In the footsteps of Camus
On the centenary of the birth of Nobel Prize Winner Albert Camus, Zoë McIntyre takes a stroll around some of his favourite Paris haunts
The Algerian-born French novelist, dramatist, journalist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus was born 100 years ago in November. Visitors to Paris can mark the centenary by visiting his old haunts.
Start by taking a morning stroll along Rue de Ravignan in the heart of Montmartre, where Camus first stayed when he arrived in Paris from colonial Algeria in March 1940, just months after the outbreak of war. He began writing
and worked as a journalist for the newspaper Paris-Soir.
Head across to the Left Bank and visit the Hôtel Madison on Boulevard Saint-Germain with its views of the Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés where Camus stayed later in the spring of 1940. He completed his famous existentialist novel L’Étranger in room 65. If you want to stay, the four¬star hotel has rooms from €230 (tel: (Fr) 1 40 51 60 00, www.hotel-madison.com).
Track down 5 Rue Saint-Benoît in Saint-Germain-des-Prés where Camus served as a look-out for a Resistance cell that met at the house of French writer Marguerite Duras during the Nazi occupation. He went on to become editor of the clandestine newspaper Combat. Stop for lunch nearby at one of Camus’s favourite hangouts. The post-war literary set that included Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir gathered at Brasserie Lipp and Café de Flore, both on Boulevard Saint-Germain, and Café La Palette on Rue de Seine.
Pass the afternoon perusing the bookshelves of the Librairie Gallimard at 15 Boulevard Raspail in the 7th arrondissement. The bookshop is affiliated to the Gallimard publishing house, which employed Camus in 1943 and later published his writings.
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To round off the tour, spend the evening reliving one of Camus’s greatest passions: the theatre. During his lifetime, Camus adapted texts for productions in Paris as well as directing and acting in the plays. Choose between the Théâtre Hébertot in the 17th arrondissement, where his play Les Justes premiered in 1949, and the Théâtre des Mathurins in the 8th,where in 1956 he presented an adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel Requiem for a Nun.