It’s Sunday. I’ve made it to St Pancras and am now having to wait an hour until I board the Eurostar to Paris. It does seem a little surreal as I’m recovering from a chest infection that saw most of my evenings wiped out. All I could do was move from the writing desk to the bed and then in and out of sleep. Yes, I had to pack, which was a combination of ironing on Thursday – killing me by standing up – and physically packing on Friday – killing me by standing up and having to breathe. I had also planned on writing up a list of places to visit. I wanted to plot a few courses through the streets of Paris that I could follow, too. This would have been drawn up on the included tracing paper supplied on the Moleskin City notebook. I did nothing. But I got here with my ironed clothes packed.
When I arrive in Paris, I will need to get to my accommodation. I don’t have a time to be there. I cannot decide whether to take the Metro or walk to Rue des Ecoles. I’ve downloaded the Metro map app as a precaution. I need to take Line 4 from Gare du Nord towards Mairie de Montrouge, change at Odeon for Line 10 towards Gare d’Austerlitz and disembark at Cardinal Lemoine. From there, it’s only a little walk to the hotel. Whilst those 20 minutes on the Metro would be quick and cheap, it’s not really what I do here in Paris. Or even in London, for that matter. I much prefer the walk of the wild if it’s going to take less than half an hour. I get to see more, feel more, think more. The way I feel at the moment could mean that walking isn’t a realistic option.
One of my favourite thinking places is the bathroom. It’s my endroit tranquille. And it was only this morning whilst taking a shower after my shave that I realised I’m going to forego my regular assault of north of the Seine and opt for the more reclusive solitary efforts of the city and attempt to stay south for as much as possible. It seems like the majority of the action of the Lost Generation, at least the lost one that I’m interested in, took place in St. Germain and the surrounds. I have in mind to visit Les Deux Magots, not necessarily to be entertained or write (for that will be during my trip to Forum Les Halles, north of the water) but to take a photo. The same will be said for Cafe Flore, more so for the fact that Emily in Paris met the French professor “snob” whilst she drank her wine in episode 6.
In the episode Ringarde, Emily and Thomas visited Café de Flore. According to Thomas, the café was historically the home of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. People flocked to see the place, but it was actually, Les Deux Magots, the café across the street, that was the cool place, as Hemingway and Picasso used to drink there. Sartre and de Beauvoir decided it was too bourgeois, and they went to the Café de Flore because it was empty.Source
La Closerier des Lilas may hold a certain je ne sais pas for me. It’s the place where a handful of poets worked as well as where Hemingway dined. I suspect he ventured to places other than those listed here or on the generic “Where Hemingway went in Paris” webpages. I know for a fact that I haven’t mentioned everywhere that I’ve been. Some things remain memories and photographs whilst others are simply undocumented. When Hemingway wrote A Moveable Feast, would he have mentioned the places that were unmemorable? Maybe they just didn’t play a part in his planned memoir. And don’t forget, this was 40 years after the event. If he had a nice meal out with the wife after a gentle stroll around Le Marais, would it have crossed his mind to write about it? I doubt it very much. These were his memoirs, not a Lonely Planet travel guide.
What I am writing, whilst different, is also sort of the same. I’m not writing for the masses to follow my lead, I’m only mentioning the highlights to certain aspects of my journey. If there is a place that I don’t wish to mention, it isn’t because it’s not noteworthy, merely it’s not worthy of noting for the topic that I’m covering. That said, I won’t hesitate to tell everyone, well, those that are keeping up or looking back, about any amazing places that I feel need to be mentioned. Or if they’ve featured in my feature.
So, yes, I shall be attempting to keep this August trip south of the Seine as much as possible – Île Saint-Louis, the right-hand island in the Seine being one of the exceptions. Although, being neither north nor south doesn’t really count, I guess. It’s strange but every time I came to crossing the river, I would end up going through Île de la Cite thinking I would avoid the tourist trap of Notre-Dame. How wrong was I? With all the bridges crossing the Seine, you’d think that a scholar would know better, but sometimes, when you walk, you walk.
I’m now sat on the Eurostar (the time is 18:18). I’m heading in a south-eastern direction just outside Roye, about half an hour away from the platform at Gare du Nord. Upon arrival, I think I shall attempt a little walk to the nearest MonoP’ to pick up some munchies before heading back to the gare and hitting the Metro. Whilst this has been a productive journey, my travels are still only beginning for this (originally planned as a mini) trip.
On Wednesday, I shall be connecting with my scholastical peer and seeing Paris through a whole new light. And whilst this remains an exciting and integral part of my extended stay, I still have Monday and Tuesday to get my things done. One of which is to find a nice Parisian writing bag. I am after something that is small enough to hold my brown leather A5 notebook cover with pen holster, a powerbank and cables plus a pair of sunglasses. And maybe a little bottle of water. And some biscuits. At present, the bag I upgraded to for this August trip holds my Freewrite Traveler, my brown A5 notebook cover with pen holster, 2 powerbanks and cables, sunglasses, A4 writing pad, My iPad Air, page markers, earphones, wireless earphones, hand sanitiser, mask filters, bandana, playing cards, Paris guide book and an international travel plug. Oh, and my front door keys.
I shall also be buying myself a chocolate eclair. But that isn’t tonight. That’ll be when I go to Les Halles and make a proper effort to enjoy Rue Montorgueil, rather than zooming through it, wantingly. And salivating.