Posts Tagged ‘Vian’
St. Germain, the one-time suburb of Paris, was once as distinguished in art and culture as Montmartre, which was considered the Mecca of thriving, starving, and struggling bohemian painters and artists. In fact, Saint Germain can boast of such a diverse collection of heritage houses, pubs and cafes, that the memorable Montmartre often gets overshadowed by its brilliance.
The area is known to have some extremely notable buildings, including the Cour du Commerce St-André, the Cour de Rohan, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, the Institut de France, the Palais Abbatial, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the Théâtre National de l’Odéon and the famed St-Germain-des-Prés church.
In recent times, several renowned French politicians have studied at the National d’administration here, and this includes the former President Jacques Chirac. Even the prime instrument of decapitation that was linked to the French Revolution, namely the Guillotine, was perfected by its maker at 9 Cour de Commerce St-Andre, which is a notable avenue that is situated in St. Germain.
The end of WW2 gave birth to new world outlook, and boulevard St. Germain became the intellectual epicenter of French culture. The Nobel Laureate and internationally famed philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre and his equally famous consort, Simon de Beauvoir, along with Juliette Greco (the muse de St-Germain-des-Pres) and Albert Camus propagated their theory of existentialism, sipping coffee at the Deux Magot, the Café de Flore and the Brasserie Lipp, which was also a favorite haunt of François Mitterrand, another French President. Incidentally, Le Procope, the Paris’ oldest continuously-operating restaurant, is also here. Voltaire and the Encyclopédistes met here and helped launch the Enlightenment. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson also sipped an exotic new beverage called coffee here.
Saint Germain today has lost some of the intellectual luster it once had. It has since become a shopping street where you can find some well-known stores like Rykiel and Armani. The nightlife is active here, and there are political and intellectual gatherings too. But the “scene” has since moved on.