The Paris Café Historically Frequented By Literary Icons

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Paris is a great city to take in art, history, architecture, and food. There's truly nothing like spending a day wandering around the City of Lights and ending it with a decadent French meal. Equally wonderful, however, is stopping at a café to take a break from all that sightseeing. French café culture (the art of sitting, chatting, or relaxing with a coffee and a bite) is deeply ingrained in the city, and the practice dates back to the 1600s. Paris' Café Procope opened in 1686 and is considered the birthplace of the whole movement. 

Dozens of cafés popped up in response, and they became places where artists and intellectuals would meet to discuss their ideas. Many cafés in Paris are famous as a result. If you're looking to take in a bit of history with a meal, or coffee and pastry, several landmark cafés and bistros are still standing in Paris where you can do just that. However, if you're a book lover who'd like to sit at a café frequented by literary geniuses like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Simone de Beauvoir, or T.S. Eliot, then you might consider dining at Café Le Select.

Some Select History

During the 1920s, Paris was a hub for ex-pat artists from all over the world. Many of them knew each other, and these social circles were the stuff of legends. As Mary McAuliffe details in "When Paris Sizzled," the city drew a broad range of singular talents from Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali to Igor Stravinsky, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Josephine Baker, among many others. To be an artist in 1920s Paris was to be part of an elite club (later dubbed "The Lost Generation") of sparkling talent, and Café Le Select opened in 1925, right in the middle of the furor. 

The café still stands in its original location on Boulevard du Montparnasse in the 6th arrondissement on Paris' iconic left bank. Soon after opening, the café was frequented by some of the great literary minds of the day. The tables at Le Select were used for conversations between F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway (who lived around the corner), and even Simone de Beauvoir. If you're a lover of literature, this spot is a perfect place to stop for a meal or coffee and bask in the glow left by some of the greatest writers of the modernist era. 

Visiting Le Select

In addition to coffee and pastries, Le Select's menu boasts signature Parisian dishes like steak frites, sole meunière, French onion soup, and a classic French omelet. The restaurant includes a huge outdoor patio terrace and a picture-perfect corner location right where bustling Boulevard du Montparnasse meets quiet Rue Vavin. The café is known for its glowing neon sign and ideal location for getting you off your feet and doing some good people-watching. The location of the café makes it a perfect spot to fit into your Paris sightseeing trip, as Paris' 6th district is located right next to Le Jardin du Luxembourg and the Montparnasse Tower, one of the few places you can get a 360-degree view of the city. 

Le Select is a perfect place to stop for a light meal, snack, or pick me up during a day of sightseeing on the left bank, or to sit and relax during a quiet Parisian stay. If you're spending time in Paris without a huge to-do list, Le Select is a great place to simply be — whether that's reading, chatting, writing, drawing, or enjoying signature Parisian cuisine. Hemingway once referred to the café as "the soul of Montparnasse," and we can't disagree.