Julio Cortázar and Rayuela's Paris
05 October, 2014
Even the experts consider it an ‘antinovel’, there is no doubt that Rayuela influenced many generations since it was released and, because of it, Julio Cortázar became a literary benchmark whose centenary of his birth is celebrated this year. If Maga and this unparalleled adventure in Paris also fascinated you, our route through the French capital will help you remembering the most remarkable moments in Horacio Oliveira’s history.
"¿Will I find Maga? Many times I just had to look out coming by rue de Seine, the arch that takes you to Quai de Conti, and only the olive and ash light floating on the river let me distinguish the forms, its tiny shape by Pont des Arts, sometimes walking from side to side, sometimes stopped at the iron parapet, leaned against the water. And it was so natural to cross the street, ascend the steps on the bridge, get in the tiny waist and get closer to Maga smiling unsurprisingly, convinced like me that a chance encounter was the less casual in our life, and that people who arrange dates is the same that needs ruled paper to write each other or that pushes from the bottom the tooth paste”
Quai de Conti: The novel, like our route, starts at rue de Seine, Quai de Conti and Pont des Arts, places where Horacio y Maga met each other, with a special symbolism for the author considering the centric location of this part of the route that take us along the left side of Seine river. Our protagonist also mentions the library Mazarine, located at the other side of the arch and the most antique library in the country.
Pont des Arts: As a connection between Institut de France and Louvre (previously known as Arts Palace), you can find the centric iron bridge where Oliveira got drunk at the first part of the book. Now full of lockers promising everlasting love, the panoramic views over Cité island and all the bridges is one of the most beautiful pictures you can take of the city.
Louvre Museum: Even Rayuela is full of cultural references, when we are talking about visual arts Louvre museum is the only reference Cortázar gives us about this city on this field. The most visited arts museum in the world appears on our way after taking Pont des Arts. This place is a must to anyone because of its wide collection and masterpieces such as “La Gioconda” by Leonardo da Vinci and a stunning building including, since the 80s, a great glass pyramid that you should visit.
Rue du Jour: The latest partners of Horacio at the city, homeless people, feed themselves thanks to the soup dish that they receive here. By the church Saint Eustache, people in need receives food at this street, located at Les Halles, a gardened area right in the city centre where there are two more places we will pass by.
"Au chien qui fume" restaurant: Located at Rue du Pont Neuf, this is one of the cafés named at chapter 132 and is also a meeting point for Etienne and Horacio on the way to the hospital to visit Morelli. This is a typical French restaurant, with an elegant and traditional decoration and a careful cuisine selection. Following this street we find the next stop…
Pont Neuf: Even it name means new bridge, it’s completely the opposite, and it’s the oldest. Here we say goodbye to Horacio and Maga in this route. Made of arches, the bridge took almost 30 years on the making and during the 18th century it was the centre of crime and commerce in the city. Passing by the bridge we will go back to the left side of the Seine, where we will stay.
Rue Dauphine: Even it’s part of a dispensable chapter, Pola, Horacio’s French lover, lives in this street. The street starts after Pont Neuf, and it was named after France’s dauphine, Henri IV’s son.
Rue de la Huchette: This is another place where Horacio thinks his lover can be at. A must-visit pedestrian street with many famous places like the theatre Huchette and Caveau de la Huchette. We pass through from the boulevard Saint-Michel until we reach Rue du Petit-Pont, before we get to the Notre-Dame cathedral.
Notre Dame: Chance makes the protagonists meet again at this iconic landmark of the city, one of the most beautiful and most visited French gothic cathedrals, which was finished on 1345 and is located at the Cité island. Who hasn’t heard about Notre Dame and its famous hunchback? Either as the Quasimodo by Victor Hugo or by Disney, the gargoyles are part of the collective imaginary
Rue du Sommerard: The street where Horacio Oliveira lives and one of the oldest in the city, which during the Roman age took to the baths at Cluny. Next to the famous Saint-Germain Boulevard, Sommerand is nonetheless more relaxed and perfect to take a relaxed walk.
Rue Valette: This is a magic place for our protagonists, in one of the hotels here they consummate the relationship for the first time and here is also where Horacio took Pola. Rue Valette is at the quarter of Sorbonne University and follows the Rue de Carmes, the meeting point for students.
Rue Monge: One of the places where is believed Maga lived after separation and the death of his son Rocamadour. This is a important street located at the university area on the Paris district nº 5.
Rue Monsieur Le Prince: The incomprehensible chance also takes place at this street, which used to be a road and leads to the Edmond Rostand Square along the Saint-Michel Boulevard. Notice also that Polidor restaurant, where the story of Cortazar’s "62 A Model Kit" takes place, is also here. We pass by this place if we go to Odeon.
Rue l’Odéon: Remember here, with Horacio, parts of his relation with Maga, eating at Carrefour de l’Odeon and riding the bike by Montparnasse. The impressive Odeon theatre gives the name to this street and neighbourhood, full of life by night and day, where we can find all kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants. From here, take Saint-Sulpice Street to arrive to the next stop.
Rue de Tournon: This is the street where we walk back to Madame Trépat house, with Horacio. Even traditionally it was full of old bookstores, many luxury fashion shops moved here on the past few years. It’s one of the most prestigious streets, from the Senate and across Saint-Sulpice street, which lead us to the end of this route. Mario Vargas Llosa lived here too.
Montparnasse cemetery: The last stop in this route is also the location at the last chapter of Rayuela, where Horacio takes a little paper and also where Julio Cortázar was buried. At the hearth of Montparnasse neighbourhood, this was inaugurated on 1824 and is the second in the city, with many remarkable people resting here along with the author, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett or Jean Paul Sartre.
Image from Henri Marion
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.
05 October, 2014