St Germain des Près is a part of Paris that evokes all kinds of images – jazz and be bop clubs swinging, Aragon, Apollinaire, Breton and and the Surrealist painters hanging out at the Deux Magots, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and the Paris intellectuals working in the Café de Flore….Picasso, Man Ray and Hemingway were also regulars of the area, Boris Vian even wrote a guide to the area in 1950 called ‘Le Manuel de St Germain des Près’
Nowadays the cafés and a few of the jazz clubs are still there, and St Germain des Près is a beautiful place to hang out in.
The famous triangle of cafés still exists. Brasserie Lipp is a favourite of politicians, journalists and editors. De Gaulle and Pompidou used to lunch here, Ben Barka was arrested here.
Jean Paul Sartre wrote of the Café Flore “Simone de Beauvoir and I more or less set up house at the Flore. We worked from 9am until noon, then we went out to lunch. At 2 we came back and talked with our friends till 4, when we got down to work again till 8. And after dinner people came to see us by appointment. It may seem strange, all this, but the Flore was like home to us…”
Les Deux Magots is where Ernest Hemingway used to be a regular, he reminisces about drinking here as a young writer receiving rejection slips in ‘A Moveable feast’, and in ‘The Sun also Rises’ this is where Jake Barnes meets up with Lady Brett.
Nowadays you probably won’t find many struggling artists or writers in St Germain des Près, especially when you consider how much it now costs for a coffee in these particular cafés! But it’s a lively and fascinating place, great for shopping, meeting people or just relaxing for an afternoon. Bring a book by Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemingway or Boris Vian; there are many cafés to choose from so pick an outdoor table or one by the window, and indulge in one of the Parisian’s favourite pastimes – people watching.
- Metro: St Germain des Près