Thursday, March 23, 2006

What's left of Montparnasse

Between WW I and II, the Montparnasse area (14th arrondissement) used to be a hot spot for poets, intellectuals and artists to meet. Now, in my opinion, it has lost its soul and is barely worth a visit. If you go there, however, make sure you don't miss La rue de la Gaité where many theaters are to be seen, like Le théâtre Montparnasse that I photographed here and La rue Montparnasse where you can eat the best crepes of Paris (try Josselin first if you can find a table...).


  1. Hey - that's my name (basically!) I don't know if I'll make it there or not, but I love this photo. It has a really nostalgic feel.

  2. G'day from Australia Eric !
    Fantastic work and defenitely something for the far far away from Paris (not the blond one) lovers. Living something like 20'000 km from la ville des Lumières makes the flavor of it so ... aaaah ... just having seen the picture of the two coffee cups makes me salivate.
    I came across via so a big thank you to Loïc for his post.

  3. Ah Eric, aren't you being a little hard on the area? I agree, it probably is a bit soul-less these days, but there's La Coupole for good choucroute (saurkrout), Le Petit Journal for excellent Jazz, and of course you can't miss the Marché Parisien de la Creation (Art market)
    every Sunday!

  4. La Coupole est bien trop chère... I was very disappointed in the remnants of Montparnasse.

    Lovely pic.

  5. I can almost see Ernest Hemingway leaning out of the window.

  6. >lagatta - I don't think it's that expensive, but it has become touristy. You can still find a good Schlumberger wine on the menu, which isn't the case everywhere.

    There are lots of other little restaurants nearby that are still quite good, but unfortunately, I can't think of their names.

    And yes michelle, Ernest is still everywhere in the area, but I imagine younger people will forget all about him and the other writers in future generations and may not link them to the area.

  7. Thanks for the tips, Eric. Next time I'm in Paris I'll make sure to have one (or two, or more... :)) of the best crepes of Paris!

  8. I am sure you people have, or will notice, that rue de la gaité is not only the street of the theatres but most of the passers-by I observe each day in this street notice first the sex-shops before the theatres and also the many japanese restaurants.
    Try also the "plomb du cantal" (name of a montain) it will really be as heavy as lead in youy stomach.

  9. Paris has changed so much just in the 20 years I've been here, so I can imagine what the changes were since before the war!

  10. I saw that play (le Caiman) and the other day I saw Claude Rich on the street.
    La Coupole is not just touristy. You see a lot of Parisians there.
    The only thing I do not like about that part of town is the TOWER other than that it has everything Paris has to offer, food, history, a "good" cemetary and the most crepe restaurants per street in Paris (Les Bretons venant travailler a Paris autrefois se sont installes la).
    I love rue Vavin and rue Notre Dame des Champs with the Lucernaire.

  11. > Buzzgirl. What do you mean this is your name? Are Mrs Montparnasse?!

    > OzMargot. Hello to the land down under. Yes, we're far away but thanks to PDP, you can be in Paris within the blink of an eye...

    > Michael. I may be a little hard you're right... Why are you such a Montparnasse ambassador?!

    > Eileen. OK... I agree!

    > Lagatta. 100% agreed.

    > Michelle. Yeah, well, I think he would freak out if he came back today...

    > Bazainville. Yes! The "Josselin special" is to die for...

    > Nicola. And I have no shares in Josselin's creperie! It's an honest advice.

    > Julien. You're so right... But I tried not to mention those. Not tha I am against sex shops but I think the belong better to Pigalle...

    > Sam. Yes it did a lot and it changing even more at the moment. I will explain soon why.

    > A photographer. I love the rue Vavin also - and its mosaic building that you probably know. But it does not really belong Montparnasse in my eyes, more the Luxembourg area.

  12. Michael, I truly hope younger generations wont forget the great people of history. It makes me so sad when people my own age (24) have no clue what I'm talking about when I mention something historicaly significant, such as just the other day I was disgussing how CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein were part of a club of fellow writers and whatnot because my husband was saying something to the effect of "I wonder if the writer of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' knew about [such and such] in 'Lord of the Rings?'" (He hasn't even read 'Lord of the Rings,' he's only seen the movies.) lI hope I can pass on my love of history to my son, but I've always feared that anything before 1990 will be totaly lost to his generation.

  13. I understand your feelings Eric and I also prefer to see theatres (like the one on your pictures where I recently saw a great play about the big changes in Algeria in 1962 named ...1962) than sex factories...

  14. In June I'll be taking a group of 40 twelve year old Scottish kids to Paris - don't think we'll be heading to Montparnasse, although the view from the Tower is pretty spectacular. I'm looking forward to them opening their eyes as some of my kids have never left Edinburgh before!

  15. Eric, I'm not such a big montparnasse ambassador, but feel like it is a quartier all its own. I agree, I love rue Vavin and Notre Dame des Champs as well. There are a few great places around there that people pass by on their way to the Luxembourg Gardens without ever noticing.

  16. The other thing missing now in Montparnasse is the glacier Calabrese. He was on rue d'Odessa. I really enjoyed his glace. When he retired, his son didn't want to continue the business and it closed.

    I once spent a delightful afternoon there with two friends.I think we must have had one scoop of everything he made. He could tell that we were completely enjoying ourselves, mangeant comme les vaches. We in turn could see that he was pleased that we were so much enjoying his glaces.

  17. Like Michael, I love the rue Vavin area. I always stay in this area and in fact, I just returned from a week in Paris. You are right though, the best crepes ARE on rue Montparnasse. I love your blog and catching up on the posts from this last week has made me "homesick" for my cafe. Thanks for your lovely pictures.