Paris Saint-Sulpice, Arcimboldo and le Café de la Mairie

Let’s say, for example, that you just get out Musée du Luxembourg after visiting the magnificent Arcimboldo exhibition. (I should advise you to make a reservation before noon or after 7.30 PM and avoid Wednesdays and winter vacations not to find exhibition rooms as crowded as a subway station at rush hour. But it’s definitely worth while.


It’s sunny outside, and what better path to get to Saint-Sulpice than l’allée des Séminaires, where you haven’t got a chance to meet a seminarist. It’s a quiet art deco garden along rue Bonaparte.


When you get place Saint-Sulpice, at first you might feel disappointed, for nowadays (November 2007) and likely for a few months, you won’t see much of it : a large tent covers the fountain during its restoration, and the church almost disappears under scaffoldings (north tower is being restored).

But there is still a place worthwhile visiting : at the corner of tiny but lively rue des Cannettes, Le Café de la Mairie and it’s sunny terrace are waiting for you.


The upstairs room was the setting of a long treacherous seduction scene by Fabrice Lucchini on Judith Henry in “la discrète“, a 1990 french film by Christian Vincent .

The bar is the theater of endless speeches and day dreamings, dimmed by tobacco and booth haze in Djuna Barnes master piece “Nightwood” (1937).

In 1974, October 18 at 10.30 am, French Oulipo author Georges Perec sat there with a notebook, a pen and some change, and kept watching around until October 20 , writing ” Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien”. (Attempt to be exhaustive about a Parisian place).


It’s a magic place, haunted by lovely ghosts, and it’s still a writers’ as well as a fashion addicts café.

Just sit down in the sun, rest and dream a while, have a drink and may be a fresh and nice snack.

Le Café de la Mairie, 8 place Saint-Sulpice 75006 Paris tel 33(0)143 26 67 82, open everyday 7 am to 2 am , Saturday 8 am to 2 am, Sunday 9 am to 9 pm.

Arcimboldo exhibition up to January 13, Musée du Luxembourg 19 rue de Vaugirard metro Saint-Sulpice : Monday, Friday, Saturday open 10.30 to 22, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10.30 to 19, Sunday 9 to 19. Tel : 33(0)1 45 44 12 90.

Reservation on :

If you haven’t read Djuna Barnes’ “Nightwood”, go to your bookshop or order it on

You’ll find many books by Georges Perec translated in english, but not “Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien” published in french by Christian Bourgeois.


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