Instead, take the rue de la Huchette east off the place and follow it across rue du Petit Pont into rue de la Boucherie. Here, sandwiched in a row of sixteenth-century houses, leaning at all angles, is Pariss most interesting foreign bookshop, Shakespeare & Company. Though it isnt the original shop run by Sylvia Beach throughout the 1920s and 30s at which Hemingway, Joyce, Henry Miller, Ezra Pound and others were regular visitors, it continues the tradition of personal and idiosyncratic service. George Whitman, the current owner, has surrounded himself with books, on shelves so precariously balanced you feel that if you took out the wrong volume it could bring the entire shop crashing about your ears. He has sleeping accommodation for visiting writers and serves tea on Sundays.
Walk across to the Seine and turn west along the quai des Grands Augustins. Hemingway liked to browse here among the bouquinistes, the second-hand booksellers whose dark green metal boxes are clamped to the stone walls of the embankment. Even on a quiet day, with less than a third of them open, I found their esoterica utterly beguiling everything from ancient leather-bound treatises on medicine to magazines with names like Fetish Girls, back copies of the Revue Naturiste, old postcards, prints of tropical butterflies and even a copy of Hotspur comic for February 1946 "Trained by Tick-Tock Tacklers A Dazzler Drake Story." You may well be entertained while browsing by a lone saxophonist playing moody jazz on the towpath below, the sound enclosed and amplified by the stone walls on either side, until the lights change and the next wave of traffic drowns him out.
When you get a chance, dive across the road and seek the quiet of rue des Grands Augustins, passing on the left No.7, a fine example of a Left Bank townhouse, or hotel as they call them, complete with wide stone gates and an internal courtyard for horse and carriages. This was Picassos studio for many years it was where he painted Guernica and where the Hemingways met up with him in 1946.
Central Paris must have the cleanest streets in the world. Water is sluiced down the gutters twice a day, garbage collected daily and at several points on the walk you will doubtless come across the green men of the Propreté de Paris, scrubbing streets and hosing rubbish bins with a thoroughness Lady Macbeth would be proud of. Which is why its surprising that rue des Grands Augustins is so rich in graffiti. Maybe it merely emphasizes that these are still working streets, full of shops, small businesses, laundromats, hair stylists and people going to and from their apartments.
Turn right on St-André-des-Arts, and cut through to rue Jacob, a long straight street full of elegantly displayed antiques. Keep your eyes peeled for an open doorway that might reveal some of the fast-disappearing old courtyards. At the junction with rue Bonaparte is the Café Pré aux Clercs, a Hemingway favorite, which is only a few doors down from the Hotel dAngleterre where he spent his first night in Paris, in Room 14 (still available for 1,000F a night), and opposite the bar/restaurant Aux Assassins with its resolute disdain for the "thatll do nicely" approach: "Pas de Réservations, Pas de Cartes de Crédit, Pas de Café, Pas de Téléphone."
On a noisy junction at the end of rue Jacob is the Brasserie lEscorailles, an establishment you might, quite justifiably, ignore, but which, in the 1920s, was the highly fashionable Michauds, the restaurant where Hemingway pressed his nose to the window to watch James Joyce and his family eating and all talking Italian and where Scott Fitzgerald confided in Hemingway that he was worried about the size of his penis. Hemingway took him into the toilet, studied it and reassured him there was nothing to worry about. The only reason for spending any time here now is to visit what may well be the remains of the original loo it has an Art Deco inlaid glass door, an old-fashioned squat toilet and graceful iron cistern. (But if someone claiming to be Scott Fitzgerald asks you to go in there and check the size of their willy, remember he died in 1940.)
Up rue des Sts-Péres, passing on your left the Faculty of Medicine whose brutal neo-Fascistic facade seems to match the equally alienating swirl of smoke and noise as cars and bikes rev up the hill beside you. Boulevard St-Germain is equally busy, but wider and accommodates the traffic better. Along to the left are the well-visited cafés of Deux Magots and Flore. Though the roadside tables are the most popular, you must go inside for the period atmosphere and best-looking decor. The first floor of Café de Flore is especially recommended.
If you dont want to pay to enjoy the passing scene on the boulevard, there is a small waiterless haven on the corner of the rue des Sts-Péres called square Taras-Cheutchenko, which is a perfect place to meet, read or try and fold up your map.