Kiki par Man Ray

You can put some music on, while reading this article (see at the bottom of this page “Charleston” (Midnight in Paris) – Enoch Light Orchestra)

Parisian Café - Le Dôme Paris circa 1920

Cafe Le Dôme in the 20s

Montparnasse  : the spirit of the beginning of the 20th century.

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Montparnasse is the area around Vavin Metro StopSituation de Montparnasse ds Paris.09

Montparnasse often gets bypassed when visitors come to Paris. At first sight : not a touristic place, no highlight spot, nor renown buildings. But culturally, it is a central neighborhood, rich by its history. And a very Parisian and nice place to live in. 

Surely a neighborhood where to find the spirit from the beginning of the 20th Illustrations Années Follescentury. A wonderful mix of new and old.  An area where you have the feeling of a real neighborhood. And without hesitation, the area where I would choose and love to live if I had to move.

Location : Montparnasse is located on the Left Bank of the river Seine and covers parts of the 5th, 6th,14th and 15th arrondissements. It’s bordered by the Luxembourg garden to its north. 

Some history 

Kiki de Montparnasse. Photo by Man Ray, 1924.

Kiki de Montparnasse. the muse of Montparnasse – Photo by Man Ray, 1924.

Montparnasse reached its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, between WWI and WWII. It was then the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris. It’s called “Les Années Folles” (=the Roaring 20s”). Montparnasse became the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris, and Vavin (Metro Stop : Vavin) was the center of the neighborhood.

Many artists came from Montmartre to settle in Montparnasse in search of low rent (lodging and workshops). 

Others from around the world (from Europe, including Russia and Ukraine, from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, central and South America, and Japan) came to stay in Montparnasse, looking for a place they could freely work and create. Between 1921 and 1924, the number of Americans in Paris swelled from 6000 to 30000. 

 

 

robe années 20 Trois jeune femmes à la terrasse d'un café parisien - 1928

Some of the artists in Montparnasse in the 20s

Painters, writers, sculptors, poets, photographers, composers… And most of the Paris artistic community settled in Montparnasse neighborhood. 

Pablo Picasso, Samuel Beckett, Joan Miro, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Tsugouharu FoujitaDiego Rivera, Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire, Salvatore Dali, Man Ray, Marc Chagall, Eric Satie, Zadkine, Degas, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Miller, George Braque, Jean Cocteau, Chaim Soutine, Blaise Cendrars, Fernand Léger, André Breton, Giacometti, Dos Passos…

The importance of the cafes

They frequented the cafés along Boulevard Montparnasse, such as La Closerie des Lilas, La Rotonde (photo above), Le Dôme (photos below), Le Select, La Coupole…

A charming neighborhood 

Kiki de Montparnasse3

Kiki de Montparnasse, the muse of Montparnasse

Kiki de Montparnassethe Montparnasse’s muse. She was the model of many artists : Man Ray, Fujita, Modigliani… She was the lover of Man Ray.

 

Nowadays, young students from around the world, come around the art supplies shops and arts academy of the rue de la Grande Chaumière. 

 

Traditionnaly, Montparnasse is also “home” to Parisians coming from Brittany (Western France), because trains from Montparnasse station travels back and forth to Brittany. Many Breton people came to settle in Paris from the mid 19th century to the 1960s.

More recently, since the 70s, Montparnasse neighborhood has become more upscale and many old ateliers have been converted into upscale housing. Nowadays, still the cafés of the 20s and many others, restaurants, many crêperies (as crêpes are traditionally a Breton meal… !)

 

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Boulevard Montparnasse

Boulevard Montparnasse

My advice :

  • Get out at the Metro Stop Vavin (not Metro Stop : Montparnasse) which is the center of the real Montparnasse neighborhood. 
  • Enjoy a drink at “La Coupole” or at the café “Le Vavin” (rue de Vavin) to let you have a feeling of a real neighborhood. 
  • Rue Vavin (a small and short street), you’ll find one of the best Paris “Chocolatier” (Jean Paul Hevin). Also nice small shops. 
  • After your Montparnasse visit, you can enjoy the Luxembourg garden, just nearby (end of rue de Vavin)
  • You can choose to have a nice meal (pricey) at Le Select, Le Dome (for fish meals), or a nice restaurant in a small street rue Jules Chaplain. 
  • Lots of crêperies rue de Montparnasse for a nice meal (cheaper) and delicious. 
  • PRIVATE WALKING TOUR with a NATIVE PARISIAN in MONTPARNASSE neighborhood ? (Walk in the footsteps of the great artists who first found inspiration there : Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Modigliani, Man Ray…)  Contact me         
    • You only, or you and the person you choose. I’ll show you around in Montparnasse.
    • Duration of the tour : from 3 to 5 hours. It includes a coffee in an authentic cafe in Montmartre neighborhood. Can be included : the visit of an open door market of the neighborhood 

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More details :

  • Close access to major centers (a few minutes walks to Luxembourg garden, 15-20 minutes walk to Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter, 15 minutes by subway to the Eiffel Tower, lots of restaurants, an open market 3 days per week, many cafés (La Rotonde, Le Select, Le Dome, La Coupole…)
  • The renown cemetery Montparnasse (the second largest burial ground in Paris) : graves of many of the neighborhood’s most illustrious residents (Baudelaire, Beckett, Bartholdi – (who designed the Statue of Liberty), Maupassant, Man Ray, Samuel Beckett, Sartre, Beauvoir, Jean Seberg, Ionesco, Saint Saëns, Satie, Soutine, Zadkine, – Entrance on Bd Edgar Quinet – Paris 14 – Metro Stop : Edgar Quinet
  • La Closerie des Lilas : a Left Bank institution – A chic Piano Bar with a bronze plaque with Hemingway’s name. a Brasserie and a restaurant (pricey).  An article about Closerie des Lilas coming up soon. – 171 boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 6 – Metro Stop : Port Royal or Bus n°38 – Vavin (5 minutes walk)
  • Edgar Quinet Market : An excellent street Market every Wednesday and Saturday (fresh food and clothes). A crafts market on Sundays. – Boulevard Edgar Quinet – Paris 14
  • Bourdelle Museum :  a heaven of peace for lovers of art, sculpting. museum dedicated to the life and works of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. – Metro Stop : Montparnasse
  • La Fondation Cartier for exhibitions of contemporary art (a building designed by Jean Nouvel)
  • Numerous crêperies in the neighborhood (Metro stop : Vavin or Montparnasse) : a nice and affordable break (salted wheat flour crêpes and sweet crêpes). Crêpes = thin pancakes. An article coming up soon. 

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Charleston – Midnight in Paris : 

Maybe you’d feel like meeting the soul of the Lost Generation in Paris …

Nearby Notre Dame

YOUR Private walk, with Ann Jeanne in Paris, native Parisian

  • You’d like to feel like a local and having a tour in a Paris neighborhood, but you don’t feel having a tour with a group ?
  • You’d like to discover Paris off the beaten path ?
    You’d like to see Paris in another perspective and to know more about Paris lifestyle 

WELCOME !

CONTACT me for a private walking tour and EXPERIENCE PARIS as a local

  • You only, or you and the person you choose.
  • Duration of the tour : from 2 hours. It includes a coffee in an authentic cafe
  • The tour can be customized according to your preferences and interests 

For more details : The tours – Booking and Pricing

Don’t hesitate to contact me

La Closerie nowadays

“La Closerie des Lilas” means “Small enclosed lilac garden”. It’s a place, with an enormous charm, calm and elegant, which makes Paris magic. It’s one of the mythical brasseries of Montparnasse neighborhood.  The ambiance of old-world Paris.

WHERE ?

La Closerie des Lilas

“La Closerie des Lilas” is located in Montparnasse neighborhood which was, between WWI and WWII, the heart of the artistic and intellectual Parisian life (after Montmartre and before Saint Germain des Prés heydays). On the corner of Boulevard Montparnasse and Boulevard Saint Michel. A bit off the beaten path. Most regulars are Parisians.

A ONE MINUTE VIDEO FILMED ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON :

A bit of History : 

You can’t forget the richness of its past… La Closerie des Lilas is over 100 years old. It has entertained visitors from all over the world. And many writers and artists met up at the Closerie des Lilas.

Here, you can feel the presence of Hemingway

The only decent café in our neighborhood was La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafes in Paris. It was warm in the winter and the terrace was lovely in the spring and fall,” Hemingway – A Moveable feast

Also the hang-out for : Verlaine, Apollinaire, Beckett, Man Ray, Sartre, Baudelaire, Cezanne, Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, André Gide to name a few.

A revered haunt for the Lost generation writers  : Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway who used to come here to write. La Closerie des Lilas was one of Hemingway’s favorite cafés, where he wrote parts of “The sun also rises here”, and where Scott Fitzgerald showed him “Gatsby” for the first time. Behind the bar, one can find a picture of young Hemingway in an army uniform form WWI.

THE SETTING

A warm and cosy ambiance.

A restaurant with a pleasant terrace, a quaint little tree-enclosed patio, a brasserie, and a bar.

The bar : a gorgeous setting, low-lighted, with furniture made in polished mahogany, red-leather confortable banquettes, A brass and chrome bar. There are one-by-three-inch brass nameplates on the corner of the tables with engraved names of literary figures who supposedly sat there. The bartenders are dressed in white jacket. They will serve you a customized cocktail. Live music most evenings and the sunday afternoon too make the place even more special…. and a wonderful Art Deco bathroom. Probably the most beautiful bathroom in Paris  … and a wonderful Art Deco bathroom. Probably the most beautiful bathroom in Paris.                                                        

Practical details :

  • La Closerie des Lilas – 171 boulevard Montparnasse, Paris 6 –  Hours: 12 noon – 1:00 a.m.  Web site : www.closeriedeslilas.fr    Tel. : + 33(0)1 40 51 34 50
  • Metro : Vavin (line 4) or Raspail (line 4 and 6) (Both metro stop at about 7 min walk) RER : Port Royal (just beside the Closerie des Lilas), Bus : 38 (a bus stop just nearby)

My advice :

  • a must-go on your visit to Paris,
  • Why not a drink (a cocktail, a coffee, a hot chocolate or whatever) in the gorgeous bar, where the bartender will serve you a customized cocktail if you wish to !
  • When you have a drink , you can have a pastry too. The “assiette gourmande” is delightful (An “assiette gourmande” is an assortment of a few very littles pastries). 
  • Or for a lunch or dinner either at the restaurant (but quite pricey, an upscale restaurant) or the brasserie.
  • After a lunch, you can either go for a walk in the Observatoire garden, (nearby –   ) then the Luxembourg garden (10 minutes walk from La Closerie), or go for a walk in the Montparnasse neighborhood (around Vavin) then to the Luxembourg garden (an entrance nearby Vavin street)
  • … And don’t miss the bathroom, which is really gorgeous ! Beautiful Art Deco style. 
  • The 4 other popular literary cafés/brasseries in Montparnasse neighborhood are : “Le Select’, “La Rotonde”, “Le Dome” and “La Coupole”

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Ernest-Hemingway-quote

01 - Photo Hemingway - a moveable feast

Ernest HEMINGWAY :

1918 – La Madeleine (Metro : Madeleine)

First place for Hemingway in Paris : in 1918, Hemingway, a U.S. Red Cross volunteer at the time, found himself in front of the damaged façade of the church.

Hemingway in Saint Germain des Prés :

  • In 1921, Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, arrived in Paris and stayed in the “Hôtel d’Angleterre” ( room 14 – 44 rue Jacob – Paris 6) – Metro Saint Germain des Prés), recommended by the American writer, Sherwood Anderson, who also gave him letters of introduction to Gerturde Stein, James Joyce, and to the publisher Sylvia Beach.
    Hemingway often enjoyed coming to “Le Pré aux Clercs”, a cafe located nearby the Hôtel d’Angleterre, (30, rue Bonaparte – Paris 6 – Opening hours : 7/7 8am – 2am)
  • Brasserie Lipp (151 boulevard Saint Germain – Paris 6 – Metro Mabillon)  Hemingway was very fond of this place.
  • Michaud (= now called : “Le Comptoir des Saints-Pères”) in Saint Germain des Prés (corner of rue Jacob and rue des   Saints-Pères) – A restaurant
  • Cafe de Flore, 172 boulevard Saint Germain Metro Saint Germain des Prés: After the war, Hemingway used to come to the Coupole regularly.
  • Les Deux Magots, 6 place Saint Germain des Prés – Metro Saint Germain des Prés : One of the oldest cafes in Paris. Among its regulars : Verlaine, Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, Picasso, Oscar Wilde, André Malraux and Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

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Hemingway in Montparnasse :

  • 1924 – Hemingway moves in a flat near the Luxembourg Gardens (113, rue Notre-Dame-des -Champs – Metro Vavin)
  • La Rotonde (105, boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 14 – Metro Vavin) : That’s where he sometimes meets Henry Miller, Scott Fitzgerald and George Gershwin
  • Les Blés d’Ange (boulangerie) – 151 boulevard du Montparnasse – Metro Vavin : That’s where Hemingway was buying his pastries. It was easy for him to get there as it was opposite his house by Notre Dame des Champs.
  • La Closerie des Lilas**   Article about the Luxembourg Gardens : coming next°°° (171, boulevard Montparnasse – RER : Port Royal or Metro : Vavin) He wrote that it was “one of the best cafes in Paris” and it became his “home cafe”. Others writers used to come at the Closerie des Lilas such as Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde, Verlaine, Gide, Aragon, Fitzgerald, Sartre, Beckett. Earlier, other famous regulars used to come in this cafe such as : Zola, Gautier, Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac… That’s where Hemingway wrote his short stories. That’s also where he used to come after splitting up with this first wife, Hadley.
  • Le Select°°°° (99 boulevard Montparnasse – Metro Vavin) – Ernest Hemingway often start his day with breakfast at the Select. He also set several scenes in his novel “The Sun also Rises” (1926) here
  • The Dôme ( 108, boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 14 – Metro Vavin) : Hemingway loved this cafe because often frequented by writers, painters, and artists’ models, such as Gauguin, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Picasso, Miller, Nin and Man Ray.
  • La Coupole, 102 boulevard Montparnasse Paris 14 – Metro Vavin
  • The Dingo Bar ( = today : “Auberge de Venise” – 10 rue Delambre – Paris 14 – Metro Vavin) : That’s where Hemingway met Scott Fitzgerald for the first time. Where Picasso, and Jean Cocteau used to go as well
  • Hotel Venitia (no longer exists. Now, t’s a travel bookshop) 159 boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 14– Metro Port Royal, Vavin or Raspail
  • Ernest-Hemingway-quote
  • Hemingway and the Luxembourg Gardens** and museum (Metro : Luxembourg or Vavin)

    • This was Hemingway’s favorite place to walk. That’s where he would  often meet Gertrude Stein (The American writer, poetess and feminist) who was walking her dog there.
    • He also enjoyed admiring the impressionist paintings in the Luxembourg museum.  In “A moveable feast” he wrote : “I was learning something from the paintings of Cezanne that made writing simple true sentences far from enough to make the stories have the dimensions that I was trying to put in them. I was learning very much from him…”

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Hemingway in the Latin quarter :

This neighborhood inspired ‘s greatest early works.

  • 1922-1923 : Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley rented a very modest 2 rooms flat on the 3rd floor at 74, rue Cardinal Lemoine (Paris 5 – Metro Cardinal Lemoine). Hemingway described this place in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
  • Then he rented a studio, (39, rue Descartes – Paris 5 – Metro Cardinal Lemoine) in the attic in a four-story house. There was a small restaurant Chez Verlaine, on the ground floor.

About that time, Hemingway wrote : “I was always hungry with the walking and the cold and the working”.

  • Café des Amateurs (today “Café Delmas”, 2 place de la Contrescarpe – Paris 5 – Metro Cardinal Lemoine).  Hemingway wasn’t very fond of the place because regularly frequented by drunks from the neighboring houses, but started “A moveable feast” with the description of the Amateurs : “The Cafe des Amateurs was the cesspool of the rue Mouffetard, that wonderful narrow crowded market street which led into the Place Contrescarpe.”

(Nearby, the Rue Mouffetard”, one of the Paris’s oldest and liveliest streets, with a number of cafes, restaurants and a famous open market.)

  • Shakespeare and Company :  Sylvia Beach, the owner, gave him a borrowing card allowing him to take as many books as he wanted. In “A moveable Feast” Hemingway writes : “She had pretty legs and she was kind, cheerful and interested, and loved to make jokes and gossip. No one that I ever knew was nicer to me.”hemingway_bookshop devant Shakespeare

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Other Hemingway’s locations 

Hotel Ritz 15 place Vendôme – Paris 1 – Metro Tuileries : The bar at the Ritz was one of Hemingway’s favorite place. He spent  many evenings there with Scott Fitzgerald. To commemorate its guest, the bar was named after Hemingway.

69 rue Froidevaux – Paris 14 – Metro Gaité or Denfert Rochereau : The second apartment where he lived with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.

A-Moveable-Feast-e1354045713964

 

AND…… : Do you REMEMBER HEMINGWAY in “MIDNIGHT IN PARIS”  ?

ernesthemingway

 

 Article about La Closerie des Lilas 

**   Article about the Luxembourg Gardens : coming next

°°°° Article about Le Select coming next