looking for hemingway & his apartments, a triangle, part 3
Imagine a triangle overlaying the center of Paris on the right bank, and the Jardin du Luxembourg is in the center. The north tip points more or less at Saint-Sulpice or maybe further to Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The west point is somewhere near La Closerie des Lilas, and the eastern point is in the Mouffetard area. It is an awkward triangle, maybe not an equilateral triangle, but it does the three points.
Inside the triangle was the world of Hemingway when he lived in Paris in the 1920’s. Except for an apartment on rue Froidevaux, where he stayed briefly, he rented apartments near the Jardin du Luxembourg and he spent a good deal of time walking there and through it to the cafés in the Montparnasse area.
His apartments, his favorite cafés, Gertrude Stein, the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the Jardin du Luxembourg where he loved to walk, the restaurants where he liked to eat, all can be found within the triangle, more or less, fudging a bit, serving my ends for the moment.
In 1921 Ernest Hemingway and Hadley, his first wife, arrived in Paris and moved into an apartment on rue du Cardinal Lemoine. He rented a small room around the corner on rue Descartes for the purpose of a writing studio. Hadley became pregnant and the two left Paris in August, 1923 for Toronto where she gave birth. One can find some comments on this part of his life in “looking for hemingway’s paris and the génération perdue, part 1.”
The couple and their son returned to Paris in February, 1924 and moved into an apartment at 113, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. It was down the street from La Closerie des Lilas where he wrote much of The Sun Also Rises. Ezra Pound lived nearby at 70 bis, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. He helped edit Hemingway’s writing and in turn Hemingway gave him boxing lessons.
During his time on rue Cardinal Lemoine, Hemingway would walk around the corner to a small room on rue Descartes that he rented as a studio for writing. At the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs location he used La Closerie des Lilas for that purpose. From where he sat sometimes, he could look onto the boulevard and see there the statue of Marechal Ney.
The Closerie des Lilas was the nearest good café when we lived down the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs in the top floor of the pavilion in the courtyard with the sawmill, and it was one of the nicest cafés in Paris. —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
Lavigne’s was closed tight, and they were stacking the tables outside the Closerie des Lilas. I passed Ney’s Statue standing among the new-leaved chestnut-trees in the arc-light. There was a faded purple wreath leaning against the base. I stopped and read the inscription: from the Bonapartist Groups, some date; I forget. He looked very fine, Marshal Ney in his top-boots, gesturing with his sword among the green new horse-chestnut leaves. —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.
In 1925 Hemingway started an affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, a writer for Vogue. Hadley and he were divorced in January 1927, and he married Pfeiffer in May.
Hemingway and Pauline lived in two apartments in Paris; the first was in the 14th arrondissement at 69, rue Froidevaux across from the Montparnasse Cemetery. The building still exists and is inset from the street and behind a metal gate, but is surrounded by a newer apartment building that encloses it.
Later they moved to 6 rue Férou, near to the Place Saint-Sulpice and the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was in the rue Férou apartment where he was writing his third novel A Farewell to Arms which appeared in 1929. The rue Férou apartment would be his last in Paris. They left Paris in March 1928 and moved to Key West.
Walking north on rue Férou from rue de Vaugirard and the Jardin du Luxembourg and half way to Place Saint-Sulpice, one will find Hemingway and Pauline’s apartment. It was more elegant and better situated than his first apartment on rue Cardinal Lemoine.
I imagine that the priest, most likely from Saint-Sulpice, the church where Pauline attended services near her Paris apartment, took his role as instructor very seriously. —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
Rue Férou is a narrow street and one that locals would use, even today. It is tunnel-like and connects two worlds: the Jardin du Luxembourg with the Place Saint-Sulpice and L’église Saint-Sulpice, the second largest church in Paris.
Today, unlike the 1920’s, the plaza has a café, Café de la Mairie. It was featured in a film, La Discrète by Christian Vincent. Georges Perec sat à la terrace and for two days in October in 1974 he wrote what he saw which he later published as Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien.
After you came out of the Luxembourg you could walk down the narrow rue Férou to the Place St.-Sulpice and there were still no restaurants, only the quiet square with its benches and trees. There was a fountain with lions, and pigeons walked on the pavement and perched on the statues of the bishops. There was the church and there were shops selling religious objects and vestments on the north side of the square. —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
It was March 8, 1922 when Hemingway visited Gertrude Stein at 27 rue de Fleurus for the first time. He had a letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson. Like the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, he spent a lot of time with Stein. Despite the hospitality she showed him, his portrait in A Moveable Feast of her, and of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is considered cruel and humiliating.
The plaque on the wall to the right of the entrance says, “Gertrude Stein 1874-1946 écrivain américain Vécut ici avec frère Léo Stein puis avec Alice B. Toklas elle y reçut de nombreux artistes et écrivains de 1903 à 1938.”
The home at 27 rue de Fleurus consisted then as it does now of a tiny pavilion of two stories with four small rooms, a kitchen and bath, and a very large atelier adjoining. Now the atelier is attached to the pavilion by a tiny hall passage added in 1914 but at that time the atelier had its own entrance, one rang the bell of the pavilion or knocked at the door of the atelier, and a great many people did both, but more knocked at the atelier. —Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
The first thing that happened when we were back in Paris was Hemingway with a letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson. . . . I remember very well the impression I had of Hemingway that first afternoon. He was an extraordinarily good-looking young man, twenty-three years old. . . . So Hemingway was twenty-three, rather foreign looking, with passionately interested, rather than interesting eyes. He sat in front of Gertrude Stein and listened and looked. . . . He and Gertrude Stein used to walk together and talk together a great deal. —Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
When I arrived for the first time in the early 1970’s, fifty years after Hemingway’s first visit, I found a room across from the Jardin du Luxembourg. It had a window that looked onto the park and one of the gated entrances. Hemingway used that entrance when he walked from his apartment in the Mouffetard area to Stein’s apartment on rue Fleurus. It is one of the exits he used to make his way to the many cafés–La Rotonde, Le Select, Le Dome, the Dingo Bar–where he drank and ate and met his friends. When he moved to rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, he entered the park there and possibly walked through the Jardin on his way to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.
As I wander the streets of Paris, I do not pause and remind myself that Hemingway was once here, but I do know and will not forget. That knowledge does make the wandering richer.
When you were skipping meals at a time when you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to do it was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the Place de l’Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were heightened and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
In the morning I walked down the Boulevard to the Rue Soufflot for coffee and brioche. It was a fine morning. The horse-chestnut trees in the Luxembourg gardens were in bloom. There was the pleasant early-morning feeling of a hot day. I read the papers with the coffee and then smoked a cigarette. —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.