Tag Archives: Shakespeare & Company

Ernest Hemingway’s Life In Paris

So as y’all know by now, clearly, Paris is one of my favorite European cities. Here’s the thing. It is a beautiful city with a lot of wonderful historic sites and adventures to be conquered. But even better is the history of this city. And even better than that, is how much American history is intricately entangled with French history, particularly in the capital of France.

Paris has had a hand in American artists of every genre honing their crafts for centuries. In fact, Paris was once a haven for practicing young doctors, painters, writers and sculptors in the 19th and 20th centuries. Think impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, or physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, or dancer and entertainer Josephine Baker or writer James Fennimore Cooper, or painter turned telegraph inventor Samuel F. Morse. This list goes on and on for miles! (Recommended Read: Americans In Paris: The Greater Journey, by David McCullough) Writers were no exception to this rule. Paris was a hot bed of creativity and ambition in those years. And once it was part of your DNA, then it became, as Ernest Hemingway put it, A Moveable Feast.

So in the same spirit as my recent post on Van Gogh’s Life in France, now I wold love to present to you Hemingway’s Life in Paris. Whenever I get the chance to combine my passion for literature with my passion for travel, it is a beautiful thing. Indeed, if you are a voracious fan of books, then you will be equally fascinated by 20th century Paris, between the two great wars, when notorious young men and women were evolving into the literary giants we know them as today. These included the likes of Ernest Walsh, Wyndham Lewis, T.S. Elliott, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Mina Loy, Evan Shipman, Ralph Cheever Downing, Scott Fitzgerald, Donald Stewart, Don Passoss, and of course Ernest Hemingway, just to name a few! This article is only going to highlight one of those writers: Ernest Hemingway. But no account of Hemingway’s time in Paris can be told without telling the story of book store owner and publisher Sylvia Beach. Today’s tale begins there.

Sylvia Beach

Any discussion about American Expat writers in Paris in the early 20th century cannot be told in truth without including the influence of Sylvia Beach. Her contribution to that era was epic. In 1919, Sylvia opened a small book shop at 8 rue Dupuytren called Shakespeare and Company.

Sylvia was the daughter of a Presbyterian preacher. She was born in Baltimore. The family moved to Paris around 1902 when her dad became pastor of an American church there. They lived in Paris for about 4 years and returned to the states to Princeton NJ where he took over pastoring another church. But Sylvia’s heart was drawn back to Paris the last years of the first world war, to study contemporary literature. She became a permanent resident of Paris and seemed to find her calling in life.

Sylvia’s inventory of books finally outgrew the shop at Dupuytren and in May, 1921, she moved to 12 rue de l’Odéon. Her close friend and mentor Adrienne Monnier, owned a French book store at number 7 rue de l’Odéon. Both women had a deep appreciation of literature and welcomed all manner of writers and artists into their friendly fold. Sylvia’s shop served multiple purposes for sometimes starving artists, both French and American writers. It was for them a home away from home. Indeed, it was sometimes used by them for a postal address as well as a loan service. Beach would often loan them money just to tie them over. Book clubs and book discussions flourished in this place under the due diligence of Sylvia’s leadership and passion. Moreover, Sylvia published Ulysses by James Joyce when no other English speaking country would do so.

Today 12 rue de l’Odéon is a clothing boutique.
The plaque above 12 rue de l’Odéon says: “In 1922 in this house, Sylvia Beach published Ulysses by James Joyce.”

Whether we realize it or not, Sylvia is one of those people in our history for whom we are all indebted. She ushered in a new era of literature, the ripple effect of which we are all still seeing. The benefits of which we are all still reaping. She propped up and supported those writers and artists, so much so that their craft thrived, even in the most tumultuous of times. Her life’s work is something that links all of us to the past, the present and the future. Her life work? Books.

We should all be so courageous and eager to protect the right to write.

French author André Chamson said Beach “did more to link England, the United States, Ireland, and France than four great ambassadors combined.”

What an endorsement.

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote of Beach: “Sylvia had a lively, sharply sculptured face, brown eyes that were as alive as a small animal’s and as gay as a young girl’s . . . She was kind, cheerful and interested, and loved to make jokes and gossip. No one that I ever knew was nicer to me.”

In August of 1940, Paris was occupied by the Germans. It was the beginning of four devastating years of oppression and near hopelessness. In 1941 a Nazi officer entered Sylvia’s shop on Rue de l’Odéon and demanded a copy of Finnegans Wake, which apparently Sylvia refused to supply. When he left, Sylvia removed the book from its prominent place in the window. The Nazi officer returned to her store sometime later and made the same request. Again Sylvia refused. He told her he would return in the afternoon to confiscate all of her inventory and then shut her store down. Immediately in a mere two hours, Sylvia packed everything up, more than two decades worth of passion and work, all of it; she stole it away to a vacant upstairs apartment. Sadly at that very moment, she forever shuttered the doors of one of the most epic book shop and publishing companies ever to exist.

Sylvia was arrested sometime after that and held at the Garden d’Acclimation at the Bois de Boulogne before being sent to an internment camp in Vittel France. She was transported there in September, 1942 and released in March, 1943. But tragically her bookstore never reopened. In 1951 American George Whitman opened a bookstore named Le Mistral. But in 1964, he renamed it Shakespeare and Company in honor of Beach. Today it is located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie on the Left Bank of Paris just across from Notre Dame and on the edge of the Latin Quarter. The color scheme and facade of the store looks the same as Sylvia’s rue de l’odéon store back in the 1920’s. Whitman died in 2011. His only child, Sylvia, so named for Sylvia Beach, became the store’s new owner.

Don’t miss a stop at this enrapturing bookstore when you’re in Paris. Make sure you have a couple of hours when you do..

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born in Cicero (now Oak Park) Illinois, a suburb of Chicago in 1899. He was a journalist by trade and in WWI served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. He married Hadley Richardson, his first wife, on September 3, 1921. Two months later, Hemingway was hired as foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star, and the couple left for Paris.  When trying to piece together a profile of Ernest Hemingway that shows his truest character, I have found for me, the best way to do so has been to read a combination of books and articles. For instance, there are several books that are all set during the same window of time in Paris. (1921-1925) These include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • A Moveable Feast, a memoir by Hemingway about his life in Paris in the 1920’s, was published in 1964 posthumously 3 years after his death by his 4th wife Mary Hemingway.
  • The Sun Also Rises, his first novel published in 1926. (He published a book of stories in 1925 entitled: In our Time). Additionally, he was married to his first wife Hadley Richardson for the duration of the time he wrote and published this book. Soon after it was published, he began an affair with his second wife, and Hadley asked for a divorce.
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McClain. I know! Why include a fictional book on this list? Well, McClain’s book is set from 1920-1926 when The Sun was published. After reading A Moveable Feast, she wanted to write a book through the lenses of Hadley, Ernest’s first wife. Based on what we know about their humble beginnings and the end of their marriage, I think she does a great job depicting the way the marriage spiraled due to Ernest’s volatile relationships and his inability to see Hadley on equal ground with him, socially and professionally, once he published The Sun and became famous. The intimate facts of the relationship are embellished as McClain attempts to express Hadley’s emotions on the pages of that book. But the circumstances of their life together are depicted very factually. One can only assume the rest.
  • Everyone body Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume.
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1925 just barely ahead of The Sun.
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler. Again like The Paris Wife, historically accurate, embellished conversations.
  • Ernest Hemingway, A Biography by Mary D. Dearborn (on my to read list)
  • The Letters of Sylvia Beach, Columbia Press
  • Shakespeare and Company, By Sylvia Beach- talk about getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. I love love love this book!
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties, by Noël Riley Fitch;

What these books tell us about Ernest Hemingway and his fellow expatriates in Paris:

“The Moveable Feast” is written by Hemingway set in the Paris years with Hadley and his side kick Fitzgerald. In that book, he depicts both his wife and Zelda through the lenses of his own narcissism. Hemingway’s end to his life was suicide. Fitzgerald’s was heart attack brought on by a lifetime of alcohol abuse. The two of them were the worst of friends. Their relationships was characterized by unhealthy professional competition and excessive drinking to a point that was staggering by all accounts.

“The Paris Wife” is about Hemingway and his first wife Hadley’s relationship in the Paris years. It is Hadley’s story.
What you will also find if you read accordingly and do your own research, is that his wife Hadley stuck with him, supporting him both emotionally and financially while he worked toward publishing this novel. She was a solid rock in his life. Literally, he could not have done it without her help. But he cheated on her perpetually and this finally drove them to divorce, forcing her hand, when he and his lover Pauline Pfeiffer aggressively pursued each other. Furthermore, Hemingway, thinking that Hadley was not good enough for his new found stardom, left her and his son and married Pauline. Pfeiffer was from a wealthy family and herself a popular writer for Vogue. Indeed when Hadley confronted him about the affair, he was angry at her for not leaving it alone, as if his menage à trois arrangement should not have bothered her at all.

Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald: This book reveals a sad portrayal of the toxic relationship of two human beings, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. That’s an important element of Hemingway’s time in Paris. This was after all, his “go to” couple. Together, Scott and Zelda were an unstoppable train for disaster. Two brilliant minds completely narcissistic and undisciplined, brilliant but not a brilliance nurtured with character. You will feel sorry for Zelda, beginning with her growing up when she was taught by her parents that her worth is only in the domestic sense. She is to marry a local boy who has a fulfilling job himself but she is only to support him in every way. That is her wifely duty. Ironically her dad hated Scott Fitzgerald and for good reason. But he really never raised her with other options. And she was just obstinate enough and a free spirit to follow this loser for the rest of her life. They had one daughter together who lived most of her young life with a nanny. Both Scott and Zelda’s life ended tragically. Scott died an alcohol abuse related death. He literally killed himself drinking. Zelda died in a fire in the Psych ward of a hospital in her home state where she would go often for lengths of time to convalesce after Scott’s death.

Everyone Behaves Badly and The Sun Also Rises: Like the other books listed here, Everybody Behaves Badly, chronicles the life of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway in the early 1920s in Paris along with this larger group of other artist expats who also lived there. But Everyone Behaves Badly tells the true story of The Sun. To me, The Sun, was a boring book about a bunch of people who were bent on self destruction. But I can assure you at the time of its publication, this book was one of the first books ever to depict desperation and debauchery as entertainment. It and others like it, such as Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby, blazed the trail for edgy, sexy and scandalous. This book blew away the puritanical style of literature that had dominated up until then.

The main characters in The Sun were actually based on true life characters, “friends” of Hemingway’s whose lives he very nearly destroyed, and arguably did just that with at least two of them. Their reputations were set in stone forevermore since Hemingway had written about their lives in gross detail in the book, changing only their names. This plagued them for the rest of their lives.

Hemingway was a ruthless, brutally competitive writer. He may have single handedly destroyed Robert Sherwood’s career even though Sherwood was the one who made the critical introductions for Hemingway to all of the Paris elite upon his arrival there. As it was he could have never paid Sherwood back for how he championed the beginning of his career. But rather than be thankful, he wrote a parody about Sherwood, going straight for the jugular. That was the beginning of the end for Sherwood. And there were others who mentored him when he was a nobody, like Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. With a lot of fan-fair, and in the public eye, Hemingway cut his ties with them after The Sun was released.

The Letters of Sylvia Beach Like her autobiography, Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia’s letters are written in her own hand. But unlike her autobiography, these letters are personal and were intended for the recipient. So they are raw and transparent, much more so than her autobiography. Her autobiography is good, but her letters fill in more holes. I wish there had been more letters pertaining to her mother’s death which was by suicide. But alas, as this topic was difficult for any of the Beaches to talk about at the time, it was clearly just as difficult to write about it. Sylvia’s letters offer personal insight into her tumultuous relationship with James Joyce that you simply will not get in her autobiography. Because being the consummate, gentle spirited, and generous woman, and publisher and business woman that she was, and unlike her contemporary Hemingway, she was clearly not one to throw anyone of those she admired and loved under the bus publicly, even if they may have deserved it.

Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties; Noël Riley Fitch does a fabulous job of introducing his readers to one of the most fascinating American women in American and French history. And that is certainly no small task. Again, like Beach’s letters, Fitch discloses rich details from his own research about Sylvia that Sylvia never willingly disclosed herself. And this teaches us so much about who she was and what she was made of. Fitch is relentless in the truth about the characters who hung out at both Sylvia’s bookshop and her partner’s, Adrienne Monnier’s, bookshop , La Maison des Amis les Livres, directly across the street at 7 rue de l’Odéon. Fitch does a great service to literature and writers from this era forward, as he uses his own talent to tell us the untold story about incredible individuals like Beach and Hemingway as they honed their craft in a foreign land, but yet forged a difficult and arduous path for all of us to meander along today!

Hemingway’s Haunts

74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris France, Ernest and Hadley’s first apartment January 1922- August 1923, is now a travel agency. Their only son was born here.

Here is a passage from Bernice Kert’s book, The Hemingway Women, about Ernest and Hadley’s start in Paris at this humble address:

“Ernest wanted to spend their little store of money for travel and recreation, not fancy digs.  Hadley was as enthusiastic as he was about exploring other parts of Europe. Finally Lewis directed them to a fourth-floor walk up at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, in an archaic, working-class district of the Fifth Arrondissement, far from the good cafes and restaurants. Hadley agreed with Ernest that they should take it. Paris was still wet when they moved in on January 9, 1922 . . . “

From Bernice Kert’s book, The Hemingway Women:

At the top of the street in the old cobblestone square known as Place de la Contrescarpe were the bistros, some of them smelly and awful. Bundles of rags blocked the doorways, then the rags moved, reveling themselves as wine-soaked men and women. The green autobus careened around the corner. Flower vendors dyed their flowers, the purple dye running into the gutters. On the market street. . . housewives shouted and shoved and fought for cheap goods. Tired beggars bleated for alms… Hadley never developed a love affair with Place de la Contrescarpe to the degree that Ernest did. But she learned to move about it with ease, no longer frightened by the squalor. . . Ernest’s vitality was contagious.”

La Rotunde and Cafe Le Dôme. Hangouts for this group of scoundrels included these two notorious bar cafes in Montparnasse directly across the street from one another. They were perpetual rivalries then and perhaps even now. Hemingway, and other American and English writers at that time donned La Rotunde, “The Bastard.” Legend has it the two cafes were such rivals, that when someone in the bathroom of the Dôme was found attempting suicide, the Dôme employee forthwith told him to go to the Rotunde and do it there!

La Closerie Des Lilas at 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, was a common working spot for Hemingway. I am sitting in “Hemingway’s seat” which has been memorialized with a small plaque bearing his name.
La Closerie Des Lilas

Hemingway may have been a brilliant writer of his time and is truly a literary king today, but he was in truth always wrestling with personal demons. He and his expatriate “friends” were held totally captive to the all consuming tyranny of ruthless competition and extreme alcohol abuse. They literally were drunk the majority of their waking hours. And if they weren’t drunk, they were cheating on one another. 

He referenced in the book, The Sun Also Rises, that he is part of the “Lost Generation.” He was speaking about himself and others like him, men and women post WWI who were lost spiritually and emotionally, shiftless with little direction. Clearly this would not have represented all of that generation, but in Hemingway’s circle, that is really all that he saw. He looked at life through the skewed lenses of the “crowd” he ran with while in Paris. And in the end, that was problematic for him.

Gertrude Stein actually coined the phrase “The Lost Generation,” and she never intended it to be complimentary. However, once Hemingway included it in his book, then everyone in that generation saw him as their hero.

Interestingly, this term the “Lost Generation” is responsible for begetting future references to the different generations, i.e baby boomers, generation X, Millennials and so forth. It is likely that the “Lost Generation” that Hemingway loved to exploit in his writing were all suffering from PTSD after such a bloody and horrific war as WWI. And PTSD clearly wasn’t officially recognized then. But Hemingway, I feel, did less to help and heal that generation, than he did perpetuating their trauma, given his own inability to navigate the detrimental path he was walking down himself. 

So why was this man so bent on destroying those around him and seemed hell bent on self destruction? Well, he was a severely depressed person. Sadly he killed himself in 1961. He had cheated on Hadley with his 2nd wife Pauline. He cheated on Pauline with his 3rd wife Martha. Martha cheated on him, and he then married his 4th wife Mary. He was married to Mary when he died. A little more research revealed that he his dad, one brother and one sister and one granddaughter have all committed suicide. The tragedy of mental illness is that it rears its ugly head over and over again.

Hemingway would go on to write a number of master works in the years following those first 5 tumultuous ones in Paris. During WWII, he somewhat reverted to his original trade of journalism and traveled with the allies writing pieces , more or less for Colliers magazine with whom he had a very rocky relationship. He was off shore in a naval ship at the time of the Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944. A few months later, it seems only natural he was in his beloved Paris France on August 21, 1944 with American and French soldiers the day it was liberated. He symbolically liberated the Ritz where German command and French collaborators had been partying it up for 4 years.

I wish Hemingway could have overcame the demons that lived inside him. I would say the same for the majority of these characters in this article, Paris expats of the early 20th century, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. So much genius gone as quickly as it appeared, lost in the blackness and downward spiral of dysfunction, alcoholism, and hopelessness. 

However, on another more happy note, today we get to enjoy the great rewards of such genius. I plan to reread A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bell Tolls. Like me, you can read the personal letters of Sylvia Beach and find out what was in her heart after her shop was forced to shutter in 1941. We also get to travel to Paris; and in between climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomph, strolling the Seine at night, and fine dining in lovely bistros, we can revisit all of these haunting places where Sylvia, Hemingway, Hadley, and their woebegone but intriguing contemporaries lived, worked and loved. We can travel our way through that Paris portal and find a walloping wonderful archive of hangouts that are beckoning us to come and feast, just as they did.

Click below for another helpful link to plan your visit to this iconic city.

One Week in Paris

My most recent trip to Paris was in February of this year 2020. Yeap I returned to the states on the 24th, and just under the Corona radar as it turns out. The cool thing about this trip to Paris was I played like a first time tourist. I did this because it so happens I was visiting with first time tourists to this beautiful city. My sister, Cindy, her husband Danny and my lovely niece Racheal. My daughter Shelby also joined us. She is currently living in Paris as an au pair. It was a blast for Shelby and I to take our family to all the “usual” places and have the opportunity to view those breathtaking sites through their fresh and expectant lenses.

So I thought it would be fun to recreate their itinerary for you. And hey, what perfect timing. Because most of us in this world are mandated shelter in place right now due to COVID-19. Yes indeed, what a perfect time for us to dream and plan our next vacation. We CAN do that.. Alors, Voila! My contribution to your Paris dream as you plan a first visit. Or, maybe you are like me and have longed to be your loved one’s personal guide to this iconic city. In either case, I hope this is helpful. Before you go, download the citymapper app. It is an excellent app for deciding the best transportation route around the city. Please note, our “Day 1 to Day 7” was a Sunday to Saturday. Yours might be different, so please check online to make sure of opening days and times for all of the places you buy tickets. Now let’s get started.


**You always arrive in Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport (or anywhere in Europe) a day after you leave the states. And that’s where we are starting at the airport. Sure you can take the inexpensive RER train to your BNB or to your hotel. (Just go to terminal 3 at CDG to catch the RER train to Paris.) But I wouldn’t recommend this with luggage. It’s just too plain hard, and you look like a target of opportunity to a thief.. It is worth the money to pay for a cab or an Uber. I have the Uber app in my phone so it is an easy click, and then Poof! I am in an Uber headed to paradise. In terminal 1, you meet your Uber on departures level outside. So, be sure to check your Uber app for the correct place to call depending on your terminal of arrival. If I am flying to a new place, I actually like to check online before leaving home in order to make sure I know where to go to call the Uber upon arrival.

**Use the airport ATM to get cash, that is to say, euros. I like using cash when I travel abroad because it is a ton easier having two or three cash withdrawals import into my budget than it is 25 to 50 separate transactions from various places who now have my credit card number to boot. If you’re like me, you have a vacation budget or spending limit. Well, I get cash, according to my budget, and categorize it as “vacation” or else split it, for instance, between “vacation” and “dining out.” My hotel or BNB is prepaid at this point. And I ordered all of my tourist tickets online and paid for them prior to traveling. They were either printed or stored in my phone for mobile retrieval. (Don’t worry there’s help for that here in this blog) So that pretty much leaves food. It’s nice later when I’m not sorting through 50 different transactions saying, “Did I really spend that money at that place?” Caution: Cash is easily pickpocketed like your cell phone. So protect it!

**It’s likely you will arrive anywhere between 7 am and 11:00 am depending on your airline carrier. Once you arrive to your hotel room, feel free to freshen up. And if you must, take a short nap (no longer than 2 hours), then eat the lunch that you grabbed from the local grocery story (if not the airport prior to leaving). Excellent local grocers include Carrefour, Monoprix, or Lidl. Then, after your shower, short nap, and lunch, you’re ready to go. Check your citymapper app for your best routes for getting to your first site.

**Arc de Triomph. You can buy your tickets ahead of time here: http://www.paris-arc-de-triomphe.fr/en/ I printed them. Your ticket should be good for one visit for one year from the date of purchase.The arc anchors the Champs-Élysées on one end, and the Place de Concorde on the other end. The arc offers an excellent view of that famed avenue Champs-Élysées from the terrace. Napoleon 1 ordered the construction of the arc in 1806. It memorializes names of battles and generals from the Revolution and the First Empire. Every evening, the flame is lit on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Great War. Interestingly, during the German occupation of WWII from 1940-1944, machine guns were placed at all 12 avenues converging at Place de E’toile surrounding the Arc de Triomphe. Additionally, four cannons were placed at each of the main 4 arteries: Avenues Foch, Victor Hugo, Champs-Élysées, and Marceau. Learn more about Occupied Paris 1940-1944 by clicking below:

**From the Arc, make your way to the Pantheon located in the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement. Buy your tickets here: http://www.paris-pantheon.fr/en/ Also good for one visit for one year from the date of purchase. Besides the immaculate and stunning architecture of this building, the two main highlights of the Pantheon are the crypt and the Foucault Pendulum. The crypt inters larger than life personalities such as Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Jean Moulin and Voltaire, and many others who were instrumental in shaping French culture, literature and academia, and heralding their freedom, as in the case of Jean Moulin.

**It’s been a long day, so call it good and take a short stroll through the Latin Quarter on your way to the metro stop. Enjoy dinner on an inviting terrace of a Parisienne cafe. Then return to your cozy place of lodging for the night. Set out your tickets for the next day’s adventure, check citymapper app for your morning destination, and get a good night’s sleep.


**Louvre. It opens at 0900. Be there when it opens. You can thank me later. You can get your tickets here: https://www.ticketlouvre.fr/louvre/b2c/index.cfm/home Our tickets, which I printed out, were day specific. Note it is closed on Tuesdays. We went on Monday. The Louvre was a royal palace, the residence of French kings dating from Francis 1 of 1546 until 1682 when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. Today it houses a vast collection of some of the greatest art and antiquities in the world. Okay the Louvre can be overwhelming, but if it’s your first time to Paris, then make sure you see these Louvre highlights. Certainly modify the list if you like, but if you are art-challenged and need guidance, this is very good.

Start in the Sully Wing on Level 1 where you will find the Pavillon de l’Horlage.You will be standing in the original medieval fortress. This underground area reveals the medieval fortress that was created for King Philippe Auguste in 1190. You will be thrilled to see the remnants of the medieval moat, and the dungeons, as well as the Salle Saint-Louis (built between 1230 and 1240), the only remaining vestige of the medieval fortress’ main building.

Before leaving the Sully Wing, you must see Great Sphinx of Tanis and The Venus de Milo located on level 0.

Venus de Milo

Next move on to the Denon Wing, and check off the lion share of your Louvre visit: The Winged Victory of Samothrace and just around the corner from Winged Victory, is the famed Mona Lisa. But don’t expect to be able to get up close and personal. She is roped off and the crowds around her are huge. Better to be there at opening. But also in this wing are two of my favorites: The Coronation of Napoleon and Liberty Leading the People, the latter by Eugene Delecroix. And prepare to be enthralled by the utter devastation of The Raft of the Medusa. And before leaving Denon Wing, get a long look at sculptures by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s, both The Dying Slave and The Rebellious Slave. Honestly, as I study these sculptures, the artist’s emotions are palpable.

You can go to the Richelieu Wing on level 1 at any point beginning or ending your visit to the Louvre to visit the Petite Galerie also known as the beautiful Glass-Covered Sculpture Courtyards.It’s breathtaking and full of light.

The Petite Galerie

Finally Napoleon’s Apartments are not to be missed. This part of the tour may be helpful to those of you who want something that you can sink your teeth into beyond the iconic art that adorns the walls of the Louvre. They are located on Level 1 of the Richelieu Wing. Room 87.

**This was a perfect day for lunch packing of sandwiches and chips and snacks put together before leaving our hotel and made from our local Carrefour grocery purchases. We left the Louvre and went out into the lovely Tuileries Garden, a public garden located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. Great for lunching and just for relaxing.

**After eating our packed lunch in the Tuileries, we walked over to Angelinas at 226 Rue de Rivoli for the famous Le chocolat chaud à l’ancienn. All you have to know is this: it is hot chocolate, delicious x one million. And it is okay to be seated for only drinks. If there is a line when you get there, fear not. I have never known the wait to be over 20 mins or so unless perhaps it’s prime time summer travel season.


**After Angelina’s, we wrapped up this segment at Place de la Concorde a square in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, which anchors the Tuileries Gardens opposite from the Louvre. It also bookends the Avenue Champs-Elysées opposite the Arc de Triomph. This gorgeous square is known for the Luxor Obelisk, a 3,300 year old Egyptian obelisk erected on the square in October 1836 surrounded by luxury hotels. The Obelisk sits on the spot where once the gruesome guillotine stood during the French Revolution.

**For the remainder of our afternoon, we chose to wander around the epic Marias district of Paris including St.Paul’s cathedral and St Gervais church. This is also known as the Jewish District of Paris.

**Before leaving St. Paul’s we arrived at Le Mémorial de la Shoah the Jewish Memorial and museum. This memorial is free to enter, but donations are accepted. This memorial museum chronicles every Jew who was deported from Paris during the war, but also honors those who aided the Jewish people during this devastating time in the history of France. The Wall of the Righteous bears the names of those who helped to rescue Jews in France during the war, not only from the Nazi occupiers but from French collaborators as well.We were able to squeeze this in later in the afternoon of our second day. I would suggest you afford a lot more time to visit this documentary center and its incredulous exhibit.


**Head over to The Île de la Cité, where Paris was first settled in 52 BC by a small Celtic tribe called Parisii. Here in the heart of the city, you can visit St. Chapelle and The Concierge in concert together. Buy your tickets here: https://booking.parisinfo.com/il4-offer_i536-conciergerie-sainte-chapelle.aspx Your ticket will be good for one visit to each place on the same day, also good for up to a year. St. Chapelle was the royal chapel for Kings of France for several centuries and was originally intended to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, which as legend has it, was acquired by Saint Louis. It is a breathtaking stained glass experience. Arranged across 15 windows, the glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris. Do this tour in concert with the Concierge next door which was once a revolutionary tribunal and prison where Marie-Antoinette was held prior to her beheading. When you exit the Concierge, before exiting to the street, this is your chance to walk inside the Palais de Justice which houses the law courts today. It is a striking building and worth the venture. For more details and photographs on Sainte-Chapelle click below:

La Conciergerie
 Palais de Justice

**Time for lunch. We packed again! This saves tons of money and allows us to enjoy the delightful Parisienne outdoors. Today we ate our packed lunches in my favorite square in all of Paris, the Place Dauphine. This is a public square located near the western end of the Île de la Cité in the first arrondissement of Paris. It is just a stone’s throw from St. Chapelle, Conciergerie, and Palais de Justice.

**After lunch, leave Place Dauphine via Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, and turn left and take your time walking along the Seine River, by way of the Quai des grands Augustins. It will turn into Quai St-Michele. Take this to Shakespeare and Company bookstore just past Rue de Petit Pont. Peruse this infamous bookstore for as long as you like, but no pictures are allowed inside.

Side note: The original Shakespeare and Company was owned and operated by American Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l’Odéon in the 1920s until the summer of 1940 when the Nazis occupied Paris. Sylvia was a literature icon and her bookstore was a welcome respite for the likes of Hemingway, Joyce, Ezra Pound, Fitzgerald and many others. She was truly a great literary influence and publisher among literary expats in Paris in the early 20th century. She was also instrumental in making a global impact on literature that still resonates in the world today. The current Shakespeare and Company was started in the early 1950’s by American George Whitman and given its name in honor of Sylvia Beach and her contributions to literature.  For more interesting, in depth details about Hemingway’s sojourn in Paris, click below.
 Hemingway in Paris

As you leave the bookstore, don’t miss the great view you have here of Notre Dame under reconstruction. Then, make a right turn onto Rue St. Julien-le-Pauvre walking behind the bookstore to one of the most beautiful little spots in Paris. Visit the medieval church of St. Julien-le- Pauvre, and the lovely park next to it. Stop sit and relax for awhile. Then take a left and walk about halfway down the picturesque street of Rue Galande visiting Shelby’s favorite boulangerie (bakery) on the right, if you so desire, for a sweet roll. Then do a turnaround, going back down Rue Galande from which you came and continue across Rue Sainte Jacques and onto Rue St. Séverin into the Latin Quater. Rue St. Séverin is one of the oldest streets in Paris and No 22 is fun to find. It is the most narrow building in the city. It currently houses a 17th century hotel.

**Find another Parisienne cafe for dinner before heading over to see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory, completely lit up after dark.

**Eiffel Tower all lit up at night! Wait for dark and prepare to be dazzled.

**Okay now head back to your hotel, and get another good night’s sleep. You are going to need it. Also check citymapper for how long your commute will be to Versailles tomorrow. Whatever it says, add 30 minutes to 1 hour on top of that. If it says your commute is 1 hour. Then make like it is 1 hour and 45 minutes.


**Versailles. For starters wear comfortable walking shoes or you will be miserable today. Definitely buy your tickets online. Buy the “passport” for your regular entry ticket into the palace. We did not get the passport with timed entry. We purchased the regular passport ticket. BECAUSE we bought a guided tour (with a specific tour date and time) in conjunction with buying our passport ticket for the palace. And if you have children, under 18, they are free, but the guided tours are only free to children 10 and under. Buy your tickets here (both the Passport and the guided tour of your choice) and print them out.  http://en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices    I highly recommend you pay the 10 euro (extra) for a guided tour. The tours are small and can show you locations and rooms you don’t get to see in the palace otherwise. HERES THE DEAL. If you have a private guided tour, then you have a separate entrance from the throngs of other peasants. The private tours enter in the building to the right of main entrance A. So, if you’re standing facing the Palace/Entrance A, just make a 1/4 turn to the right and you are facing the north wing of the building, and you will see the stairs into that section of building which take you directly to your tour guide.You will be excited because there will likely be a very long line to enter the palace at entrance A. Once you finish with your tour, you continue inside the castle. No line. But of course the castle will be crowded. YOU MUST HAVE both your passport ticket and your guided tour ticket (they are two different tickets) in hand at the tour guide meeting spot. They will check both at that time. Our guided tour time was 9:30. We walked straight into the North Wing with that guided tour ticket and our regular palace passport ticket. The private guided tour lasted about an hour and boom we were dropped off in the main palace. Save your passport tickets. You will need them again later for Trianon and the Coach House.

**After the palace, we went out to the lovely gardens and ate our lunch which we packed from our grocery store purchases.

**Now that you are energized with lunch in your gullet, be sure to visit The Estate of Trianon, which includes Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon palaces, as well as the Queen’s Hamlet and a variety of ornamental gardens.There are golf carts on hand you can rent to cart yourself to this section of the estate, but they are ridiculously expensive. Find the tram stop. Or do as we did: walk to the Estate of Trianon and take the tram back to the palace when you’re finished. The tram is not free, but super cheap, and you can pay the guy cash when you get on board. NOTE: If I ever return to Versailles, I am going to spend an entire day at the Estate of Trianon. No palace. We wanted to see more of it beyond the PetiteTrianon and a few of the gardens. But we were already exhausted from our palace tour, and the amount of walking we had done to this point. I am just warning you not to get too wrapped around the axel about not being able to conquer all of the Estate of Trianon, on this your first visit to Versailles. Research about the Estate of Trianon before you go, and decide what is important to you. BUT the palace itself is a must do site to knock off of your Versailles check list. Trianon can wait if it must.

**Now that you are finished with the palace and Trianon, walk directly across the street in front of the palace and visit the Coach Gallery. You gain entrance with your regular palace passport ticket. Located in the Great Stables, the Coach Gallery exhibits an exceptional collection of carriages, sedan chairs and sledges.These vehicles are extremely ornamental and so fun to see up close and personal.They have been used in the past to serve royal, imperial and presidential power.

**Okay, when you are all done in Versailles, you can head back to Paris.Use Citymapper or treat yourself to an Uber. But if you do the latter, it will be pricey. Once in Paris, return to your hotel if you like and pack it in early. You deserve it. On the other hand, if you feel up to it, take in some other wonderful places like Les Invalides or The Cluny Museum. Or our personal favorite art museum in Paris, the Orsay. It is a ginormous mecca of impressionism art in the most beautiful building ever (old train station!) At any rate, once you’re back to your cozy home away from home, you can cook your dinner (BNB) or pick up dinner and take it back to your hotel. We cooked dinner in our BNB on this particular evening. Set out tomorrow’s tickets for the Catacombs and check citymapper for your route.


**Montmartre: No tickets required here! Montmartre is full of ambience! Perched on the top of a small hill in the 18th arrondissement, it is a serious source of material for the arts, and inspiration for the cinema. It also was and still is the home of painters. Picasso loved this place. Montmartre gives abundant pleasure to those who stroll around it and figures high on the list of Paris must sees.

**We arrived at the base of the hill of Montmartre by way of the Abbesses Metro Stop. You can take the stairs, but in the interest of saving your legs and since this is day 5 of a 7 day trip with a LOT of walking, I would take the elevator up to the top. Abbesses is way. down. under. ground. So normally, yeah, we take the stairs to exit any metro in Paris. But at Abbesses you really want to think about that. It is the deepest Paris metro station at 118 feet.

**So okay once you exit Abbesses, make sure you go visit the “Love Wall.” It’s fun and a great place for a picture. Then sit for a coffee at a cafe directly across from the love wall and/or shop at a super cute souvenir store right next to it just before you start up the hill.

**We are ready to hike up to Montmartre. At the top meander around the famous Place du Tertre with all of its local artistry, then keep walking to Sacre Coeur Basilica. The Place du Tertre is a square in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. Only a few streets away from Montmartre’s Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, it is the heart of the city’s elevated Montmartre quarter. Note: We came up by way of Abbesses Metro but if you come up Rue Lepic, well that’s also a wonderful way to go. Along that route, you can see where Vincent van Gogh lived with his brother Theo in Paris. I love Rue Lepic and its history. For more (fascinating) information about Van Gogh click below:

Construction on the Montmartre Sacré-Cœur Basilica began in 1875 and ended in 1914. The organ is considered to be one of the greatest in all of Europe.You can go and decide for yourselves. Interestingly the basilica, a Roman Catholic church, is also a double monument. If you go inside you will find memorials representing national penance for two major events: The defeat of France in the 1870 Prussian War – (Yes the Germans occupied Paris from 1870-1871 as well as 1940-1044) – and also for the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 a year later. (Think Parisienne Civil War basically) Tumultuous times indeed.

**Lunch time. And we did not pack our lunches today because we are going down the hill (opposite of the side we came up) directly below the basilica to a captivating restaurant called L’Ete en Pente Douce. It’s entirely too cute to miss. The food is great and priced reasonably. So sit and take a load off. Moreover, the walk down from Montmartre to this restaurant is one of those off the beaten paths in Paris! Don’t miss it!

Alternate path to and from Montmartre next to the restaurant.

**The Abbey Bookshop and Saint Sulpice. After lunch, we moseyed on back to Paris’ centre. I am both a cathedral and book lover. Maybe it’s the history link they share. I don’t know; but I never tire of either.

The Abbey book shop 6th arrondissement .

**When I purchased our tickets for the catacombs here http://catacombes.paris.fr/en/visit I did so for a specific day and time. This is yet another excellent example of why you always buy your tickets ahead of time.We arrived at the Catacombs for our designated tour at 4:00 pm. There was an unblievable long line of people waiting to get in and buy tickers. We walked right pass that line and into the entrance with our time stamp on our tickets and were admitted immediately. I can’t tell you how good it feels to bypass long lines, which we pretty much did all week because we had purchased all of our tickets ahead of time.

Paris had a huge problem in the late 18th century. Their city was being over ran with the dead due to that fact the cemeteries were way overpopulated. This led to a major city wide health crisis. So they decided to do something about it. The new underground burial site was originally called the Paris Municipal Ossuary, but later changed to the “Catacombs.” The first cemetery evacuations were made from 1785 to 1787 and concerned the largest cemetery in Paris, the Saints-Innocents cemetery. Starting in 1809, the Catacombs were opened to the public by appointment. And today? You can take this somewhat ghoulish but absolutely fascinating tour yourself. Audio guides are provided in your language and do an excellent job of giving you all the facts as you make your way through the labyrinth of bones.

**For dinner tonight you have a 7:30 pm reservation at l’auberge Etchegorry. Let me just say that the food in Paris at the local cafes is very good. But I always make a reservation for at least one special restaurant that serves truly authentic French food on at least one night. This place will not disappoint in terms of ambience, service, and quality. And it will not break the bank. Make your reservation here: https://etchegorry.fr/fr


Eiffel Tower. It opens at 9:30. Your tickets are time and day specific. We made our reservations for 10:30 am. And we reserved our tickets here: https://ticket.toureiffel.paris/en#_ga=2.148962035.435615988.1585695867-1093338768.1585695867 Our tickets were kept on my mobile phone. Just make sure they are downloaded. When you purchase your ticket make sure you purchase it for the top most level. You can purchase slightly cheaper tickets for going up only to the 2nd floor, (but why would you do that??) Your ticket will be for “the top.” You will take a lift to the top. But you can opt to take the less crowded stairs back down. Don’t worry there is 0 danger of falling. The stairs are completely encased with a barrier. But the view is so different and well, it’s just dang fun. Personally, I think the stairs are way less intimidating than the lift. There are two entrances into the Eiffel Tower. Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Typically Entrance 2 is less crowded if you are in a hurry, but at either one, y0u will have to go through security to gain entrance to the tower. Also note this from the website: “Make sure you check the time on your e-ticket, this is the time when you need to be on the esplanade, in a queue for “Visitors with tickets” (green flag). So that you’re here on time, we recommend arriving 15 minutes in advance so that you have time to make it through the security checks at the entrance. For example, if your ticket is for 10am, plan to arrive at the Eiffel Tower entrance at 9.45am.”

The digging work started on the 28th January 1887. On the 31st March 1887. (wow as I type this, TOday (March 31) is this girl’s 131st birthday!) TheTower was finished in record time – 2 years, 2 months and 5 days – and was established as a veritable technical feat. It was a creation of Gustave Eiffel’s specifically for the 1889 world’s fair. It was planned to be only temporary. Well, as you can see, thank goodness that plan was thrown out the window, and we still have her today. P.S. The Parisiennes as a whole, mostly did not like this huge ugly metal giant in the middle of their fair and gorgeous old city. They thought she was an eye sore. They registered many complaints about it. Still, it has managed to sustain itself for 131 years, and we are all the better for it.


**We left the Tower and walked a short way, past the Merry-Go-Rounds down to the Seine where we sat and ate our packed lunch of local purchased, fresh baguettes or croissants (yummy) along with our sandwiches and chips from the grocery. We had tickets for an afternoon boat ride.You can research all the different boat companies in Paris and choose for yourself. We paid for a simple 1 hour cruise on Bateaux Parisiens and purchased our tickets here: https://www.bateauxparisiens.com/english.html So this is an itinerary for first timers to Paris. Thus, I would always recommend doing a boat cruise at some point, because the view of all these iconic sites from the water is just all together different than what you get close up. Both are fantastic. If you have the time to do so, try a canal/river combo cruise in one, with Canauxrama. You can buy your tickets for that here: https://www.canauxrama.com/en/ And you can read more about that the Canal Saint Martin tour here:

SIDE NOTE: In 1993, a monument was created to commemorate the round-up of 14,000 Jews in Paris (by the French Vichy Nazi collaborators) from 16-17 July 1942, and their detainment in the Vélodrome d’Hiver, an indoor cycle track at the corner of the boulevard de Grenelle and the rue Nélaton in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. They were deported from this inhumane holding place to various concentration camps around Germany. Men, Women and children. Very few of them survived. On the day you go to the Eiffel Tower, please just ahead of that, go by this memorial. Study up on what happened in July, 1942 to the Jews in Paris and be determined to come away from this visit with one additional new fact (you never knew before) about this devastating era of French history.

The plaque is facing the Bir-Hakeim metro station, boulevard de Grenelle (Paris 15th arrondissement), a few meters from where the Vel d’Hiv used to be.

**We had a relaxing walk the remainder of the afternoon around the city, grabbed dinner at a local French bistro and eventually made our way home to our BNB where we had a good night’s sleep and prepared for our last day in the city of lights. The Fat Tire Bike tour.


Fat Tire Bike Tours. Reserve your tickets here: https://www.fattiretours.com/paris I know I know I say this all the time. But Fat Tire Bikes is an absolute must for a first visit or a 5oth visit to this city. I have done bike tours with this company in Paris (night and day tours), Berlin, London and Barcelona.They are fantastic. So. much. fun. The English tours are always done with native English speakers. I love the people that I get to meet like our friend John from Milwaukee who lives in Barcelona. He is an American expat living in Barcelona with his wife and daughter. I always meet the most fascinating people on Fat Tire Bike tours from all different nations and backgrounds. This was my daughter Shelby and I’s 6th or 7th Fat Tire tour (I’ve lost count). But it was my niece Racheal’s first. She was nervous at the thought of biking thorough Paris. But I assured her: No problem! The guides are excellent and their instructions are impeccable. Just do it. It’s truly a thrill.

So there you are: 7 perfect days in Paris. And I’m not going to charge you a thing, except this. Please enjoy every minute of the dream, as you read this. And when you actually go, have all the fun you can muster. That is all the payment I require.

All Around Town