Top Literary Travel Destinations - Part 1
It’s summer - and that means summer holidays! Whether you are planning a two-week break or just a weekend getaway, why not seek out some literary inspiration for your travels? Walk in the footsteps of your favourite writers and soak up the sites that inspired their great works of literature.
Even though most of these authors lived a long time ago, they have left their stamp on some of the world’s most beautiful travel spots.
Read on for our guide to my top literary travel trips!
- F. Scott Fitzgerald - Côte D’Azur
As one of the 1920s “bright young things”, Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda frequented one of the hottest locales of their day - namely the Cote D’azur. With their coterie of fashionable friends, such as Jean Cocteau and Man Ray, they made France’s Mediterranean coastline the place to be.
The couple journeyed to the area so that Scott could write his next book and they could live their lavish lifestyle more cheaply than stateside. They rented a cozy villa in the small town of St-Raphaël. Fitzgerald enjoyed spending time with his friends in the nearby Cap D’Antibes, with Hotel Cap Eden-Roc becoming their hang-out spot.
This time and their friends there would become fictionalised as Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald’s novel of an American expatriate couple whose marriage slowly dissolves under the weight of their frivolous lifestyle on the Riviera.
Travellers today can still enjoy some of the sites that inspired this Jazz Age holiday destination - and they are just as beautiful as in 1922. Why not rent a car and recreate Fitzgerald’s scenic cliff-top drive down to Cap D’Antibes? And if you can’t stretch to a room at the very ritz-y Hotel Cap Eden-Roc (rooms start at $500 a night), you can still enjoy a drink at the bar or a meal at their Michelin starred restaurant.
As in it’s hey-day, Antibes is the place to people watch. Post up at the glitzy art-deco Bar Fitzgerald and watch the Cote D’Azur’s wealthy summer residents mingle over fancy cocktails. Or if you get tired of the tourist traps, take a stroll down the shady streets of Old Antibes, where you can shop fresh produce at a weekly covered market.
And of course, there’s the famous azure blue waters. It is still possible to find an unspoilt patch of sand from which to spread a beach towel and enjoy one of Fitzgerald’s novels - the perfect beach read.
You might stay, however, at the much more affordable Hotel Belles-Rives in Juan-Les-Pins, a glamorous villa that was once the Fitzgerald’s home for a summer.
Whether you ramp up the glamour a la Zelda and Scott or keep it more low key, you’re sure to have a novel-worthy trip.
2. Jane Austen - Bath, England
In Austen’s time, Bath was the place to be - the holiday destination of England’s fashionable high society. Jane herself lived in the spa town for several years, and many of the characters in her novels enjoyed sojourns to the town. Bath was really in it’s heyday in Austen’s time. Known for its spectacular regency architecture, walking down Bath’s streets is like stepping into one of her novels.
For the true Austen fan, there is a myriad of Austen-themed attractions and events. Every autumn, Bath holds the Jane Austen Festival, a ten-day literary events with immersive experiences such as tours, concerts and talks.
For the more casual reader, spend a day in Jane’s shoes by visiting an authentic Regency tea room, sampling Bath’s famous Sally Lunn buns, followed by afternoon tea at the site of Austen’s favourite spot, the Sydney Hotel (now the Holbourn museum). Browse the haberdashery shops that Jane liked to frequent on Milsom Street, still a popular spot for gifts and holiday souvenirs.
Why not finish the evening off with “Gin High Tea’ at Circo Bar & Lounge? Surely Jane would have approved!
You can even stay at one of a number of hotels with Austen-themed rooms, such as The Jane Austen Room at Bailbrook House - the price tag might be steep but why miss the chance to sleep in a four-poster like a Regency lady would have?
Bath is also known for it’s mineral-rich waters, also a draw in Austen’s day. If you need a break from literary Bath, why not indulge in a few hours at one of their five-star day spas?
Austen’s characters love to escape to Bath for a restorative rest and relax. You won’t regret following in their footsteps.
3. Ernest Hemingway - Paris
Paris might not be the most original travel destination, but why not see it through the eyes of American writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived there as an expatriate journalist?
Ernest and his wife Hadley did not have much money between them at this point in their lives, as he bemoaned in his classic memoir A Moveable Feast - but that didn’t hold them back from enjoying the city to its fullest 1920s potential. It was really the place to be - his contemporaries for his few short years there included Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and many other art and literary stars.
While Hemingway lived in a modest apartment on Rue Cardinale Lemoine in the Latin Quarter, he spent his days writing in the cafes of Saint-Germain - which are still there to this day. Have a beer as Hemingway would have at Café de Flore and watch the world go by.
Montparnasse was where all the American expats of Hemingway’s day lived, and their legendary hang-outs are still there, such as Les Closerie de Lilas, where Ernest wrote most of Sun Also Rises. It is now has a charming, shady terrace that could be a most relaxing spot to while away a few hours.
While Hemingway might have worked away the days in the bohemian enclave of Montparnasse, his idea of heaven was the Paris Ritz. It was his first stop when back in Paris, and where his on-and-off friend F.Scott Fitzgerald and him would drink champagne together. It is now named Bar Hemingway in his honour. It is also partly responsible for the fact that A Moveable Feast even exists today - he left a trunk full of his notebooks and diaries of his years in Paris there in 1926, only for it to be rediscovered upon his return to the Ritz in 1956.
If you’ve run out of places to eat and drink, why not walk it off in the Jardins de Luxembourg? This was Hemingway’s tiny slice of nature where he would walk his infant son.
Photo by esartee/Flickr
And a tour of Hemingway’s Paris would not be complete without a visit to Shakespeare and Company, the famed English-language bookstore on the Left Bank. An impoverished Hemingway would borrow books from their lending library and took shelter from a chilly and wet Paris by their cozy, wood-burning stove.
Where to spend the night? Hemingway and Hadley’s first night in Paris was spent at Hotel D’Angleterre, still a comfortable 3-star hotel in the 6th Arrondissement.
Paris might be a tourist Mecca, but there is always something new to discover.
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