Paris littéraire

Two days after getting home from Morocco, I was off again—this time to Paris to spend the weekend with Anne.

Tour Eiffel, Paris

As this was my fourth time in the Ville Lumière, and since Anne is studying abroad there this semester, we bypassed the main attractions and went off in pursuit of Paris littéraire.

Librairie, Paris

Anne’s and my relationship began when I was employed as her French writing tutor back in 2011. Over the years we’ve bonded over our mutual francophilia. We enjoy excitedly (and nerdily) discussing the nuances of French poetry, philosophy, feminism, etc. We often exchange newly-learned words and expressions. And I take much credit in her decision to become a French major.

She’s also one of my closest friends.

In short, there is no one with whom I would have rather embarked on this literary pilgrimage.

Our first stop was the Panthéon—home to some of France’s “grands hommes” (and femmes). Highlights include: Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie and Victor Hugo.

Voltaire, Le Panthéon, Paris

From there, we trudged through the drizzle to Shakespeare and Company. In its heyday, Paris’s infamous English-language bookstore was frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce (to name a few). The space is cozy, cramped and stuffed to burst with books, upon books, upon books. Since Shakespeare and Co. was known as the cradle of cutting-edge literature back in the day, I decided to go PoMo and invest in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (which I would read cover-to-cover on my train ride back to Auch—post to come).

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Next up was the Cimetière Montparnasse, a.k.a. the resting place of many of our favorite late-19th- and early-to-mid-20th-century authors. We checked in on Marguerite Duras, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Eugène Ionesco, and Samuel Beckett.

Oh and BAUDELAIRE. Charles and I may have shared a kiss…

Kissing Baudelaire, Cimetière Montparnasse

Escaping the damp, we headed to the Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits to take in some first-edition copies of our favorite books and tons of paper touched and scribbled on by France’s literary geniuses. I also got to continue on my poète maudit kick with a temporary exhibit on Verlaine (and thus, by extension, Rimbaud), which brought me back to my IES Nantes poetry days.

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Recharged by an evening of sangria and leftover tartiflette (and eventually a good night’s sleep), Anne and I woke up ready to take on day two. We started with Victor Hugo’s house (more accurately, apartment), which happens to be located in the Place des Voges or ancient Place Royale, which in turn happens to be the setting and title of one of Corneille’s comedies. Double whammy!

Maison Victor Hugo

Hugo himself painted the frame of this mirror

Hugo himself painted the frame of this mirror. Anne and I decided to start taking shots for our soon-to-be-released studio album.

After a historical interlude at the Musée Carnavalet so I could finally visit the French Revolution wing, we made it to our last stop, Père Lachaise: arguably Paris’s most celebrated repository of human remains. We saw Abelard and Héloïse, La Fontaine and Molière, Eluard, Apollinaire, Edith Piaf, and—drumroll—BEAUMARCHAIS.*

BEAUMARCHAIS, Père Lachaise, Paris

The weekend was nearly perfect, but as with any trip to Paris, this one still ended far before I hit everything on my wish-list.

That’s what I love about Paris. It will always keep me coming back for more.

For Anne’s version of our literary extravaganza, click here.

*Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais took over my life for more than a year thanks to an end-of-semester class project, a subsequent summer research grant and finally my senior honors thesis. I’ve studied his plays, their reception and his response; I’ve annotated his letters; and I’ve read his life story (Thanks for your help in the American Revolution!). Suffice it to say, we’re bros.

__________

Click here for more photos from Paris.

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4 comments

  1. J’ai beaucoup aimé ce récit! La poésie française me manque…ce n’est pas exactement le même sans Monsieur Postel…I still stalk your blog on the regs…I’m glad you’re having so many awesome adventures! Miss you!

    1. Merci! Tu (et M. Postel, bien sûr) me manques beaucoup! J’espère que tout se passe bien à Colorado! De l’exhibition sur Verlaine, j’ai appris que, avant sa naissance, sa mère avait plusieurs fausses couches et qu’elle gardait les foetus dans des bocales dans l’armoire…Et un jour, parce qu’il était jaloux et dingue, Verlaine a cassé les bocales dans la cour de l’immeuble. CRAY.

  2. […] It’s finally here! Part 2 of the outrageous adventures of Anne and Cara. If you missed Part 1, it’s here. (And Cara’s version) […]

  3. […] few weeks ago, Anne reciprocated my visit to Paris and came all the way to Auch to bask in my company and some French country […]

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