The Cafés Of Literature #2 - The Rotonde
Paris has got for quite a long time a rich literary reputation, enhanced by the fame of Rive Gauche and districts such as Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse. With this column The Cafés of Literature, we give you an insight on these cafés which have welcomed the greatest French writers through centuries. For this second article of The Cafés of Literature, we suggest you rediscovering La Rotonde, famous artistic and intellectual café situated in 105 Boulevard du Montparnasse.
When La Rotonde opens in 1903, it is the bar next door for workers, and it quickly turns into a painters' hotspot as they move from Montmartre down to Rive Gauche.
"Mountain climbing for the sake of mountain climbing, it is still the mountain, art on the summits. The rapins (an old slang French word to designate the eccentric painters of Montmartre or Saint-Germain with a bohemian style, in the 1920’s) are not comfortable anymore in the modern Montmartre which they find difficult to climb, crowded with fake artists, fanciful industrialists and random smokers of opium. In Montparnasse, on the contrary, we now find the real artists dressed in the American-style."
Apollinaire, June 1914, Paris-Journal.
There, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire was to be found in the years between two World Wars side by side with the French poet Blaise Cendrars and the painter Amedeo Modigliani. Rumour has it that Modigliani had a fondness for the bottle and was thrown out of a couple of bars before he decided to behave in a quite more civilized way at La Rotonde, where he ended up meeting his future wife, Jeanne Hébuterne.
No other place could claim to gather as many intellectuals, artists, marchants of paintings and muses, just like the famous Kiki, "queen of the Montparnos ", among whom her companion Man Ray who said that she was " irreproachable from head to toe".
"The taxi stopped in front of the Rotonde. No matter what café you ask a taxi driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde."
Hemingway - The Sun also Rises.