Hemingway, Zola, Proust, Fitzgerald, Wilde: Paris is a city that has long inspired the greats to produce beautiful literary works. Whether seeking shelter or inspiration, Paris has long been a creative mecca, and the sights and stories that have set the scene for and coloured some of the great literary works are still alive in the city. You just need to know where to look… Make your next weekend break a literary Paris exploration, from book-themed hotels to legendary bookshops and historic writers’ hang-out spots.
The Weekender: Literary Paris
A lit-lover’s delight, the only hotel to choose for your literary Paris weekend is Pavillon des Lettres, with 26 rooms and suites each dedicated to a different letter of the alphabet and a great writer from European literary history. The walls are adorned with extracts from the writers’ famous works, with a book for bedtime reading. Choose the Anderson junior suite on the sixth floor for stunning views across the rooftops of Paris with the Eiffel tower twinkling just a stone’s throw away. The Literary Wine Menu sees classic works of literature paired with wines by a sommelier, so you can spend your afternoon at leisure in the bar – we’d advise arriving at 5pm, when complimentary tapas is on offer, so you can enjoy your novel-matched-wine with a delicious selection of Parisian breads, cheeses, meats, olives and nuts. pavillondeslettres.com | See our image slideshow for an inside look at the Pavillon des Lettres
4 Literary Paris Sights
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company first opened its doors a century ago and has become a Left Bank institution over its long and significant cultural history. The shop served as a second home for expat writers flocking to Paris throughout the 20th century, with Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Joyce amongst the visitors. After a short closure from 1940 to 1951, the current shop was opened by George Whitman, staying true to the original, as a culture and creativity hub as well as a book shop for new and exciting works alongside rare and signed first editions. Aggie the resident cat can be found napping in the cosy reading nooks upstairs, where you can easily spend an afternoon lost in literature. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris | shakespeareandcompany.com
Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise
The world’s most visited cemetery and a who’s-who of literary figures of yesteryear, the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise is usually full of crowds searching for the resting place of Balzac, Proust and Colette. The tomb of Oscar Wilde has been covered with a glass barrier since 2011, since the tradition of fans planting red lipstick kisses on the stone was causing significant damage to the tomb. Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris
Legend has it that Votaire would drink 40 cups of coffee here, in Paris’ oldest continually open restaurant, every day. Le Procope has been visited by the likes of Balzac, Hugo and Georges Sand throughout its history and was reportedly a prominent meeting place during the French Revolution, hence the menu favourite ‘Revolutionaries’ Beef’. 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris | procope.com
St-Germain des Pres
Any literary Paris weekender isn’t complete without a stroll along rue Ferou, where Hemingway spent his final years in Paris (at number 6, to be precise) and you will now find the famous Arthur Rimbaud poem Le Bateau Ivre scrawled on a wall. He wrote it for his subsequent lover Paul Verlaine in a nearby café. Of course.
Stays at Pavillon des Lettres start at €199 per room per night based on two sharing on a B&B basis. To book visit pavillondeslettres.com or call +33 (0)1 49 24 26 26