|Entrance (stress on second syllable)|
That goes for me to. I share Connolly's love for 'the discreet and many folded strata of the old world' and have, on the strength of his eulogy, stayed at the Louisiane perhaps half a dozen times - alone and with others. Situated in a quiet street a few yards from the noisy bustle of Saint-Germain-des-prés it manages to be at the heart of the district yet not part of it - a self-contained backwater and a refuge for the jaded flâneur.
It's shabby but clean, a labyrinth of narrow passages and stairwells and shuttered windows overlooking a street market. It's best to stay in one of the three large circular corner rooms (known as 'les Rondes') lit by external neon signs, splashing their depraved light across the bedroom ceiling. It's a lovely, atmospheric and reassuringly cheap place to stay. Some guests live there year round.
Apart from Connolly, illustrious former residents include Sartre and de Beauvoir (during the Occupation), visiting jazzmen Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker and Archi Sheep (as he's called on the Louisiane's website). Resident writers were Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Henry Miller and Boris Vian, whose brother until recently lived around the corner above a tiny shop selling restored antique musical instruments.
Lucian Freud's superb double portrait (look it up as it's no doubt copyright) shows the artist standing at what is likely to be a window of the Louisiane, gazing with sinister intensity at his wife, the aristocratic beauty Caroline Blackwood. Connolly, of course, was infatuated with her. She later married the poet Robert Lowell, who described her as 'a mermaid who dines upon the bones of her winded lovers'. Lowell died from a heart attack on the back seat of a New York City taxi in 1977, accompanied by the Freud portrait.