Remember Paris?

I did. It was more than ten years since my last visit, but I did. And a two-night stopover at the end of the summer – sans enfants – meant quality time together as well as quality time thinking literary thoughts. It’s hard not to feel creative when staying in the gorgeous and highly individual Hotel des Academies et des Arts, just off Rue Montparnasse:

with a textured wallpaper  …

a sumptuous tea room …

and, art …

It was a five-minute stroll to La Closerie de Lilas, where Hemingway once did a lot of writing. The terrace felt like our own kind of secret garden, with its container hedge shielding us from the busy road and passers-by.

A relaxed long promenade along Boulevard Raspail took us to Boulevard Saint-Germain. Time to see the beautiful people at Les Deux Magots, before settling next door in Café de Flore for some people-watching over a pot of Darjeeling and a large slice of tarte maison.

Parisian architecture never fails to seduce me: the height of buildings and their sandy hue, with the ordered wrought iron juliet balconies or symmetrical shutters. It was calming, and I felt at home.

We kept on strolling over the river to the Louvre. The most arresting exhibits of the day for me were Le Déluge by Nicolas Poussin, and the Venus de Milo sculpture.

After a little of this …

… onwards, to the famous Dehillerin cookshop, with its utilitarian displays, a modus operandi steeped in tradition, and charming as a whole.

A browse round the Shakespeare & Company bookshop was another treat. A mix of commercial fiction and gorgeous literary pamphlets, alongside a secondary shop selling true first editions.

For a soothing and tranquil inspiration, the Montparnasse Cemetery was the perfect venue for a poignant stroll on the morning of our departure, giving us plenty of food for thought, as well as feeding the writing soul.

Back home, as the nights draw in I will savour that 36 hours in Paris. I’ve no doubt that new story seeds will form in the wake of the inspiration I took, while current work will also feel the benefit of a little Parisian nourishment.

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