to see all the ‘Vaders I have photographed all around the world!


The Paris Selfie

I am a master at this. I am also shameless.


Through The Spectre of Time: finding the relics of Paris’ past

Paris is a city of gorgeous relics, artefacts, and reminders of a time gone by.

Whereas most modern cities bulldoze and pave over their past to build something new and flashy, Paris’ history from centuries-past is not only still standing, but still in use.

They take old buildings and reuse them with very little modifications. They repurpose old signs, old books, old furnishings, and keep them alive as if they hit the markets only yesterday. Just because something is old doesn’t mean you throw it out, or put it in a museum and lock it behind glass. If it’s still useable, use it.

My time in Paris showed how much of the past is still tangible today.

First stop for anyone curious about Paris’ past alive in the present is Maxim’s.

The restaurant and dance hall from La Belle Epoque (a period of 15 years from approximately 1899 to 1914) has never been remodelled, and was left undamaged by both World Wars. Apart from installing computerized cash registers and modern electricity, the interiors, the furnishings, the architecture, even the plates, are all originals and approximately 113 years old. Maxims now runs an English-language tour by appointment-only during the day, and I managed to snag a spot.


La Belle Epoque furnishings were characterized by the repeated use of the female body on all things, like this ashtray.


Or this dish.


Even the money!


An original Toulouse-Lautrec drawing!


Another Toulouse-Lautrec! Now this isn’t the original painting, it’s a poster BUT the poster dates back 113 years, so it IS an original poster from the time when this was an actual promotional poster, not a work of art to decorate your home.


This dressing table with typical ladies’ grooming tool of the day (brushes, mirrors, etc) are gorgeous but seem pretty standard until you are told that they belonged to THE ONE AND ONLY SARAH BERNHARDT! Notice her portrait on the table?


I double dare you to ride that bike.


Female body everywhere. Note the shape of this water jug … it’s quite… suggestive. Don’t you think?


Then there was this gorgeous book-holder (adorned with a lady, of course) which was behind a locked cabinet so I couldn’t pull it out. From the awkward angle I had to photograph, I could barely make out the book title.


It says La Fille du Maudit by Lord Marcus, but the internet has absolutely no information on this book, which is surely out of print and forgotten by time. But if you look back at the front cover, from behind the holder, you can barely make out the publishing location as Rue Des Grands-Augustins which, as you’ll remember from my last post, was where Picasso’s studio was….. interesting.


The cremerie polidor is infamous in Paris for three reasons:
#1 It’s exterior and interior have remained unchanged for over 100 years, and has sat in the same location since 1845!!

#2 Hemingway and James Joyce used to hang out here.


#3 An integral scene from the movie Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen was shot here (specifically, the scene where Gil meets Hemingway, and we learn how much Zelda Fitzgerald hates Hemingway and vice versa).


See!

Here’s a historic location that practically no tourists get to see (unless they’re crafty like me): La Petite Ceinture!

Wikipedia describes it thusly:
The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (French for “little belt railway”) was a Parisian railway that, from 1852, was a circular connection between Paris’ main railroad stations within the fortified walls of the city. In a partial state of abandonment since 1934, the tracks (and some stations) still remain along much of its right-of-way…. Many French railway enthusiasts nostalgically regard the Petite Ceinture as a surviving element of bygone era, and there are several associations whose aim is to protect the abandoned railway and its remaining stations as part of France’s national heritage.”

Did you get that folks? This is a rail line & station from 18-FRICKEN-52 that was abandoned in 1934! Yes, lotsa graffiti has found its way onto the historical relic, but… but … LOOK AT ALL THE ABANDONED HISTORY STILL STANDING!

LOOK AT IT!


These two men were city workers tasked with cleaning up the joint, and they told me that technically they’re not allowed to let people in. When I found the normally-locked gate ajar and walked in, I asked them if it was okay for me to see it, and they said yes, they’ll defy their boss and walk me through it. They were awfully kind and took down my blog address. HI FELLAS!


The abandoned railway station. Despite its load of graffiti, you can still decipher the 1852 architecture. The platform, the stairwell for arriving passengers, the waiting area above…


The front of the station.


The planks are 170 years old, as are the nails and spikes …


It’s so cool that the rail lines and bridges rise above Paris, but no one knows it’s there, nor do they have access to it. If only they knew the jewel rising above their streets.

And now some random historical gems that I happened upon…


An ornate patisserie in Montmartre which, undoubtedly, looked the same 90 years ago.


This old Bistro and Hotel was being gutted when I found it, but look at the façade and exterior mosaic decorations. I would date this as anywhere from World War I to the 1930s.


I love it. Just imagine a bunch of men with watch-fobs and fedoras standing outside this establishment to drink a pint and smoke a pipe. I can see it now.


As you can see here, Rue Tournefort used to be called Rue Neuve Genevieve because, 300 years ago, they used to carve the street names into the buildings. I love its permanence, and how no modernity nor change can rob it of its ever-present past.


Gorgeous Belle Epoque architecture on Rue Chapon


Rue des Thermopyles. Even though this is located in the heart of Paris, it looks like a tiny village road somewhere out in the countryside.


Rue des Thermopyles’ charming yellow door.


… right next to a charming blue door.


…. right next to a charming green door.


The old letters box.



Place Contrescarpe

Of course there are so many more historical gems peppering the streets of Paris. Have you found any amazing sites? Leave a comment below!


The Writers Tour of Paris

Paris has always been a city of and for writers. Everyone from Molière to Houellebecq has called Paris home, called it inspiring, and therein found an audience for their writing. I have been visiting Paris annually since 2005, and I know the city very well, in fact I feel like a local (my fluency in French helps, of course). Every time I’ve been to Paris, I’ve never been bored or ran out of activities to do. This time, I decided that since I am in the process of writing my second novel, my activities this time might as well reflect that …. and therefore, to walk in the footsteps of the literary greats before me. So I fashioned my own Writers Tour of Paris. Why  pay someone for a tour when you can do it yourself?

I did days-upon-days of research online before I went, taking endless pages of notes, and re-read A Moveable Feast on the train to Paris from Cologne. Here is the fruits of my labour.

#1 Ernest Hemingway, 74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine

Of course he would be my first port of call. Hemingway called Paris “a moveable feast” and wrote some of his greatest works, including The Sun Also Rises, whilst living there in the 1920s with his first wife, Hadley.

In 1922, he moved to 74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, around the corner from Place Contrescarpe and the Luxembourg Gardens.

This is the blue door leading up to his flat that had no bathroom or toilet of its own (not uncommon in flats of the time, where tenants would all share a bathroom down the hall. I’ve stayed in some hostels that maintain that architectural oddity). I have read conflicting reports that he & Hadley either lived on the 3rd or 4th floor. Hemingway writes about scribbling in his notebooks in the early morning when only the cat and his baby boy “Bumby” were awake. After Hadley would wake, he would scoot off down to some of the nearby cafes and bars. He also talks about the dance hall “la bal musette” which was situated underneath the flat. That was located where the left window is under the plaque, it is now used as a convenience store. Of course people still live in this flat today, so I couldn’t go inside, but I peered in through the front door and saw the classic black and white checkered floor tiles, obviously orginal as they were cracked and warped with time in a gorgeous latitude, and the narrow spiral staircase to the back with the wrought iron bannister, clearly dating to at least 100 years prior.

For you non-French speakers, this says that Hem lived here from 1922-23 on the third floor with Hadley. It says the neighbourhood, which he loved above all, was the birthplace of his style, form and content. He became friendly with his neighbours, including the owner of la bal musette. It then quotes from A Moveable Feast, where Hem says, “That was the Paris of our youth, at a time when we were very poor and very happy.” The “we” being him and Hadley, whom Hemingway later regretted cheating on and divorcing. A Moveable Feast was published after his death, but he was writing it in the early 60s when he was on his fourth wife. In that context, when he writes “I wish I’d died before I loved anyone but her,” we can deduce that, 40 years after their separation, he still held her in his highest regard.

As I tried to photograph the 3rd and 4th floor windows, I noticed a sign that said “Under Hemingways” which was for a travel agency.

#2 Hemingway, 39 Rue Descartes

This location, around the corner from Rue Cardinal Lemoine, used to be a hotel where Hem rented the top floor flat as a studio to write and work. He said that staring out over the rooftops of the quarter and seeing the chimneys was very inspiring to him. Now it’s a restaurant with a somewhat uninformed plaque.


He never lived there, just worked. Above that plaque, it says that poet Verlaine died in this building in 1844. So I guess Hemingway must have enjoyed the ghosts and spirits of good company.

#3 James Joyce

Back on Cardinal Lemoine is the courtyard leading up to the gated house where James Joyce lived when he wrote Ulysses. Hem was a fan of Joyce’s when they finally met via Sylvia Beach.


I once visited Dublin where Joyce was from, and ate at the very pub where he used to eat and write all the livelong day.

#4 Gertrude Stein, 27 Rue de Fleurus


Gertrude Stein was a writer but she was mostly known as an art collector and for entertaining in her flat all of the most current and du jour artists and writers of the time. It was here that she received Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, among others, and lived with her partner Alice B. Toklas.


It’s hard to know which window was hers, so let’s just pretend it’s one of these.

#5 Man Ray, 2 bis Rue de Férou

Not a writer but just as influential on the culture of the time, anyway. I have always loved Man Ray ever since my first year in university where I gave a presentation on his photography. Considering that he photographed everyone in his studio from Hem to Stein to Dali, et al, I think he deserves some inclusion.


Right next to his door, on the wall, the city had painted the words of one of Rimbaud’s poems. It was said that when Rimbaud wrote the poem near Saint Sulpice, which was to the right of Man Ray’s studio, the wind was blowing up the street, from right to left, so that is why the poem was painted from right to left… the verse you see here is the final verse.

#6 Sylvia Beach, 12 Rue de L’Odéon

Sylvia Beach was the original owner and proprietor of the infamous Shakespeare & Company bookstore. Most anglophones in Paris these days know of the shop’s location on Rue de la Huchette, directly across la Seine from Notre Dame. That is where second owner George Whitman moved the shop. But in the 1920s, this is where Sylvia had her store and lending library. Hem wrote of her and shop as the greatest, that Sylvia would lend him novels and tomes without really knowing him, and not expecting money in return. Sylvia also was the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses, when no other publisher would take him.

Right next door was this charming bookshop, and I originally photographed it because it resembles what Shakespeare & Co might have looked like in the 1920s.

Then I noticed the plaque above it, and realized that is where writer Thomas Paine lived when he wrote The Rights of Man during the French Revolution.

#7 Sylvia Beach, 8 Rue Dupuytren

Before Beach set up Shakespeare & Co on Rue de L’Odéon, she set it up here on Rue Dupuytren, where she also lived above.


I love photographing the windows of these places, imagining these great people pushing aside the curtains, peering out over the city, and wondering about their place in the world. Just like I do.

#8 Shakespeare and Company

I and many other bloggers have photographed the snot out of this shop for decades, so I didn’t necessarily feel the need to photograph it again and again, as I have over the years. I visited it, as I do every time I visit Paris, just to read, think, write, and get out of the rain. I sat upstairs in the library for about four hours, doing just that. Where the books have a wonderful old-book smell, where the window looks out over Notre Dame, where the typewriters no longer work from worn-out ribbons, and the floor tiles click with each heel.

Shakes & Co has a history of letting struggling writers live in the shop for free while they work on their tomes. If you want to know more about this, I highly suggest reading the memoir Time Was Soft There, written by Canadian Jeremy Mercer. It details his life as a struggling writer living in the shop with George Whitman. It’s great and moving.


Whilst there, I read the first four chapters of this. What is this? The hardcover with the lovely H & E initials coupled together?


It’s The Paris Wife. A fictionalized account of Hadley and Hemingway’s early years together in Paris, told from Hadley’s point of view.

#9 Pablo Picasso, 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins

Here, beyond the gates, is where Pablo Picasso’s studio was located in the 20s and 30s. It was here that he painted Guernica.

What’s also incredible is that this is also the setting for Balzac’s short story “The Unknown Masterpiece” in the 19th century. Picasso was, apparently inspired by that, even though his masterpiece is well-known.

So the gates of this house were open, and I couldn’t seem to find a single soul on the lot, so, being the curious case that I am, I wandered inside.

And look what had happened right across the street a couple hundred years earlier:

It says, in that spot, Louis XIII received the sacrement one hour after his father, Henry IV, died.

And for some reason, this wheatpaste was on the wall.

#10 F. Scott Fitzgerald, 14 Rue Tilsitt

Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived here with their young baby as he was writing The Great Gatsby. This is literally around the corner from L’Arc de Triomphe


I wasn’t sure which window was his, but again, I like to pretend one of these was his, and he would stare out onto the street, over the top of L’Arc de Triomphe, and wonder about his future. The Great Gatsby was a modest hit during his lifetime. Sure it was made into a film back then, but by the end of his life in the 60s, he was a Hollywood hack, working only on the strength of his name, rather than his successes. He was known to purchase copies of his own book, just to increase his sales. He died thinking himself a failure.

#11 Honoré de Balzac, 47 Rue Raynouard

It’s crazy to think that at the time Balzac lived here in the 1800s, this was beyond the city limits of Paris, considered suburban, and therefore, one could live in a house with such a huge garden! Surrounding Balzac’s surviving house is row upon row up high-rises (ornate and sumptuous as they may be, from the early 20th century), but urban nonetheless. His house stands out.

Balzac’s house has been turned into a museum that’s free to the public. It’s a charming little home, which details his writing habits. He would wake up around midnight and, fueld by endless cups of coffee, he would find inspiration in the stillness and solitude of the night. He would continue this way until it was time to eat in the morning and afternoon.

Here is his chair, his writing desk, and one of his manuscripts under glass.

#12 Emile Zola, 21 Rue de Bruxelles


At the time Zola lived here, it was a swinging hotel behind Place Clichy. Now it’s just another abandoned but beautiful architectural relic.


He wrote his infamous essay J’accuse here, and also died here.


Windows as far as the eye can see. Ideas, tantamount.

#13 Ezra Pound, 70 bis Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs


There was no plaque, and very little information on what Pound did here during his time here. I was mostly on Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs in order to find Hemingway & Hadley’s second home at 113 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, but, oddly, to my surprise, I couldn’t find it! I found 111, I found 115, and I found 115 bis, but no 113! Is it unmarked? Hidden? Torn down for 115 bis?

#14 Marcel Proust, 102 Boulevard Hausmann


They turned Marcel Proust’s home into a bank.
#FacePalm

#15 Tamara de Lempicka, 5 Rue Guy de Maupassant


This is where my most favourite artist lived in the 1920s when she painted her most deliriously sumptuous art-deco portraits and had some scandalous affairs. I have been in love with Tamara de Lempicka’s work since I saw her work at Montreal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts when I was ten and bought a bookmark. In my 20s, I bought her posters, ripped her stuff out of magazines and books, framed them and hung them around my various shitty apartments.

So when I was taking the metro in Paris, I noticed by pure luck that the Pinacotheque was putting on a Lempicka exhibit, so I rushed to see it. You’re not allowed to take photographs inside the exhibit, but all the security guards were huddled in one corner having a gossip-fest, so I quickly whipped out the iPad out of their view, and snapped these images licketty-split.

#16 Victor Hugo and Les Misèrables

Les Mis is based on the June 1832 rebellion, not the French Revolution as many people erroneously believe. A student rebellion that only lasted a couple of days, where they barricaded the streets just north of Chatelet-les-Halles, but were bloodily defeated by the army.

According to wikipedia:

On June 5, 1832, Victor Hugo was writing a play in the Tuileries Gardens when he heard the sound of gunfire from the direction of Les Halles. The Gardens were deserted and the park-keeper had to unlock the gates to let Hugo out, but instead of hurrying home, he followed the sounds through the empty streets, unaware that half of Paris had already fallen to the mob. All about Les Halles were barricades. Hugo headed north up the Rue Montmartre, then turned right onto the Passage du Saumon, and at last turning before the Rue du Bout du Monde (World’s End Street). Halfway down the alley, the grilles at either end were slammed shut. Hugo was surrounded by barricades and flung himself against a wall, as all the shops and stores had been closed for some time. He found shelter between some columns. For a quarter of an hour, bullets flew both ways.

Doing some digging, I found that these above streets were still there, exact renamed. Passage du Saumon is now called Passage Ben Aiad, and Rue du Bout du Monde is now called Rue Leopold Bellan. So I decided to follow the footsteps of Hugo on that fateful day. I hung out in Les Tuileries for a bit, sitting under some trees to shield myself from the rain.

Then walked up Monmartre which is now a fashionable shopping district. I finally came upon Rue Leopold Bellan:

but finding the Passage Ben Aiad was more difficult than I imagined. Like Hugo getting trapped behind the grilled fences during the gun battle, there were a lot of passages that were closed off to the public by grilled fances, and not many of them are marked or well marked… so I wandered the area for about half and hour searching for the previously known Passage du Saumon, where he had to huddle from shooting death.

Then, I turned down the opposite street, and found the back entrance to it!


Let’s take a minute to ponder upon this, munchkins. This is the exact spot that, without which, we would not have one of the most rousing novels, one of the most stirring musicals, and one of the greatest documents of an otherwise-forgettable bloodbath. This is where it all happened. June Uprising, not forgotten, nor it’s auteur.


I stuck my camera through the gates, and the passage is now apparently home to many flats, but the grilled fences are still there.

It dons a historical marker, but it says nothing of the June Rebellion, oddly.

Speaking of Les Mis, in the novel, Hugo describes the battle as happening just south of this location near St Denis and “Rue de la Chanverrerie” which, in reality, was the Rue Rambuteau, which still exists today. It is also a disgusting shopping district with no historical markers visible (fucking Starbucks on the corner too), but I decided to photograph the street corner nonetheless.

#17 Edith Piaf, 18 Rue Véron

Again, not a writer, but an inspiring and talented artist nonetheless that is synonymous with Paris. I found out through my digging that, in the early 1930s when she was only 20 years old, she took a room at this location to focus on cultivating a singing career, which came later. So I wandered the hilly narrow streets of Montmartre to find it.


Again, no historical marker, but still standing. It says it’s a hotel, which I’d wager it was back then as well, but it appeared to be abandoned. No sign of life at the door. I stood in the opposite doorway as it rained and rained, imagining her running in and out of that door, in the rain as well, looking for a gig.

#18 The writer cafés of Montparnasse.

The Lost Generation of Hem, Fitzgerald, Stein, Pound, Beach, Picasso, et al, all talked about these cafes. They would come here to socialize, to drink, to write, to drink, to be inspired, and to drink. Walking along the boulevard, you can’t swing a bottle of Merlot without cracking it on 5 massive Parisian cafes.

La Rotonde

Le Dome

Le Select

L’Auberge de Venise (Dingo bar)

Now this one is super important, because it is where Hemingway first met F. Scott Fitzgerald. He details this encounter in A Moveable Feast, and says he didn’t much care for Fitzgerald. Later on in their friendship, Fitzgerald pulled Hem into the loo’s to show him his penis, insecure about it’s size because Zelda had given him a complex. Hem had to (much to his chagrin) assure the poor Scott that yes, his wang was of adequate size.


This is also where Hem first met Lady Duff Twysden, who would become the inspiration for the character of Brett in The Sun Also Rises.


Hem’s picture on the wall.


The bar where all these encounters went down.

La Closerie des Lilas


Another super important cafe because Hem writes about this cafe in detail. He loved coming here to write daily.


Le salon of Closerie des Lilas, where he undoubtably scribbled some of his most brilliant works.

#19 The Cafés of St Germain des Pres

Les Deux Magots

Hem writes a lot about writing at Les Deux Magots, which 100 years ago was a Chinese shop (the two “magots” in question are the Chinese figures which rise above the bar) but turned into a bar at some point. Hem wasn’t alone, the cafe is littered with photographs of other writers who frequented.


Here’s a pic of Hem sitting in the cafe, and it’s hung right above the spot where he was sitting.


This photograph of Simone de Beauvoir is hung exactly in the spot where he is depicted.

Cafe de Flore


In reality, I only photographed this cafe because I recently saw the Quebecois film Cafe de Flore starring Vanessa Paradis, and it was SO FUCKING GOOD that I figured the place the deserved a photo. Also, I love that woman that I captured turning around in front of the joint. She was being called out to by her young son who was being taken away by a nanny. It was a glorious moment in time.

As you can see, this tour was all-encompassing and took me an entire week to complete, as it traverses all across the city. But it was so worth it, so inspiring, and it helped me launch into the goodies of my second book (oh yes, this novel will be loaded with the goods).

I have much more to blog about Paris, and will do so tout suite. Expect more to come, my little munchkins.

Are you fan of the Parisian writers? Have you also visited these spots? Do you have your own inspiring Paris story? Tell me in the comments below!


I do not laugh, I do not cry, I say nothing


Found this on St Germain des Pres, Paris, next to Les Deux Magots café