Discovering Scott-Fitzgerald’s lost favourite cocktail bar in Paris

“Rue Montalembert, the very chic Hôtel du Pont Royal is there. My aunt Elsa used to stay there once in a while; she used to stay there often in the tiniest room, the cheapest, hidden under the roof, but she was always very keen to stay at that address. I admired aunt Elsa for her beauty, her culture and her strong character. She had the chance to get to know many famous writers and, among other exploits, he had pushed back Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s advances. She had been offered to become a model for Dior when she presented herself with her sketches seeking a fashion designer position. She felt insulted so she declined the offer. What’s more, she was a painter and a writer. A true character from a novel my aunt Elsa!”

Rue Montalambert then, the Hotel du Pont Royal is still there. The same “very chic hotel” of “aunt Elsa in Françoise Cohen’s novel “The Stolen Footprint” (L’empreint volée). A very special place where we can still feel the soul of countless famous writers and artists. It became a hotel in 1815 but already, 60 years before that, Chateaubriand was there as a guest of the owners of the townhouse located where the hotel stands today. But it was in the 1920s that the hotel became “the place to be” for artists and writers of that time. They all came to have some drinks in one of the first cocktails bars in Paris.


Mixing alcohols? what a funny idea or, perhaps we should say, what a fun idea that was!


While conservative people thought ill of that “idea” others simply love it and, among them, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who were there almost all the time and, with them, all their American friends who then took their own friends with them.


While Curnonsky, the “prince of gastronomes” and Apollinaire were talking about gastronomy in a corner, the old Degas, almost blind was coming sometimes "to have some champagne bubbles". Ernest Hemingway came to shine while Jazz was becoming a real style. Malraux also adopted the bar when he was around, usually, bringing with him a different conquest while the famous Picasso and the young “famous-to-be” Dali meet and pretend not to know each other.



After 2WW, artists wanted to live again and they all came back to the famous cocktail bar. This time it was Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir followed by Boris Vian who became the figures of the underground bar of the Pont Royal and ever since then, while the bar still existed, so many writers came by, met, drank and shared their ideas while drinking the Pont Royal cocktails. From Jacques Prévert to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from Queneau to Mauriac, all together engaging in literary battles or hidden gossips but all had a friend they loved: Francis, the legendary barman of the Pont Royal Hotel.


While Curnonsky, the “prince of gastronomes” and Apollinaire were talking about gastronomy in a corner, the old Degas, almost blind was coming sometimes "to have some champagne bubbles". Ernest Hemingway came to shine while Jazz was becoming a real style. Malraux also adopted the bar when he was around, usually, bringing with him a different conquest while the famous Picasso and the young “famous-to-be” Dali meet and pretend not to know each other.



For those of you passionate about literature, the Pont Royal Hotel is not only the ideal place to stay in Paris but also the starting point to discover the streets of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés and walk in the footsteps of all those giants of the literature who used to live there for many years, before the area changed becoming the Saint-Germain-des-Prés we know today with all its fashion shops or the famous cafés such as the Café de Flore and the Deux Magots.


Back then, not only writers such as Arthur Miller, Eliot, Capote, Sartre, Camus, Saint-Exupéry, Chandler, Romain Gary and so many others used to stay at the Pont Royal Hotel but many other were neighbours and if we walk a little bit further, we will find James Joyce, again Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald but also Oscar Wilde, George Sand and many more.


Saint-Germain-des-Prés was where they all were and today you can easily walk through its streets, ignoring the mainstream history every single guide and pedestrian can tell you and instead, look up to discover countless inscriptions remembering all the great writers and artists who made Saint-Germain-des-Prés the capital of literature. Walking on the footsteps of Sartre, Beauvoir and Camus, you can discover the magnificent Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Fine-Arts grand school) established in 1817 where countless great artists studied (Bourdelle, Matisse, Monet, Moreau, Degas, Garnier, Géricault, Ingres, Renoir, Sisley and also artists such as Hubert de Givenchy), see where Picasso painted his masterpiece the Guernica and even Delacroix’s workshop (this one is now a museum and can be visited).


Then, within a walking distance, you can reach the French National Library where countless manuscripts and priceless books are held. Although it is very complicated to access the impressive manuscripts section of the Library, Ariodante can easily arrange for you a visit to open those closed doors for you by creating a unique travel experience to discover your favourite writers.

To find out more about the Delacroix Museum: HÔTEL PONT ROYAL OFICIAL WEBSITE

To find out more about the Delacroix Museum: DELACROIX MUSEUM WEBSITE




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