A Guide to Hemingway’s Paris

From writing haunts to favorite bars, follow the ex-pat author’s steps through Paris

Hemingway in Paris
As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "Paris is a moveable feast." Here's how to explore the City of Lights on his terms. Wikipedia

Ernest Hemingway was a man of the world, and his global travels are well-reflected in his famous works. The Caribbean, Africa, America and Europe all hosted the famous writer at one point or another, but perhaps no location is as heavily associated with Hemingway as Paris. "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man," Hemingway once wrote, "then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." 

Hemingway moved to Paris with his first wife, Hadley, in 1921. The young couple lived in an apartment on the rue Cardinale Lemoine in Paris' 5th arrondissement. The apartment was sparse, with no running water and a bathroom that consisted of little more than a bucket. Hemingway rented another space, at 39 rue Descartes, where he did his writing.

During their time in Paris, the Hemingways became acquainted with other ex-pats living in the city. Composing the famous "Lost Generation," these artists, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Picasso and James Joyce, became central to Hemingway's growth as a writer.

The couple left Paris in 1923, when Hadley discovered she was pregnant with their first child. But their absence was short lived: after giving birth in Toronto, the couple brought their baby back to Paris in January of 1924. This second life in Paris ushered in one of Hemingway's most prolific creative periods, during which he wrote works such as The Sun Also Rises and Men Without Women. In 1927, Hadley divorced Hemingway after discovering his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, a fashion reporter. Hemingway and Pfeiffer married only a few months later and left Paris for Key West the following year.

​Even though nearly a century has passed since Hemingway lived and wrote in the streets of Paris, his unique version of the city remains: stroll through the windy avenues of the Left Bank, visit the Jardin Luxembourg or sit down at one of his favorite cafés to make Hemingway's Paris your own.

Hotel d'Angleterre

Ernest Hemingway and Hadley spent their first night in Paris together at the Hotel d'Angleterre, in room 14—and Ernest returned to the hotel many times after. The hotel still stands, and still allows guests to stay in room 14. Time Out Paris describes the room as "a pretty lemon and white affair, with marshmallowy pillows and comfy armchairs." Even better, the hotel is perfectly suitated in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a short walk from the cafés and bars Hemingway loved.

Hotel d'Angleterre: 44 Rue Jacob, Paris 75006; 42.60.34.72

Les Deux Magot

Located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Les Deux Magot was once the meeting place for Paris' literary elite, including Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Hemingway also frequented the café, and even used it as a setting for a meeting place in The Sun Also Rises. Nowadays, you'll find more tourists than literary minds sitting at the café's tiny tables, but it's the perfect place to enjoy people watching on the Left Bank over one of Hemingway's favorite cocktails, a daiquiri or martini.

Les Deux Magot: 6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006; +33 (0)1 45 48 55 25

Café de Flore

Hemingway spent a lot of time writing at Paris' charming cafés, so he didn't just stick to Les Deux Magot. Sometimes, he'd spend his afternoons working at another Saint-Germain-des-Prés café, Café de Flore. If you're lucky, you might experience a modern-day celebrity sighting while following in Hemingway's footsteps: Robert Deniro and Quentin Tarantino have been known to visit Café de Flore while in Paris.

Café de Flore: 172 Blvd. St.-Germain, 75006; +33 (0)1 45 48 55 26

La Closerie des Lilas

Moving out of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, check out La Closerie des Lilas, located near Hemingway's second apartment in Montparnasse.  Like Les Deux Magots, La Closerie became a watering hole for artistic and literary minds in Paris, and Hemingway went there often to write—he wrote most of The Sun Also Rises there. La Closerie des Lilas was also the first place where Hemingway read F. Scott Fitzgerald's manuscript of The Great Gatsby.

La Closerie des Lilas: 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse 75015; +33 (0)1 40 51 34 50

Jardin du Luxembourg

Also in Montparnasse is the Jardin du Luxembourg, where Hemingway would explore to experience nature in the city. When his family was wanting for money, he would sometimes hunt pigeons in the Jardin du Luxembourg, snapping their necks and hiding their bodies in his son's pram. You don't have to stalk pigeons to experience the Jardin du Luxembourg, however. Stroll around the grounds (it's the second largest public park in Paris) and admire the shaded alleys and fountains, or visit the Luxembourg Palace, which today houses the French Senate.

Jardin du Luxembourg: 6e Arrondissement, 75006; +33 (0)1 42 34 23 62.

Shakespeare and Company

Anyone fascinated with Hemingway—or any other early modernist English author—should take a trip to Shakespeare and Company, a historic bookstore near the Seine on Paris' Left Bank.

Started by American expat Sylvia Beach in 1919, the bookstore served as the center for English speaking writers and publishers in post-WWI Paris. Hemingway mentions the shop in his Paris memoir A Moveable Feast, writing, "In those days there was no money to buy books. I borrowed books from the rental library of Shakespeare & Company, which was the library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l'Odeon. On a cold windswept street, this was a warm, cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of books, new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living." 

Shakespeare and Company was also the first place to publish James Joyce's classic, UlyssesThe original shop closed in 1940, but a second location (the one you can visit today) opened in 1951. The only connection between the two stores, sadly, is the name, but the new location still pays homage to the literary tradition that the original shop once fostered.

Shakespeare and Company: 37 rue de la Bûcherie; +33-(0)1 43 25 40 93.

Harry's New York Bar

One of the bars Hemingway frequented was Harry's New York Bar, situated on Paris' Right Bank. The bar opened in 1911, near the Paris Opera, and served as a meeting place for expatriates in the city. The bar itself came from a Manhattan bar that Harry's original owner, jockey Tod Sloan, had owned previously. Sloan had the New York bar dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic to Paris—hence the bar's "New York" name (the "Harry's" came later, from a bartender who bought the bar from Sloan in 1923). Harry's is the birthplace of a number of famous cocktails, from the Paris 75 (gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar) to the Sidecar. It even claims to have invented the Bloody Mary.

Harry's New York Bar: 5 rue Daunou, 75002; +33 (0)1 42 61 71 14.