Saint-Germain-des-Prés: the Paris neighbourhood that famous writers and artists loved[Photos + map]

There are many reasons to go to Paris. One of them is to stroll around Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This is the beloved neighbourhood of many writers, artists, and intellectuals of the past centuries: Voltaire, Rousseau, Marquis de Sade, Hugo, Hemingway, Ionesco, Joyce, Miller, Kerouac, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Picasso, and Brecht.

Are you dizzy yet?

I have been to Paris a few times, and even on day trips. I still remember though the very first time I was there, somewhere in the late September of 2016. I spent my Saturday sight-seeing, just to cross the main spots off my list, and decided to treat my Sunday as a free day. I already knew what I wanted to do: walk around Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

It was a cloudy day, but the rain didn’t make it to the ground until early in the afternoon. I started my stroll at Saint-Germain-des-Prés underground station (Line 4). As I exited, I immediately found myself in front of a very historic restaurant, Les Deux Magots, and already immersed into a different time period.

The rest you can enjoy in the photos below. And, in case you find yourself in Paris, feel free to use my Google map at the bottom of the post.

Shakespeare & Co – Although staff ask visitors not to take photos, I could not resist capturing this lovely corner.
Café Delmas – Previously called “Cafe des Amateurs” and, according to Hemingway, a “sad café”.
Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Pantheon – If you have heard of, or even better read, Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum”, pay a visit to Pantheon to see it in live action.
Le Polidor – A favorite spot for Hugo, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Hemingway, Ionesco, Joyce, Miller and Kerouac. Some scenes of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris were shot here.
Les Éditeurs – A beautiful café – restaurant, decorated with nearly 5,000 books, all said to be gifts by local publishing houses.
Le Procope – This is the city’s oldest café in continuous operation. Its clientele included names such as Voltaire, Rousseau, the Marquis de Sade, Beaumarchais, Balzac, Verlaine, Hugo, La Fontaine and Anatole France. Upstairs, as you turn left at the end of the stairs, you can see Voltaire’s marble desk (below).
74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine – Ernest Hemingway lived here, on the 3rd floor, with his first wife, Hadley, from January 1922 until August 1923.
Luxembourg Gardens – During the poorest days of his life, at the age of 25, Hemingway used to take hunger walks around the gardens, trying to save money by not eating. When he returned home, he would lie to his wife that he was asked out for lunch.
Le Pré aux Clercs – This was Ernest Hemingway’s favourite restaurant when he lived nearby, at the Hôtel d’Angleterre.
Rue Visconti – In this street, where the painter Eugène Delacroix lived for nearly ten years, Henry Miller used to teach his second wife, June, how to ride a bicycle.
42 Rue Bonaparte – Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir lived here from 1945 to 1962. They moved out when the house was twice bombed by paramilitaries as a response to Sartre’s stance against the french rule in Algeria.
Les Deux Magots – The meeting point of many 20th century intellectuals, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht.
Cafe de Flore – As author Adam Gopnik writes in his essay “A Tale of Two Cafes”, “The Flore was the center of far right-wing thought, and therefore Sartre and the others had to avoid it like the plague…. But then the tourists began to crowd into the Deux Magots in order to look at Sartre and de Beauvoir. The place became overcrowded, and eventually the intellectuals notices the emptiness of the Flore next door. By then the right-wingers were gone, and the intellectuals chose to remake the emptiness rather than abide with the many”. Among the famous customers were Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, Léon-Paul Fargue, Raymond Queneau and Pablo Picasso. In the later years, it was also frequented by Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.

Do you want to see these spots for yourself?

  1. Click on the star below
  2. Open Google Maps
  3. Go to Settings > Your Places > Maps
  4. You’re welcome!