Returning to Rue Rampon
The street, located in the 11th arrondissement near Republique Square, has changed very little from when I first visited in 1995. Some of the businesses on the ground floors have changed and the former Bel Air Hotel (where Martin, Diane, David and the teens on the summer trip check in) is now the upscale Le General. That's it at left.
Irène's apartment building. Her balcony is still full of flowers and, although you can't see it in this photo, the rooms still appear to be lined with bookcases. I really did want to ring the bell and say hello to who lives there, but how do you explain you've co-opted their home as the prime location of your book? Of course, my description of the building in the novel is slightly different – there's no flat roof, there's no business on the ground floor and Irène's balcony is bigger.
Despite that, walking along Rue Rampon brought back many memories and reignited my desire to finish the sequel. I also went back to Notre-Dame, the Left Bank and spent the morning in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris' botanical garden. A big scene in the sequel takes place in the garden, so I took my notebook and sketched out ideas and bits of dialogue while I was sitting there in the center of beautiful Paris.