An Afternoon with Hemingway…

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We left off last week at the La Closerie des Lilas and a suggestion that this is a good spot to stop for lunch or refreshments…or better yet…both.  After a well-deserved break, the next stop is Luxembourg Gardens just a few steps from the bistro.

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Jardin du Luxembourg, 75006 Paris

The original Luxembourg Palace was constructed in 1612 for the widow of Henry IV, Marie de Medici.  It is now owned by the French Senate where government sessions are held. The gardens, now over 55 acres in size, are laid out in both the French and English landscape design style with the Medici Fountain adding some Italian flair.  People of every age frequent the garden… seniors playing cards or games,  the la boule courts are always occupied, tennis courts usually have to be reserved, students occupy the green iron chairs scattered throughout, children playing with the toy boats in the Grand Basin, and of course tourists wandering around in awe.

There are over a hundred statues to admire.  One that I like to visit is the replica of the Statue of Liberty.  If you happen to visit around September 11,  you will see the mound of flowers left in memory of all those lost on 9/11.  Keeping the statues company are a million bees buzzing about producing over 450 pounds of honey annually.    (Paris is a pesticide-free zone.)  One of my favourite areas in the garden is the espaliered apple and pear orchard.

This was one of Hemingway’s favourite places to walk and think…

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The Pantheon, 75005 Paris

The Pantheon (built 1758-1790) was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve.  It sits on top of a hill overlooking Paris in the 5th arrondissement. Many famous French people such as Voltaire and Victor Hugo are interred here.

The real show stopper at the Pantheon is the Foucault pendulum 24-hour clock pictured above.  It was built in 1851 to demonstrate the earth’s rotation.  The pendulum hangs by a 67-metre wire from the central dome of the Pantheon.  It’s truly impressive and well worth a visit.

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The Steps at Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Church, Place Saint-Genevieve, 75005 Paris

If you saw the movie, “Midnight in Paris” you will remember that these “steps” could be considered a character in the storyline.  Located just behind the Pantheon,  you will know you are close if the church bells happen to chime.   It’s where  “Gil” (Owen Wilson) was picked up every night at the stroke of midnight…you will hear the 12 church bell chimes.  Once he enters the 1928 Peugeot, he travels back in time to the 1920s.  These steps are at the side entrance of the church.

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Hemingway’s First Apartment, #74, Rue du Cardinal Lemoine

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Ernest and Hadley Hemingway lived in a 3rd-floor apartment at this location from 1921-1923.  The apartment was bare bones, no running water, overlooking the street below.  It was noisy…there was a dance club at street level where dancers spilled out onto the street until all hours.  In spite of all this, the newlyweds were happy here.



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Shakespeare and Company, #12 Rue de l’Odeon

Sylvia Beach was an American who lived in Paris most of her adult life.  Although this wasn’t the original location of her bookshop, she operated her business here from 1921-1941.  This was a meeting place for expatriates and many struggling writers.  Hemingway and Beach became close friends. Knowing he couldn’t afford to pay for books, she often lent him the books he was interested in.

Beach closed her bookshop during the war after being intimated by a German officer who wanted one of her rare first edition copies.  After refusing to part with it, he threatened that he would be back.  She quickly moved all her books to her upstairs apartment and never reopened.  I have read that Hemingway very gallantly drove an American army jeep to Shakespeare and Company at the time of the liberation of Paris to make sure Sylvia was safe.  It’s been said that as he roared up the Rue de l’Odeon, he was shouting out her name.  Hearing him,  she was so relieved that she ran out into the street and jumped into Hemingway’s open arms!

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In the early 1900s,  this was the meeting place for the literary and intellectual “hipsters” of the time.  Hemingway frequented Les Deux Magots often as well the Brasserie Lipp directly across the boulevard.

Today the bistro remains a hot spot for locals as well as tourists.  I always say it’s on the corner of “what’s happening” and “what’s happening”.  You can literally watch the world go by.  If you are sitting on the side patio, you will see the Abbey de Saint-Germain Church, one of the oldest churches in Paris.  Regular services and concerts are still held here.

You may decide to have dinner here and channel Hemingway by engaging in intellectual conversation!

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Le Pre aux Clercs, #30, Rue Bonaparte (corner of Rue Bonaparte and Rue Jacob

If you are up for one more glass of wine (remember Hemingway enjoyed drinking), you could make one last stop at Le Pre aux Clercs.  This bistro is just down the way from the starting point of this walking day, Hotel d’Angleterre.  Ernest and Hadley had their first meal in Paris here.


Stops along the way:

  •  La Closeries des Lilas – go north on Avenue de l’Observatoire toward the back entrance of the Luxembourg Gardens.
  •  The Statue of Liberty – Follow along to the left of the gardens to see the replica.
  •  The Grand Basin – to watch the ducks and children playing with the toy sailboats in the central part of the gardens.
  •   The Palais du Luxembourg
  •   The Medici Fountain– close to the front entrance on the right side of the gardens.
  • Head east – (69m)
  • Turn left toward Rue de Medici, turn right  (36m)
  • At Place Edmond Rostand take the 3rd exit onto Rue Soufflot
  • Turn left onto Place du Pantheon  (180m)
  • Pantheon is ahead
  • Go east toward Rue Clothilde (36m)
  • Turn left onto Rue Clotide  (10m)
  • Turn right onto Rue Clovis  (59m)  to steps at the side of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont
  • Head east on Rue Clovis toward Rue Descartes  (190m)
  • Turn right onto Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, find #14
  • Backtrack to the Pantheon
  • Stay right to stay on Place du Pantheon  (77m)
  • Turns slightly left and becomes Rue Soufflot  (280m)
  • At Place Edmond Rostand take the 3rd exit onto Rue de Medicis  (250m)
  • Turn right onto Rue Corneille  (96m)
  • Slight left onto Place de l’Odeon  (24m)
  • Right onto Rue de l’Odeon to #12,  original Shakespeare and Company  (100m)
  • Head north to Carrefour de l’Odeon  (100m)
  • Take a slight left onto Carrefour de l’Odeon  (74m)
  • Turn left onto Boulevard Saint-Germain to Les Deux Magots, #6  (450m)
  • Head north onto Rue Bonaparte to Le Pre aux Clercs, #30  (200m)

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The Hotel d”Angleterre,  44 Rue Jacob is just down the street from Le Pre aux Clercs.   You are home after a long day of walking in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps.

This is the small courtyard at the hotel where you can have a nightcap and plan the next day…





Ernest Hemingway loved his early years in Paris…it’s where he found the words to some of his finest work…

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4 thoughts on “An Afternoon with Hemingway…”

  1. Oh my Judy you are making me so homesick for my second home! I recall you laying this plan out for me on my first visit to Paris! I found it so useful and discovered other things along my way! It is truly a wondrous city, I hope we both can get back sooner than later…..

  2. Hello Judy. Reading your posts makes my heart ache for Paris, but also gives me something to look forward to. Thank you for your beautiful posts.

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