If you’re heading to Paris anytime soon, are you considering SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY for your itinerary?
Here’s some information on the iconic Parisian bookstore.
The original bookstore was opened by American Sylvia Beach in 1919 and it was located at 8 rue Dupuytren.
When a bigger more desirable building around the corner on 12 rue de l’Odeon became available, Ms. Beach moved her store to that location.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking the present day store is one and the same with the one that Sylvia Beach ran…it is not. It is however, most definitely, an homage to that store.
Sylvia Beach published James Joyce‘s Ulysses out of Shakespeare & Company. You can read about this and Ms. Beach’s life in Shakespeare & Company…a memoir she herself penned.
If you would like to read Sylvia Beach’s story written as historical fiction (it is extremely accurate) in a captivating literary voice, pick up THE PARIS BOOKSELLER by Kerri Maher. It’s Sylvia’s story, well told.
Wait! There’s more. We’re not yet geographically close to the current day bookstore ALSO KNOWN AS Shakespeare & Company!
It was Sylvia Beach’s store over on rue de l’Odeon that had such literati in attendance as F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Ford Maddox Ford, James Joyce and others.
The original store was mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST. He was quite touched at how quickly Ms. Beach welcomed him. She allowed him to enter the bookstore’s lending library before he paid the fee. You get the sense from his words that she took him under her wing. Her store actually served as a sort of post office for the expat writers who frequented it…a home away from home.
Beach was imprisoned by the Nazis during the war. In 1941, during the occupation, the store closed. When Beach was released, she was ill…and she never re-opened the store.
Ten years later, George Whitman, an American ex-serviceman and communist at heart opened the present day Shakespeare & Company location under the name of “Le Mistral”.
Le Mistral was a stomping ground for the next generation of writers…the BEAT and beyond. Everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Gregory Corso to William S. Burroughs haunted this new location in the shadow of Notre-Dame Cathedral…not yet named Shakespeare & Company. Also present were James Baldwin, Lawrence Durrell, George Plimpton, and many many more.
George Whitman modeled Le Mistral after Shakespeare & Company and it was with Ms. Beach’s blessing that he eventually changed the name of his bookstore to Shakespeare & Company. Though it’s believed the blessing happened in 1958, it wasn’t until after Beach’s death in 1964 that the name change became official.
Sylvia Whitman, George’s daughter, now runs the bookstore. She has found many ways to move Shakespeare & Company into the 21st century. Speaking of which, don’t miss the store’s podcast!
The current Shakespeare & Company has ‘housed’ writers throughout its existence. They still host writers to this day. If you visit the store, you might be served by one of these visiting writers…literary wanderers neither lost nor found. They even have a name. They are called TUMBLEWEEDS…for the way they tumble into the store and float around there.
Why visit Shakespeare & Company? It’s a literary landmark that connects Paris to North America like no other. J. R. R. Tolkien once said, “All those who wander are not lost.” If history (and the history of Shakespeare & Company) is any indication, all those writers who wander through Paris have found themselves, at one time or another, at one incarnation of this iconic bookstore or another. Either they visited Ms. Beach, or Mr. Whitman, or Ms. Whitman. And if you are literary-minded, you might want to wander in their footsteps. Between the three stores, there is so much history! Even this latest incarnation has an incredible amount of history.
There are many wonderful rooms upstairs at Shakespeare & Company, filled with old books, and desks, and lounges, and pianos, and cats.
If you’re a book geek, you will want to stop by Shakespeare. They have a first edition room, as well, if you are a collector. And in recent years, they even opened a cafe. If you’re literary minded, don’t ask WHY SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY? Ask WHY NOT?
The more you learn about its history, the more this magical maze of a store will appeal to you…and open up to you!
Hemingway knew about Paris and how it infiltrates you, once you’ve been there. He understood the ever-present need one has to return there, like a salmon running upstream and fighting against the current to return, to return, to return…for Paris gets into you, and calls you back. For Paris is a moveable feast hard to ignore, hard to stay away from. Hard, even, to turn away from.
We are returning to the magical city! Our passage is booked. We will spend a little of our September (2023) walking the streets of Paris once again. Two weeks this time. We will see the places we’ve already seen and some we missed. We will venture daily from our hotel on the outskirts of Le Marais this time. Nothing against the 9th Arrondissement (where we stayed in 2021) or Île Saint-Louis in the 4th (where I stayed in 2014)! We loved staying so close to the Moulin Rouge and Boulevard de Clichy! And I really enjoyed staying down the street from Notre-Dame! But it will be nice to stay in a different neighbourhood…experience a different vibe yet again. Besides, the Saint-Louis is only a stone’s throw from the Marais!
But this is still months away. 225 days, to be exact. Not that I’m counting. But let’s just be honest…I’m counting.
Having just disembarked from Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas not quite two weeks ago, I am already counting down to our next adventure with a degree of desperation.
As we map out our stay in Paris, I already worry about our itinerary. Will we see everything we want to see? Will we forget something only to remember it when we’re on the plane on the way home? Will we have enough time? I’m already experiencing FOMO!
This trip’s itinerary will have a mix of overlapping items with the last trip, as well as a lot of new items. There are some things I want to see during every Paris trip. Some of the new ones will be Paris Disney and Mont-Saint-Michel. As well as a few other sights we missed. I’m dying to visit Montparnasse!
Also, though a picnic was on our itinerary for 2021, we didn’t quite make it. It is my goal to do it this time around. It was great fun with the Left Bank Writers Retreat in 2014! Maybe somewhere in or near Square du Vert-Galant! That is the goal, anyway! We’ll get a baguette, some cheese, a little wine…it’ll be magic!
There are so many museums in Paris, that we only saw a fraction of them during our last visit. We’ll hit a few that we missed and probably do one or two that we have already visited. It would take a month to see all of the Louvre. It is impossible to see it all in one visit. Also, what’s a trip to Paris without going to Shakespeare & Company?! I couldn’t imagine it! I also want to go to their new(ish) coffee shop next door. I don’t know why we didn’t think to go there on our last visit.
One of my favourite days in Paris in 2021 was our DAY OF THE DEAD! This turned out to be a thematic day filled with all things dead, from the Catacombes, to Père Lachaise Cemetery to the Panthéon. It would have been the perfect Paris day, had the booked tour through Père Lachaise been unceremoniously and without warning cancelled. We had to wander through that city of a cemetery on our own. We still managed to find a lot of the graves we wanted to visit, but without the tour we felt we did not do it justice. Hopefully, now that we’re further along in this forever-pandemic, the tour we book this time won’t be cancelled at the last minute. I want context with my stroll through the cemetery.
The list of restaurants is growing so quickly, I’m afraid we won’t have enough days to visit all the ones we wish to see. We will be narrowing it down in the coming weeks. One I like to return to is La Closerie des Lilas. It’s not incredible, but it has an incredible literary history. It draws me to it. Maybe just a cocktail next time? Maybe with an appetizer?
If we miss anything, I suppose we can always do it on our NEXT trip after this one. There will always be a next trip, right?! There is never any end to Paris!
Only 225 days to go. That seems like a lifetime when there are several inches of snow on the ground and a cold-snap is threatening to overwhelm us. The countdown is on…
It’s been almost a year now since we last visited Paris. An entire year! Each time I go, it becomes more dear to my heart. More than any other of my sacred places in this world, Paris is the closest to my heart. I know, without even contemplating it all that much, that I could live there in an instant.
Despite my oft repeated promise to myself that I would not visit a place more than once because there are too many places to visit, I find myself planning for the next Paris trip. Having just returned from there in October, 2021, we are indeed going back in 2023.
What we saw of beyond the city last year has me wanting to tour the entire country of France. Even as I dream of my next hike on the Camino de Santiago, I consider the pilgrimage path known as Chemin du Puy. Le Puy looks as stunning as the rest of France. To begin a walk in Le Puy-en-Velay? The mere idea is dreamlike. Walking through all those tiny French towns? Heaven.
I guess all of France has me. I’m still living the memories of our quick visit to Giverny to visit Monet’s home and gardens. Even in October, the blooms were plentiful. The house was a fairy-tale one can easily imagine falling into and never leaving.
In 2023 we plan on staying in the Marais. We merely skirted this historic district of Paris during our 2021 visit. With so much to see, you always miss something…you always have a reason to go back.
We raced to see all that we could in the week we allotted ourselves to see it. From my favourite neighbourhood of Montmartre…
…to my favourite bookstore in all the world, Shakespeare & Company…
There’s just something about Paris. I feel comfortable there, more myself. The way it’s a walkable city, the way it’s a city of cafes and museums and art galleries. The way even the dead have their place and relevance… significance. The way a bonjour is expected and a picnic is encouraged. The way history can be found in layers upon layers as you walk its streets. It’s just fully mine in a way that no other city is.
Paris is a city that belongs fully and completely to all of its adoring fans. It is so multifaceted that there’s enough to go around, enough for everyone to love and feel a special connection to. There are as many Parises as there are people who adore Paris. Or, without bastardizing the English language by attempting to pluralize Paris, your Paris is different from my Paris.
We’re currently planning all the things we will visit that we missed–or walked right past–on our last visit. But we’ll definitely be revisiting a lot of places. There are places in Paris that I can’t imagine not visiting every single time I’m there.
These must visit places include, but are not limited to, Shakespeare & Company, Rue Saint Louis en l’île, the Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, and more. These are necessary places in my Paris. Even the overpriced La Closerie des Lilas feels like a necessary stop for me. Even with the indifferent waiter we had during our last experience there. My Paris just needs to include certain places.
Can we go to Paris without going to the Daru Staircase at the Louvre, where Audrey Hepburn iconically posed in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace?! I think not!
We’ll be making a list over the next year, and checking it twice. If you have any favourite places in Paris that are off the beaten path…something you might think travelers overlook…drop the info in the comments section. I’d love to discover something new that’s not already on my radar. The list of places we haven’t visited yet is surprisingly quite extensive, considering the places I’ve already checked off the list during previous visits. But I’d love to find something new to love about my favourite city!
Whoever said you can’t walk everywhere in Paris hasn’t met Michael and I. Last October we proved all naysayers wrong by the power of our own four feet. One of the best days of our week was the one we named our DAY OF THE DEAD.
No, we didn’t die that day. Trust me, it was a thematic name choice.
In Paris, we stayed in the 9th at an unassuming little hotel called Hôtel de Paris Saint Georges. We don’t go big on hotels, because they’re only for sleeping in when your goal is to take in every inch of every city you visit. The hotel is not important, as long as it’s clean.
Our first goal on the Day of the Dead was to make our way to Père Lachaise Cemetery all the way over in the 20th arrondissement. Google Maps told us it was a mere 5.2km away. A walk in the park that would take us 1 hour and 8 minutes, according to Google. Google also doesn’t know us. We knew we could cut that number down to an hour.
My first time in Paris was action packed with Left Bank Writers Retreat stuff, so I didn’t get to see Père Lachaise. The days were too fully planned out to sneak away, and the cemetery was closed at night. Who closes a cemetery at night?! The nerve!
I had several graves on my visiting wish-list, and we booked a walking tour at the cemetery to make things easy for us. It’s a huge cemetery!
Unfortunately, our Day of the Dead was going to begin with a fail. Not surprising, since we were still dead in the middle of the pandemic. The tour didn’t sell enough tickets, so it was cancelled. The worst part was that the tour company didn’t tell us it was cancelled. Michael and I stood by the designated Metro stop waiting for the guide to appear for far too long. After doing several somersaults and finally contacting the tour guide people, we discovered we had been waiting in vain. We were on our own.
Even though we didn’t see everyone on the list, we did manage to see a few of the famous people I wanted to visit. Having waited decades to see this historic cemetery, I was not disappointed. Sure, it would have been a hundred percent better with the accompaniment of a guide, but it was still an amazing morning!
We saw Wilde, Piaf, Proust, Moliere, Balzac, Chopin, and Morrison, among others. Then we accepted our defeat and put Père Lachaise onto the bingo card for our next visit to Paris. Next time, hopefully, we will have a guide. There’s still quite a few people on my wish-list that we missed. Take my word for it, if you’re going to visit Père Lachaise, get a guided tour. You may think you can do it alone, but it is really overwhelming once you’re there. Even with a paper map or Google Maps. I was just too overwhelmed to remember half the names I wanted to visit. And we did some crisscrossing we could have avoided. GET. A. GUIDE.
With our mad dash throughout the cemetery over, we were off to our next stop! Did somebody say Panthéon?! And how does the Panthéon work into our Day of the Dead, you might ask if you’re not familiar with the building in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Off to the 5th arrondissement we go!
Panthéon, temple to all the gods. Sitting atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon (Built from 1758-1790), once a church, is now a mausoleum for the remains of France’s most distinguished citizens. This incarnation of a mausoleum could very well be the building’s last and eternal purpose.
Once we made the brisk 4.1km walk from Père Lachaise, with a quick stop at a yummy Indian restaurant we stumbled upon along the way, we were ready to meet more of history’s illustrious dead.
We visited almost everyone resting there. From Voltaire to Zola.
A highlight of the visit, for me as a writer and reader, was Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.
Since we were in the neighbourhood (the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement), we also visited Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which is just behind the Panthéon. This church was made newly famous after appearing in the movie Midnight in Paris. I had visited the church back in 2014 when the Panthéon was closed for some restorative work. We took an iconic (to us) photo of ourselves on the church steps where Gil sat in Midnight in Paris, right before he was whisked away into the Paris of the 1920s.
And here’s the facade of the church. The steps made famous in the movie are on the left hand side of the photo below.
After visiting the greatest of France’s late citizens, we were off to visit the bones of some of Paris’s late great cemeteries. Say that ten times fast. Anyway, Catacombes de Paris in the 14th arrondissement were the next stop on our Day of the Dead.
If you can, always get your tickets online in advance. You will avoid a headache, or even the possibility of being turned away at the door.
The Catacombes were another place I missed on my last visit to Paris, and, therefore, a must see during this visit. We made the 2.7km walk in no time, even with the quick detour through the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement! We couldn’t walk by this treasure when we could almost as easily walk through it!
Getting down to the dark underbelly was a feat in itself. The spiral staircase brought back memories of climbing the never-ending staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, or the just-as-deadly staircase to the top of the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. Paris sure does love the spiral staircase!
The Catacombes were everything we hoped they would be. Death made creepy by darkness and dirt, with a little dripping wetness thrown in for good measure. We were under Paris, surrounded by the bones of millions of long-dead displaced Parisiennes.
Watch your head!
The Catacombes holds the remains of over 6 million people. It is something to see. If you’re visiting Paris and have no problems with mobility issues or claustrophobia, I highly recommend it. I will say, however, that it is probably a one and done. There are many places in Paris I will visit again and again. The Catacombes, incredible as it was to experience, probably isn’t one of them.
The parts of the Catacombes open to public are roughly 1km in length. You’ll never guess where one arrives after climbing the almost identical spiral staircase up out of the dungeons of Paris. That’s right! A gift shop! All of the world’s attractions and rides now deposits its adventurers off into the coveted gift shop. A sure sign of Commerce Above All Else!
After our tour of dead things, we capped off our day at my restaurant of choice in the hopes of having a chance encounter with a ghost from Paris’s glorious literary past. Between the Catacombes and the Jardin du Luxembourg, you will come to one of Paris’s most famous literary restaurants. That’s saying a lot, as quite a few of Paris’s restaurants were made famous by the patronage of many of its literary elite from the time of the Lost Generation.
The one I chose was La Closerie des Lilas, which was a mere 850m from the Catacombes.
We had a lovely (if overpriced) meal outside on the patio while I imagined Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald tucked away in a corner making literary chatter and writing away in their battered journals while drinking light aperitifs.
And just like my son Jacob used to do whenever we visited a new restaurant when he was a little boy, I made the excuse to use the facilities so I could snoop around some.
At the bar, if you look closely enough, you will see a tiny brass nameplate screwed into the bar top at one of the available chairs. It says ERNEST HEMINGWAY. This is where Ernest sat at times.
With dinner over, so too was our day at its end. Almost. In Paris, the day is always only almost over…
Now, we only had to walk home! And you bet we made some stops along the way. The dead things may have been behind us, but there was still a lot to see!
After stopping to visit the Seine, we decided to make a little side-trip to Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île on the island, where I stayed during my first visit to Paris. Here’s to another 2.5km!
We had our meal at Closerie, but it was time for dessert! Where else but Amorino Saint Louis?! What else, but gelato?!
Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île will always be one of my favourite places in Paris. When I stayed there in 2014, I loved to wake up early and get out into the tiny street and watch it come to life! Such simple magic!
Next! 750m to The Lady. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I mean, it was right there! We couldn’t NOT visit. I know it’s closed, but just to walk by it…
This concluded our Day of the Dead. After another 3.8km of walking through the nighttime streets of Paris, we were back at our hotel. It was time to sleep, to recoup and prepare for our next day of conquering the streets of Paris one footstep at a time!
My step counter for this day showed 35,173 steps, or 27.6km. Just a stroll in the big scheme of things. How often do you get to wander around the streets of Paris seeking out dead things?!
I have now been home from Paris about one and a half weeks. Paris never lasts long enough, does it?!
I thought that by bringing a great nugget of Paris home with me, I would somehow prolong my visit…if only in my head and in my heart. But like being given your favourite treats and attempting to make them last, I have now devoured the last of that great nugget I carried back across the pond with me.
The nugget of which I speak? A book. A tome I thought would last a little longer. A tome I devoured all too quickly!
Shakespeare & Company Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart. This is going down as THE most magical book I ever read. Read isn’t even right…it doesn’t cover what I did. I fell into this book. I immersed myself in this book. So divine, it was!
To think, Michael practically had to twist my arm to get me to buy it during our first visit this time around to the iconic and beautiful madhouse of books. There’s no place quite like Shakespeare & Company Bookstore at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris. I hemmed and I hawed. The price would put it somewhere in the vicinity of extravagant as a self-purchase and I really wrung my hands over it. Should I? Shouldn’t I? In the end, Michael prevailed. He talked me into purchasing the thing I MOST wanted to purchase in all the store.
I HAVE NO REGRETS. Such a beautiful rambling read through the history of my favourite international bookstore, which also, itself, has a tendency to ramble through space and time.
George Whitman was a formidable presence in the universe. I believed that before opening the book, and I know it now. He was a magician with a gravitational pull that rivaled the universe itself. He was the moon, orchestrating the tides of ‘Tumbleweeds’ in and out of his magical bookstore for decades.
I’ve loved Shakespeare & Company since I first learned about its first incarnation, created by Sylvia Beach and found originally at 8 Rue Dupuytren and then the bigger location at 12 rue de l’Odéon. George Whitman was the perfect successor of the name (Whitman changed the name of the current day Shakespeare & Company from Le Mistral in 1964, presumably with Ms. Beach’s blessing). He carried with him the same kind of generosity of heart and spirit as his predecessor.
Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:
A copiously illustrated account of the famed Paris bookstore on its 65th anniversary
This first-ever history of the legendary bohemian bookstore in Paris interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop–Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others–with hundreds of never-before-seen archival pieces, including photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs and Langston Hughes, plus a foreword by the celebrated British novelist Jeanette Winterson and an epilogue by Sylvia Whitman, the daughter of the store’s founder, George Whitman. The book has been edited by Krista Halverson, director of the newly founded Shakespeare and Company publishing house.
George Whitman opened his bookstore in a tumbledown 16th-century building just across the Seine from Notre-Dame in 1951, a decade after the original Shakespeare and Company had closed. Run by Sylvia Beach, it had been the meeting place for the Lost Generation and the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses. (This book includes an illustrated adaptation of Beach’s memoir.) Since Whitman picked up the mantle, Shakespeare and Company has served as a home-away-from-home for many celebrated writers, from Jorge Luis Borges to Ray Bradbury, A.M. Homes to Dave Eggers, as well as for young authors and poets. Visitors are invited not only to read the books in the library and to share a pot of tea, but sometimes also to live in the bookstore itself–all for free.
More than 30,000 people have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, fulfilling Whitman’s vision of a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Through the prism of the shop’s history, the book traces the lives of literary expats in Paris from 1951 to the present, touching on the Beat Generation, civil rights, May ’68 and the feminist movement–all while pondering that perennial literary question, “What is it about writers and Paris?”
If you want to read an extraordinarily moving history of one of the world’s most astonishing bookstores, you need to have this book in your life. It would also make a fantastic present for the literary lover in your life. I know I’m going to cherish my copy forever. Now that I’ve read it, I know with certainty that is a book that will give me much joy in future re-readings. I could not put it down. Wandering through its pages felt much the same as wandering through the crooked little rooms and alcoves and mystery spaces splattered with books and things inside Shakespeare & Company itself.
The Left Bank Writers Retreat – Writing At Hemingway’s Favorite Spots in Paris!
(Full Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Left Bank Writers Retreat. I am merely a past participant who thoroughly enjoyed and cherished the experience given to me by the retreat.)
It appears that the 2022 Left Bank Writers Retreat is a go!
If you or someone in your family would love nothing more than to tour Hemingway’s Paris while going deeper with your writing craft in the midst of the city of love and light, look no further than the Left Bank Writers Retreat!
The knowledgeable faculty are not only experts in the craft of writing, but they’ll immerse you fully into the Paris that Hemingway knew as an expat writer back in the day when he lived and wrote in Paris. And they’re all lovely people you will immediately feel comfortable with as they guide you through your Paris experience.
For me, being a first time visitor to Paris, I was immediately at ease in the presence of the LBWR faculty! You really get a sense that they’re taking care of all the details. Even those evenings when the students are left to their own devices, the faculty is at the ready to answer any questions you may have prior to your individual adventuring.
Visit Hemingway’s haunts, lunch together, explore museums, be guided through neighborhoods that come to life with your LBWR guides! I really can’t say enough about how wonderful my experiences were with this retreat. I think of it fondly and often…these seven years on since participating.
There is still time to register, either for yourself or for a family member (should you be looking for the perfect Christmas Gift!).
From the front page of the website, a little rundown:
Eight writers will spend a week immersed in new experiences in the magical setting of Paris’s Left Bank. Part writers workshop, part tour of Paris, The Left Bank Writers Retreat is for anyone who would like to break out of a writing rut and build momentum in their work. Will you be one of the 2022 Left Bank Writers?
Cost: $1,999 includes morning workshops, breakfast, lunch each day at a fabulous restaurant, snacks, museum passes, literary tours, Seine boat ride, Metro tickets and a farewell dinner celebration.
This retreat will enrich your writing life and give you a lifetime of memories. I cannot recommend it enough!
We just returned from Paris after a week in the city of light. I always feel changed after Paris, as though the light has somehow found a way to get inside. Paris is food for the soul.
The last time I visited Paris was with the Left Bank Writers Retreat. It was just as magical this time around. I wonder if one sees Paris for the first time every time one visits. I intend to find out! I hope to go back again one day…
I was recently asked by one of my fave YouTubers (LivDeeper10x–check out their channel here!) what was ONE thing I was going to do this month to LIVE DEEPER. My first response was VISIT PARIS. But visiting a place isn’t enough, is it? That doesn’t bring us deeper. Not in and of itself. It is not going to a place that brings one deeper. It is what we bring back of the place that causes us to live deeper, is it not? And I don’t mean the trinkets and bits and bobs.
I carry with me now such memories!
Michael and I decided early on that we would rely only on our feet to take us to all the places we wanted to see in Paris, to immerse ourselves into the Paris streets and see all the things along the way to those places.
After clocking close to 180km on foot, I think it’s safe to say we accomplished what we set out to do. We did not see it all, we did not do it all. But we found magic in the things we did see and do.
I cannot decide my favourite neighborhood of Paris. They all clamor for attention and adoration. But I do know Montmartre holds a special place in my Bohemian writer/painter/artist heart!
We wandered slowly up to the city’s sacred heart, in order to take in some of the beauty along the way…
Such a unique neighborhood! But then again, they are all unique.
Our first full day in Paris, we booked the Tower and the Louvre. We hadn’t seen the tower yet, so we made our way there by foot.
It is not the going to a place that causes one to live deeper. It’s what you get out of the going. It’s the memories you create and cherish. I will probably be talking about Paris for a while here on the blog. We covered a lot of ground! We carried back a lot of memories with us. We went deep! From the Tower to the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe to the Catacombes to Père Lachaise Cemetery to Les Deux Magots to La Closerie des Lilas to Jules Verne Restaurant to Musée d’Orsay to Musée de l’Orangerie to Versailles to Giverny and Monet’s house and gardens to the Moulin Rouge to Sacré-Cœur to Notre Dame to Shakespeare & Company to Luxembourg Gardens and beyond! We walked the walk. We stood breathless in front of Monets and Picassos and Manets and Renoirs and Van Goghs. We held our breath in front of Rodins and lost our breath on spiral staircases going down below the city and up above it!
Paris will always be a city that inspires all to LIVE DEEPLY. You cannot take it in without being changed by the experience. My one thing that I did in October to live deeper? I carried an entire city across a vast ocean and continue to carry it close to me now.
We each contain multitudes of universes. They are there inside us, waiting always to be pondered and re-experienced. This is why we carry those universes with us. For those quiet moments we need amidst the hectic ones. If we stop the noise and the chaos of our everyday workaday lives for just a moment–just long enough to breathe a little deeper–to sigh alongside a memory of walking the banks of the Seine with the one you love…then you have an oasis inside of you from which to draw your strength. We live deeply in the moments so that we may always revisit them when we need to refill the well.
Going places is the easy part. Bringing places back with you? As long as you remember to do so, you’ll have them with you always. This is the living deeper part…stopping to capture those moments for future ponderance, epiphanies and joy.
Until our next adventures, we’ll always have Paris!
When I want to manifest something, I first bring it to life on my blog. For those paying attention, I always do this. I’ve become predictable, even.
Sometimes these notions I have first appear in my Twitter feed. And then I feel the need to solidify them by writing about them on my blog. It’s called accountability and it’s a way to hold myself to task. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
This is how my last novel, The Camino Club came about. At first, I dreamed it. Then I tweeted about my idea. And then, while I was preparing to walk my first Camino in 2014, I blogged about it. It was a kernel of an idea. So in order to hold myself accountable, I put out into the world that I would write a YA novel set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path.
That novel was published by Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press, in 2020. Ask me about launching a book during a pandemic. You know what, on second thought…don’t ask me. Nobody should have to do that!
Anyway, I’m also famous for digressing. Today I want to hold myself accountable for a new idea.
My dream this time is to release a journal of our upcoming short trip to Paris. It will only be a week in Paris…but a week is enough if you’re fast of your toes. Paris is a moveable feast. But it’s also a well constructed easily traversed city that’s perfectly laid out for the hiker and consummate walker. That happens to be what Michael and I are. We will take that city by storm, one footstep at a time…and we will cover it all!
And I will keep a daily journal. And if all goes according to plan, I will publish it. The only other thing I ever self-published was my short story set on the Camino called Light Near the End of the World. So this will be my 2nd journey into that world.
I don’t have a plan, but I will write about the places we visit in Paris and how we got to those places. And I will write about food and restaurants and cafes and macarons and baguettes. I will cover everything that strikes my fancy. We’ll see how this goes.
I will probably start writing in the journal before I even get to Paris. This will be a personal account of ONE JOURNEY. We’re traveling during a pandemic and we’re getting to Paris via Iceland. I mean, anything can happen, right? We’ll see if we get there…and if and when we do, I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about.
I’m ready. With my Dollarama journal and the lovely bookmark I picked up somewhere along the way as its traveling companion, I will take notes on our Parisienne travels.
I hope this goes well! I’m so passionate about Paris. It appears in many of my short stories, and I am also currently writing a YA novel that takes place there. Wrapped somewhere in the reasoning for returning to Paris–one of my favourite cities in the world–is the excuse of doing some extra research for my novel in progress. But honestly, I just love it there so much. I want Michael to see it…and I want to see it again for the first time, through his eyes.
Just over 40 days before our departure. Let’s hope the Delta Variant doesn’t keep us from our already postponed (we originally planned Paris for September, 2020) trip to the beautiful city of light!
That is the amount of days between US and our Paris arrival.
If the universe allows it, that is.
Michael and I are booked.
In today’s pandemic times, of course, ANYTHING can happen between now and then. Especially with this new special fuckery known as the Delta variant.
As of this writing, borders are open to double-vaxxed travelers and re-entry is allowed. Is it wise? That is the question I keep asking myself. Over and over and over again.
But by hook or by crook, we are destined for Paris.
And this excursion will include miles and miles and miles of…WALKING. Our hotel is about halfway between the Arc de Triomphe and Sacré-Cœur. This gives us hikers immediate walking access to all of the Paris must-see locations. We have one week to visit everything! Our feet got this! WE got this!
Paris is one of those cities–planned or accidental–that are absolutely PERFECT for walking. There’s so much to see in such a tight little circle of interest. We plan to cover every masked-and-socially-distanced inch of it.
I can’t wait to be back there! Since my first trip in 2014, I just feel like Paris is one of those magical places that resonate with me so completely. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could live in that city and call it home. I’m sure a lot of its visitors say this very same thing. But that’s because it’s true. It’s just one of those cities.
I intend to take copious notes this time around. Who am I kidding? I ALWAYS intend on taking copious notes…I just never do! This time will be different. I need this information. Both for a novel in progress I’ve been working on…and for another (non-fiction) project I’m tossing about. So this TOTALLY 100% SIGHTSEEING PLEASURE TRIP is going to have a dash of incidental research on the side.
And you can bet your sweet bippy I will be visiting Shakespeare & Company and spending some cash in their store! We all must do our part to keep the Shakey Pear & Co afloat! I want it to be there after the pandemic. You know, you can actually do your part from afar. They did put out a call during the pandemic that they could use support. Here’s a link to their ONLINE STORE. You can even become a member. I will definitely be spending time there, and bringing home a few Shakespearean things with me!
100 Days & Counting. Fingers are crossed for receding numbers in cases and advancing numbers in fully vaccinated people. I can almost smell those cafe au lait and pain au chocolat mornings!
Just as I have this deep desire to write a travel memoir, or something along those lines, my ability to travel has been hampered. I was so looking forward to traipsing around Paris this September. I fully planned on journaling everything with the intention to write something of a little memoir of our experiences, too. Just as I had every intention of writing a memoir of our upcoming Caminho Português.
I suppose both are still possible, with the passage of time and good fortune. It would depend both on the pandemic being over and my surviving it. For now, I am just standing here on the corner of Wanderlust and Disappointment–Nowhere to go and a deep unsettling urge to get there.
But I’m not a patient person. I was gung ho to finally dabble in the world of travel memoir that I have fallen so deeply in love with. I planned to cover all my tracks in Paris this year. And to fully record every step of our Camino experience in the less traveled Portugues Way next year. And now it’s gone…for now. Lost to this coronavirus that will not go away.
I know these are first world problems, that we should be happy enough just to avoid infection, but as the day of our intended departure nears it is a pain made more raw. We were to fly to Paris on Friday September 4th. We were to be in the beautiful City of Light for my 54th birthday on the 13th. I was to scrawl our experiences with intention, possibly while sitting in the shadow of Notre Dame…or in the company of Shakespeare and Co. No matter the frivolity of the loss, it is nonetheless a loss.
Now, what happens? Do we push Paris forward a year and hope the pandemic ends? Do we walk the Camino next year and bump Paris? Do we plan something altogether different? Do we make no plans and hope only to survive?
There will be no travel memoir writing, at any rate. Not while our wings are clipped and we are stuck on the ground. This is my whiny post of negativity. It’s been a long time coming. People are dying and I’m complaining about not being able to write about the sunset in Paris, or how the books in the poetry section of Shakespeare and Co smell. Or how a macaroon always tastes better in Paris—when it carries with it that extra O, and the meringue is made in France. I’m bitter about my inability to partake in travel-writing while others deal with heartache and despair.
Is it just me, or is everyone getting tired of this pandemic? I’m glad to be healthy, and to have avoided it thus far. And I’m glad that nobody I know has gotten sick. If we all do our part and practice social distancing and mask wearing…who knows? Maybe it WILL pass. Maybe there will be travel inside the World of After. It seems so bleak right now, our future. Sometimes I feel like I was just getting started. And now that I have the desire to talk about it, to write it down…I am unable to move.
I know Paris will be there. And so will the coast of Portugal. With any luck, so too will I. And if and when the time comes that we once again board a plane and disappear into adventure…a journal will come with me. And I will tell it every little thought I have while I’m away.
In the meantime, I suppose it’s time to cozy up with a book that has already been there among the wanderlust and roaming. There are plenty of books on travel out there, just waiting to be explored. No tickets or packing needed.
“When the wind is blowing and the sleet or rain is driving against the dark windows, I love to sit by the fire, thinking of what I have read in books of voyage and travel.”— Charles Dickens