on eating lunch with anaïs nin and henry miller near rue daguerre
I had lunch with Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller at Brasserie Le Feyer, a restaurant in the 14th arrondissement. The restaurant is maybe a five to ten minute walk from my apartment on rue Daguerre. They sat in the corner to my left, and occasionally he would lean in and chuckle. She was reading something to him, from a manuscript, I presume, maybe some erotica from Little Birds or Delta of Venus.
There are several problems with that last paragraph, of course. For one, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller died in 1977 and 1980 respectively.
But I did eat lunch with them and at Le Zeyer.
Recently, I finished watching—binge watching, actually—the French series L’Art du crime, or in English, obviously, The Art of Crime. One of the main sleuths is not a policewoman, but instead she works for the Louvre as an art historian. She is paired with a lead detective who knows nothing about art, and together they solve murders that have a famous painter as a central motif. For example, one episode involved Courbet.
Florence Chassagne, the art historian, speaks to the painters, long since dead, who appear to her, often when she is examining their art. It is a quirky twist to the stories, but effective because we learn information about them and their art. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Florence knows they are not real. She has had these visions and conversations since she was a child. She has told others about them, including her psychiatrist, and her detective partner.
So, the other day, when the morning was wet, and I did not know where to go or what to do for lunch, I remembered that once upon a time Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller had lived close by and had frequently eaten meals at Le Zeyer. I decided to join them. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
So, I sat in my corner, ordered a three course meal—chevre salad, dauraude, and crème brûlée—and a one-half bottle of Muscadet, and around the same time Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller sat in another corner and ordered their meals and she, while waiting for their courses, read from a manuscript she pulled from a bag.
The ghosts of artists and writers and famous people still walk the streets of Paris. The street where I stay in Paris, rue Daguerre, is named after Louis Daguerre, “a French artist and photographer, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography.” (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Around the corner from may apartment is one of the largest cemeteries in Paris, Cimetière du Montparnasse, where many famous people are buried. Susan Sontag, the American writer, who died in 2004, is buried there.
The street rue Daguerre was home to Agnès Varda, the well-known and highly regarded film director, screenwriter, photographer, and artist. She too is buried in Montparnasse. Varda did a short documentary called Daguerréotypes in 1976 that features vignettes of life in rue Daguerre. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
When I leave my apartment and turn left from rue Daguerre, I pass an apartment at 69, rue Froidevaux across from the Montparnasse Cemetery, where Ernest Hemingway and his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer lived briefly before moving to an apartment near l’église Saint-Sulpice. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Continuing on my walk and a few steps away, I may pass an apartment where Simone de Beauvoir lived for much of her life until she died. She is buried next to her friend Jean-Paul Sartre in the Cimetière du Montparnasse. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
So . . . I did have lunch with Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller at Brasserie Le Feyer the other day. I wish only that I was closer and could have heard them.