Quest For 18 Villa Seurat
The Villa Seurat street--in the 14th arrondisement--is tiny and easy to miss. I did a few circles in the neighbourhood trying to find it. Once I hit the rue des Artistes, I thought for sure Villa Seurat would be nearby. After a while, I even thought that, perhaps, Villa Seurat had been renamed the appropriate "rue des Artistes" (besides Miller, artiists like Dali and Soutine have also lived there). I took a rest and scrutinized the circle I'd made on my internet-printed map. I cross-referenced with the map in my Paris travel book, but it hadn't even bothered to include Villa Seurat.
Finally, my eyes halted at the Villa Seurat street sign. I must have smiled -- it was an exciting moment. [my photograph of the entrance to rue Villa Seurat from rue de la Tombe Issoire is below]. #18 stands out like a white bone on muddy ground. I have to admit, it wasn't what I was expecting. It looked too nouveau, too modern for the romantic conceptions I had in my head of Henry Miller's important Paris address. I even doubted that I had the right place. I think I expected something older, more ornate, more classically Parisian.
Once I finally decided that this was indeed the destination of my pilgrimage, I let it all sink in. All of the fragments of images from Miller's works and life became vivid in my mind's eye; at least as tangible as very convincing ghosts. Miller walked through this space of air, I thought to myself (come on, you've had one of these petty personal moments too, admit it). I was especially transfixed by the cobblestoned street, imagining Miller and Nin on a night stroll, hand in hand; Miller coming home with a drunken stagger; Miller and Durrell pausing to debate on the street (so intense was the line of dialogue that one could not walk and think at the same time).
I stood in front of #18, looking up at the windows. I wasn't bold enough to knock on the door ("C'est qui? Un autre maudit touriste!"). In fact, I half-expected an irate Frenchman with a pitchfork to drive me away from their quiet little lane (which is clearly marked as "private.") I stole away maybe 15 minutes in total, in silent contemplation, then finally retreated past the rows of Citrons and explored the rest of the quaint neighbourhood.
Read the Millerwalks.com entry on Villa Seurat, which includes its location on a map and a tour of other Miller spots in the neighbourhood.
Read Cecily Mackworth's account of 18 Villa Seurat.
If anyone else has made this visit, please feel free to add your anecdote in my Comments section.