Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1988) and Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), are two intellectuals who had a major impact on the literary, philosophical, and political scene in the 20th century. They both lived in the Montparnasse neighbourhood they loved so much, and they are both at eternal rest in the nearby Montparnasse cemetery.
“I feel at home in Montparnasse.
Before the war, I lived for a long time
in a little furnished hotel,
the Hotel Mistral,
which is still there on Rue Cels,
between the Montparnasse Cemetery
and Avenue du Maine.”.
In 1941-1942, she was back at the hotel
she enjoyed so much. Several times in her novels,
and especially in “Letters to Sartre”,
she mentions the Hotel Mistral:
… « ( I am happy this morning, my love.
I thought happily of the moment
when I’ll find you at the station…
we’ll go to the Hotel Mistral, isn’t that right?
We’ll be so happy! »
(Saturday, December 30, 1939).
The building that is occupied today by the Hotel Mistral was built
after the Rue Cels was opened in 1850.
From 1790 to 1850, this small neighbourhood was mainly ocupied
by the major horticultural operations created by Jacques Martin Cels (1743-1806), which was directed in turn by his sons and grandsons.
Their collection of some 4000 different species of plants
came from all over the world.
Some of the species in this garden were described by botanist Etienne Pierre Ventenat and illustrated by painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté in the work “Description of new and little known plants cultivated in the garden of J.M. Cels”, published in 1799. A second volume appeared in 1803 entitled “Choice of plants, most of which are cultivated in the Cels garden” A passionate grower and botanist, J.M. Cels became a member of the Academy of Sciences (the Institut) in 1795.