A Moveable Feast was actually the first Hemingway I ever read, at the grand old age of 25, for a book club in Paris. It completely spoiled me and I've since read two of his other works, but struggled with them and generally had less of a pleasurable time. It's Paris though isn't it? More precisely, Paris in the 1920s (the Belle Epoque) - not only is Hemingway nostalgic, but so is the reader (at least this one sat here currently writing this post).
A few weeks ago I took part in a walking tour called Hemingway's Paris, led by Paris Walks. The walk starts at Métro Cardinal Lemoine in the 5th arrondissement of Paris and lasts around 2 hours. The 5th holds a special place in my heart, and even more so after learning a little about Hemingway's relationship with the same neighbourhood. You see, before JB and I moved last year, we lived close to the 5th and it was there we had our first drink as a couple. I may also have spent a few drunken evenings with friends on Rue Mouffetard (Kabanitos anybody?) but I don't need to go into anymore detail about that, I digress.
The tour took us up the rue Cardinal Lemoine and into a cute courtyard, where we were shown the apartment that James Joyce wrote in. The bookstore Shakespeare and Company features prominently in Hemingway's Paris - the owner at that time, Sylvia Beach, was a generous patron of Hemingway and his contemporaries such as Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Joyce and Ford Madox Ford, lending them both books and money. If you haven't been to the bookstore, you should because it is incredibly charming.
Scenes from "Midnight in Paris" came back to me as we headed towards the Panthéon, stopping in at the Church Saint Etienne du Mont (featuring the very stairs on which Owen Wilson was sitting when the Rolls Royce turned up and transported him back to 1920s Paris). It was incredible to have the time to walk around Paris, take pictures and appreciate the beauty of the city that I live in. The daily grind can contribute to a certain forgetfulness as to why you ever moved somewhere in the first place, and therefore the city in which you live loses its excitement and freshness. Moments like this however help you to step back and appreciate your environment - or is that just me?
I thought the tour was a great introduction to Hemingway and the Paris of his time - having read A Moveable Feast however, I don't feel like I personally learnt anything new. The tour is ideal if you're visiting Paris and want interested in seeing the places Hemingway frequented, it's definitely well worth it. It inspired me to get my copy off the shelf however and reacquaint myself with Hemingway's Paris. Why don't you do the same and let me know what you think? After all, these darker evenings make for the perfect opportunity to curl up on your sofa with a good book and a cup of tea. Enjoy !