Journal by Nicola Onions.
Paris is one of those places I have always wanted to visit because of the art and culture and it’s unique magic that it has for creatives. Watching and reading about Paris I knew that when I discovered it for the first time I would have to retrace the steps of these creative people and especially get to know the Paris that Ernest Hemingway lived in too. I wanted to photograph Hemingway’s Paris and capture his love of Paris in the photographs I brought back.
We followed Hemingway’s footsteps through the markets, café’s and bookshops. Bookshops like Shakespeare & Company which is bursting with books and has them stacked from the floor to ceiling. It’s a book lovers dream, you could spend hours in there. In the Latin Quarter, where Hemingway would discuss ideas with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are many places to eat and drink. In the spring sunshine we walked through Jardin du Luxembourg and watched children race boats on the pond. As well as walking in his shoes we wanted to see the Art Paris is so well known for, so we went to the Louvre and the Musée de l’Orangerie where Monet’s cycle of water-lily paintings, ‘Nymphéas' are on display. It’s amazing to me that all these great creative’s were alive at the same time, making work, sharing ideas and spending time together in this great city.
Not far from our hotel were the steps used in the Woody Allen film ‘Midnight in Paris’ where you can see all these people brought to life on the screen, I sat on the steps one night and waited for the bells to ring out 12 times and wished for an old car to whisk me away to the 1920’s, alas it did not come but I realised in that moment how special this place was to me.
Another way to embrace the creativity of this city and get an amazing view at the same time is to walk to the top of the hill Montmartre, not only does it have the beautiful Catholic Church, Sacré-Coeur but it has a market in the square with artists and street performers, here you could pick up a painting immediately as it was finished and some fresh peaches at the same time! We were particularly entertained by the man doing football tricks who went to extreme lengths to make sure the whole crowd could see him. Again you can surround yourself with the past as many artists including Dalí and Picasso had art studios here.
Once you have retraced the steps of someone like Hemingway you can feel the spirit of Paris and you can see how much the city effected them and how it inspired their work. When people talk about Paris being the most romantic city in the world I believe it is because of the place itself, for the feeling it creates, Paris is an idea, a way of living for creatives. That’s why they fall for Paris and why I did too.
“But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy” — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast