- ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?
Fill in your credentials below.
It’s subtle but your eye will catch it, a trompe-l’oeil—a shadow of a tree that seems silk-screened on this narrow stone building on rue de Chevreuse, and the sign, a scripted A, a simple evocation of the printed word to which this boutique hotel pays homage. Hemingway, Henry Miller, Jean-Paul Sartre, Cocteau, and Simone de Beauvoir once traipsed along these quiet side streets off boulevard du Montparnasse to meet with their editors; this is, after all, the heart of Paris’s publishing district. Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso, Soutine, and Fujita created mythic works in the neighborhood’s light-filled ateliers.
Isabelle Lozano calls Apostrophe a “Poème hotel,” inspired, she says, by Prévert’s “l’inventaire,” which speaks to inventing your life. All 16 rooms of this 18th-century building pay homage to self-expression. The hotel is also Isabelle’s personal triumph, born as it was from the detritus of an earlier hotel in which Madame Defarge would have felt at home. The massive renovation mustered the talents of local artists, writers and designers and in the process the hotel arrived at its theme: creativity and the senses. Each floor is dedicated to an aspect of the arts: Writing, Calligraphy, Painting; my favorite is the Travel Diary Room. Its headboard is a whimsical lithograph, commissioned by Isabelle, with scripted diary entries about Paris.
Apostrophe is an intelligently crafted hotel. Each room is distinct, each has plenty of cupboards, but the rooms are small. “If you are from Texas this is not the hotel for you,” Isabelle laughs. It is also not a hotel for the modest: showering within view of your mate comes with the territory. There is the usual discreet toilet closet, but most showers (ultra modern and with the force of a rain storm) or baths are within the room. Shower products are aromatherapies, and the towels are abundant. There are five larger rooms with a jacuzzi whirlpool bath. Those on the fifth floor have fabulous views of the rooftops of Paris.
This is a residential neighborhood of bookstores, cafes, and theaters. At the corner of rue de Chevreuse you will find the famed bookstore Tschann. Next door, Chez Fernand (budget lunch specials) is the canteen of some of today’s best-known writers. So is La Closerie des Lilas, five minutes’ walking distance. There are dozens of eateries, but just a few paces from the hotel is the Luxembourg Garden and with a location like this I chose a goat cheese sandwich from the artisan baker La Tradi on rue Notre Dame des Champs and lunched by the fountain in the garden.
Rue Notre Dame des Champs is a fête of culture, shopping and bakeries. There’s an atelier that offers classes in painting with live models, a pet store (yes, a 20-pound bag of Purina is about $70 in France) and farther down the street you’ll come to what looks like a student cafe and a stone arcade. Here in this cave-like setting there’s an inexpensive casual restaurant and le Lucernaire, a magical theater where I caught the one-woman show “Simone de Beauvoir: La ballade de Simone.”
Cross the boulevard du Montparnasse and boulevard Raspail and you will come to the vast walled cimetière du Montparnasse. You can spend hours in this garden memorial to France’s legends including Colette, Samuel Beckett, Serge Gainsbourg, Sartre, Marguerite Duras, Man Ray and Guy de Maupassant. The gallery at the nearby Fondation Cartier in a huge transparent building itself is worth a look. Along the way to the cemetery I made one of those only-in-Paris discoveries: a tiny, nearly hidden cobbled street called le Passage d’Enfer that reels you back to the 18th century. Yet only a few blocks further you enter the Montparnasse entertainment district in the 14th arrondissement with its wild cabarets and night life.
Apostrophe’s website does not do justice to its charm, so call and talk to Isabelle. She speaks perfect English and has a great instinct for placing people in just the right room. Also ask her about the best macaron shops in the neighborhood!
Subscribe for FREE weekly newsletters with subscriber-only content.
BonjourParis has been a leading France travel and French lifestyle site since 1995.
Readers’ Favorites: Top 100 Books, imports & more at our Amazon store
Before you go, a few books to help you plan your ideal visit…click on an image for details.
Thank you for using our link to Amazon.com…we appreciate your support of our site.