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Posts from the ‘Paris’ Category

on the doors, doors, and porte-cochères

I got back on the runway and took all of it and some of the hedge and gave the front door the heavy shoulder. This was foolish. About the only part of a California house you can’t put your foot through is the front door. All it did was hurt my shoulder and make me mad.  ― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep.

Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.  ― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

L’année dernière, j’ai emménagé dans une maison en Normandie dans laquelle, pour la première fois de ma vie, j’ai un bureau avec une porte fermée, une pièce à moi.  –Agnès Desarthe, La Chance de Leur Vie.

In 1967 I saw the Doors before they released their first album, The Doors.  They performed at a dance at the Masonic Temple in Portland.  I assumed it was a dance, because the hall had no chairs.  Few were dancing though.  Like spectators watching a theatrical production, we were more captivated by Jim Morrison’s singing and prancing on the stage.

I understand it was Morrison who suggested the name for the band.  He was inspired by Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception which was in turn a reference to a William Blake quotation, ”If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

A significant change to the architectural design of Paris buildings and homes occurred in the 1600’s during the reign of Louis XIV.

In the Seven Ages of ParisAlistair Horne writes, “Strict rules were laid down: private dwellings had to be built of stone, instead of the fire-prone timber frames and lath and plaster of earlier ages . . . . More ornate interiors were counterpointed by sober simplicity in exterior design. External modesty was also a feature of the grand hôtels particuliers of the epoch (and indeed of later ones), where extensive private gardens and displays of conspicuous consumption within lay concealed from public gaze behind a sombre porte-cochère [carriage entrance] which gave on to the street.”

But wait, there’s more!

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. But wait, there’s more!

looking for hemingway, the lost generation, in the cafés–part 2

In 1971 I traveled to Paris for the first time.  I mentioned finding a Balzac-like pension where I could stay for a couple of months that was around the corner from a former Hemingway apartment on rue Notre Dames des Champs and within easy walking distance from rue de Fleurus, the apartment of Gertrude Stein and Alicxe B. Toklas.

In 2002 I revisited the pension, and Marie, daughter of the owner and now la propriétaire, found a scrapbook of photographs her mother had kept of previous tenants.  She flipped the pages back to the early 1970’s and found the page where I could be.  And there I was.  « C’est moi ! »  I remember looking and wondering, “Who is that guy?”  It was me yet a stranger, too, not me, someone else.  I looked at the picture and tried to remember what I was like then and and how I spent my days in Paris, where I went and what I ate.

The taxi stopped in front of the Rotonde. No matter what café in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde. Ten years from now it will probably be the Dome. It was near enough, anyway. I walked past the sad tables of the Rotonde to the Select.  —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

In college I took several philosophy courses.  In one course I remember reading and talking about “identity” and the language we use when naming something.  For example, a river flows and thus is always changing.  If I step into it and step back and then step into the river again, is it the same river?
But wait, there’s more!

being quiet, but not blind on butte aux cailles

Eiffel Tower ✔︎  Louvre ✔︎  Buttes aux Cailles  Notre-Dame ✔︎  Musée d’Orsay ✔︎  Butte aux Cailles  Jardin du Luxembourg ✔︎  Butte aux Cailles.

The Butte aux Cailles will not be on most tourists’ check lists.  I would be surprised if a Frommer’s Travel Guide or a Rick Steves Paris assigned it any stars as a “must see sight.”  One will visit Paris several times before thinking of the small hill off the Place d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement.

I like the neighborhood because I am sometimes looking for peaceful streets in a large, busy city; I want to eat a good, reliable meal; and I am always surprised by the wall art I find there.

Arriving at the Place d’Italie, a large bustling space, cars and busses are seen racing along the streets and through the intersection.  It is a major metro stop so many people are coming and going on the streets as well.

But walking up rue Babillot from the Place to the intersection with rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles and veering onto the street, one finds a quiet village atmosphere where the buildings are often only two and three stories high.  This street and rue des Cinq Diamants slice up the Butte from which many smaller streets branch out.

As I mentioned I like looking for the wall art.

Finding something to admire on the Butte is easy.  The temptation is to stay on the two main streets, which I mentioned earlier, but do wander onto some of the smaller, very quiet side streets and you will be pleasantly surprised.

During my most recent visit, this piece was my favorite.  The  artist is clever.  I stood for the photograph so that center of the work would be covered by the lamp post, but the artist had painted a lamp post on the wall.  He or she placed the street lamp in the painting and had most likely anticipated photographs being taken.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

In addition the left side is upside down next to the right side.  Even the bird and the artist’s signature in the corner was painted upside down.
But wait, there’s more!