As I write this post, we are still in the deep freeze! February has been a wickedly cold month, and Spring can’t come soon enough. I’ve already ordered some seeds and bulbs for my planters, and I’m anxious to get into the greenhouse to start organizing, readying it for what I hope, with a lot of TLC, will bring beauty to the garden! But for now, I will have to be content to let Nature run her course…
In the meantime, I can daydream about Spring in Paris and what I might be doing if I was visiting at this time of the year. Needlessly to say, Paris has been on my mind. Today it’s 13C there and the week ahead is cloudy and rainy, typical for March. One plus is that it’s not burning hot…perfect for a long walk…
Because time (there never seems to be enough) is precious when I’m in Paris, I like to plan ahead what I will do with the days I have. Just wondering around is great fun too but you could be walking by something historic and not even know. One thing I know for sure… there is no time to be backtracking! If I want to visit a particular neighbourhood (arrondissement), I will have a list of places to see and try to figure out the best route that incorporates stops for coffee or wine (better yet, champagne), lunch and when you are so exhausted, and your feet are killing you, the perfect spot for dinner to unwind and rehash the day.
Being prepared sets you up for a perfect day of adventure. For me, it’s always about the proper footwear. Walking miles on uneven cobblestones and cement can be a challenge. Parisiennes walk everywhere, and you’ll notice that they trod in sensible shoes too…nothing ugly though! Runners are popular there, but not just any kind of runner! Also, you will see women wearing low heels, and ballet flats are still a popular choice, however, because they are so flat, I’m not sure they are the best choice for a long walk. I always bring a lightweight nylon, zippered tote bag, to carry purchases made along the way. I like to keep cash or a credit card tucked into a front pocket as well as a photocopy of my passport…I believe it’s a law in Paris to carry photo ID. If you make any major purchases, you will want to have your passport information so that you can get the necessary paperwork in order to get back the taxes. This has to be done at the airport before leaving the country. It has been my experience that most boutiques will accept a copy of your passport. The last thing you want is to lose your passport or have it stolen.
This is one of the walking days I’ve done on the Left Bank (5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements). I call it the “Hemingway Day“, however, I’ve tucked in a few other highlights along the way (no backtracking)!
Hotel d’Angleterre, 44 Rue Jacob
This is the hotel where I like to stay when I’m in Paris. It’s also where Ernest and Hadley Hemingway chose to spend the first night they were in Paris. Apparently, Hemingway frequented the hotel many times later in his life. If you’re lucky (or if you specifically request long in advance), you too can stay in this room, #14, shown in this photo.
There is no wrong way to do a walking day because every street has a surprise or two, however, Rue de Grenelle has a host of shopping delights. Whether you want to do some serious damage to your credit card or just window shop, I don’t think you will be disappointed. There is lots of interest on both sides of Rue de Grenelle so you may be zigzagging along the way.
Rue de Grenelle
These are just a few shoppes along the way
- #2, La Perla
- #7, Prada
- #24, Mage
- #38, Christian Louboutin
Rodin Museum, 77 Rue de Varenne
Although there are spectacular sculptures inside the museum, (The Hotel Biron, which was once the workshop of Auguste Rodin) and a beautiful, sweeping staircase, I prefer spending my time meandering through the gardens. You can purchase a ticket to see both the museum and gardens or just the gardens. Sprinkled here and there you will find some of these masterpieces in the gardens. “The Thinker” sits amid groomed evergreens that are clipped to perfection…not a needle out of place. A beautiful rose garden, with every colour and variety, borders the walkways. If you are facing “The Thinker” you will see in the distance the top of the Eiffel Tower, as well as the shiny gold dome of Les Invalides.
A cafe on the grounds, with tables tucked in a shady garden area, is a welcome spot to relax with a cool beverage and drink in all the beauty around…
Le Bon Marche, 24 Rue de Sevres
Le Bon Marche is a beautiful department store that has become quite exclusive. Once (back to 1838) it was a housewares and fabric store. Over the years it has expanded greatly and since 1984 is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton group). Elegantly curated, it features just the creme de la creme of the designer lines it carries. I like to check their selection of Diptyque candles.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris, #38, Rue de Sevres
Across the street is the La Grande Epicerie food emporium. If you want to pick up any gifts for “foodies” this is a must see.
Now onto the Hemingway part of the day!
Gertrude Stein’s Salon, #27, Rue de Fleurus
If you read the book, “The Paris Wife” or saw the movie, “Midnight in Paris” you will remember Gertrude Stein and her famous salon where she entertained artists and writers. This was the place to be seen and meet your contemporaries. Hemingway met Gertrude Stein fairly soon after his arrival in Paris in the early 1920s. She was instrumental in connecting him with the right people who could further his career. Stein lived here for many years with her partner Alice B. Toklas. These iron gates look into a courtyard (as seen in photograph left). You can’t see into Gertrude Stein’s apartment, but you can daydream for a moment about being a part of the literary crowd of that time.
Along the way, you will see Le Select, Le Dome and La Rotonde. Hemingway frequented these brasseries/bars often!!! You can also pass the location of Ernest and Hadley’s second apartment (no longer the same building) at #113 Rue Notre Dame des Champs.
La Closerie Des Lilas, #171 Boulevard du Montparnasse
By the time you reach La Closerie des Lilas, you will be ready for a break! Weather permitting, the patio is the place to be. Unlike most bistros in Paris, this patio is quite secluded offering a shady retreat on a hot, sunny day.y
Hemingway spent long hours here writing what many think was his best novel, “The Sun Also Rises”. Although he didn’t sit at the same table every day, there is a plaque at the bar where he sat often.
Instead of giving the directions in the body of this post I have listed them below. My intention was to talk about the full day in one post, but this is getting rather wordy…I will write about the afternoon walk of the “Hemingway Day” next week.
Stops along the way:
Hôtel d’Angleterre Saint Germain des Prés: 44 Rue Jacob
Head southeast on Rue Jacob toward Rue Saint-Benoît (27m)
Turn right onto Rue Saint-Benoît
Head south on Rue Saint-Benoît toward Rue Guillaume Apollinaire (97m)
Turn right onto Boulevard Saint-Germain (84m)
Turn left onto Rue du Dragon (120m)
Rue du Dragon
Head southwest on Rue du Dragon toward Rue de Grenelle (130m)
Turn right onto Rue de Grenelle (1.1 km)
Rue de Grenelle
Head south on Rue de Bourgogne toward Rue de Varenne (210m)
Turn right onto Rue de Varenne (71m)
Rodin Museum: 77 Rue de Varenne
Head east on Rue de Varenne toward Rue de Bourgogne (600m)
Turn right onto Rue du Bac (350m)
Destination will be on the left
Le Bon Marché: 24 Rue de Sèvres
Head south on Rue du Bac toward Rue de Sèvres (92m)
Continue onto Rue Saint-Placide (400m)
Turn left onto Rue de Vaugirard (16m)
Continue onto Rue Notre Dame des Champs (67m)
Turn left onto Rue de Fleurus (150m)
27 Rue de Fleurus
Head west on Rue de Fleurus toward Boulevard Raspail (68m)
Turn left onto Boulevard Raspail (400m)
Turn right onto Rue Vavin (97m)
Turn right onto Boulevard du Montparnasse
Destinations will be on the right
Le Select 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse
La Rotonde 105 Boulevard du Montparnasse
Le Dome 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse
113 Rue Notre Dame des Champs
Head southeast on Rue Notre Dame des Champs toward Avenue de l’Observatoire (180m)
Cross the road
La Closerie Des Lilas: 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse