Ernest Hemingway said this while living in Paris as a young man during the 1920s. It is not difficult to imagine what the city must have been like during that time, when American writers and artists infiltrated the city, producing some of the best literary works of the twentieth century. The Paris of the “lost generation” can still be found in neigborhoods like the Latin Quarter and St. Germain Des Pres, which fortunately for us, is where our hotel in Paris was located.
We arrived in Paris during the afternoon of the 9th, and checked into the Hotel St. Germain Des Pres. After taking the lift up to our small, but quaint room, we took some time to relax, then headed out to Cafe Bonaparte, right down the road from us. Cafe Bonaparte is a rather large cafe/restuarant that sits a block east of Rue St. Germain; on the opposite corner from the Cathedral. This meal; delicious food and wine (canelloni and local french savignon), coupled with the view of the oldest church in paris; St Germain Des Pres, made for a tremendously enjoyable travel experience.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to relax, (still very much jet lagged), and rest a bit. Around 8pm, the hotel concierge called us a taxi to take us to the Eiffel Tower, where I had pre-arranged a “skip the line” tour for mom and me at 9:30. Oh yeah, if your’re reading this and don’t already know, I’ m traveling in France right now with my mom to celebrate her 70th birthday.
We arrived at the Eiffel towere around 8:15, and walked thorugh the herds of tourists to get to the Parc du Champ de Mars. Weaving in and out of West African immigrants trying to sell us lighted balls and miniture replicas of the Eiffel Tower, we found a bench where my mom could rest and people watch, until I came back with the tickets.
Our scheduled time of entry was 9:30. which is a perfect time, as the sun starts to go completely down and the tower slowly illumintates.
We entered through the South Pillar, took the elevator up to the second floor, then waited in line to take the lift all the way to the top- not great views up there, but a bucket list item for my mom. By the time we made it to the summit, it was 11pm, and by the time we made it back out to the Quai Branly (road that runs alongside the Siene), we were both thrillled to have gone to the top, but more than ready to go to bed.
The next moring, we slept in, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of cafe, croissants, bread, cheese, and jam, in the lounge.
The skies were rather dark with clouds, and the rain was falling on and off, so we had the receptionist call us a cab to take us to Shakespeare and Company; the famous English bookstore that Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgeralsd, and many others frequented during the 1920s.
The original bookstore was opened in the 1920s by Sylvia Beach to cater to the “lost generation” of writers and poets that had moved to Paris after World War I. Remember, this was the period of Prohibition in America, so writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerarld could escape the overarching arm of the law and head to Paris to write, drink, and be merry. The bookstore catered to these writers, offering a cheap place to sleep and write. In fact, today, staying true to its literarly tradition, the store provides a place to sleep to struggling writers.
As the rain began to subside, we decided it would be a good idea to make our way across to Il de la Cite to see Notre Dame.
Notre Dame, which literallly translates to “our lady” in French, is probably one of the most visited Catholic Churches in the world. Mom and I tried to navigate around the outsides of the Nave, while Mass was going on. There are numoerous little enclaves dedicated to specific Saints, like St. Theresa, and St. Fernando.
After the Notre Dame, we hired a pedi-cab to take us back to St. Germain Des Pres, where we found a fancy restaurant around the corner from our hotel. We ordered a light lunch, headed back to the hotel, and waited for our taxi to take us ot the River Baroness; my home in France for the next 7 days.