Follow the footsteps of literary and artistic icons on an itinerary that traces Paris’ most storied streets. We’ll tell you the best places to experience literary and artistic history in Paris; from Hemingway to Picasso and beyond.
By Elizabeth Frels
Following World War I, some of America’s now-famous authors and artists migrated to Paris, France to escape expensive costs of living and Prohibition. Known as the Lost Generation, this group of creatives included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker. Their living was large, and their influence even larger.
Check in to the Fitzgeralds’ first Parisian abode, Hotel St-James & Albany, or opt for the flashier Hôtel Ritz Paris. This legendary hotel appears regularly in Fitzgeralds’ novels and is home to the Hemingway Bar, where Cole Porter is said to have composed “Begin the Beguine” and where Hemingway and Gary Cooper would meet for hours of conversation.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Set the tone with a chauffeured drive through Paris in a 1940s Vintage Citroën. Along the way, gain private entry into the select Travellers Club, where Hemingway drank champagne on the way to “free the Ritz” in 1944.
In the company of a dedicated art historian, explore the Montmarte Museum and the Bateau Lavoir, where you will find a portrait of Gertrude Stein painted by Picasso.
Next, follow Hemingway and Hadley to Shakespeare & Company, Sylvia Beach’s bookshop. When they first visited this institution in 1921, Beach was in the throes of correcting the last chapters of Ulysses with James Joyce.
Enjoy access to 27 rue de Fleurus, formerly the home of Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice Toklas. This beautiful apartment near the Luxembourg gardens was intimately detailed in A Moveable Feast and is still filled with works by Picasso, Matisse, and Cézanne. Conclude your ramblings with a stroll in the Luxembourg gardens, where Hemingway frequently sat searching for inspiration.
Eat and Drink
The pursuit of fine food and drink played an important role in the literary and artistic history in Paris. Order Hemingway’s favorite dry sherry at Deux Magots café, also frequented by Oscar Wilde. Spend time at Dingo Bar — now Relais de Venise — for a Long Island Iced Tea, first invented by Hemingway. Or head to Harry’s New York Bar that lays claim to inventing the Bloody Mary, and was a frequent meeting place for Stein, Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, and Fitzgerald.
Dine at Le Pré aux Clercs, a restaurant frequented by Ernest and Hadley Hemingway that still exists today. Or go to Hemingway’s daily spot, Closerie des Lilas, where he wrote The Sun Also Rises and first read the manuscript for Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. For an extra special occasion, venture to the rooftop restaurant of Theatre des Champs Elysées. This theater is famous for having welcomed American dancer Josephine Baker, whose fans such as Picasso, Kees van Dongen, Jean Cocteau, and Fernand Léger contributed to her worldwide renown.
Pro Tip: Grab a bottle of wine and watch the tango enthusiasts dance until twilight in the mini amphitheatres along the Seine in the 5th arrondissement. – Elizabeth Frels
Explore the literary and artistic history of Paris with Ker & Downey – contact us to begin customizing your journey. Click here to read more about the Bloomsbury Group in London, the Lost Generation’s predecessors.