Jim Morrison in Paris
Paris and l'Hôtel de Médicis
In the fall of 2001 I was in Paris. My approach is to look for the place at the very bottom of what Lonely Planet is willing to mention. In Paris this was l'Hôtel de Médicis (214 Rue St. Jacques, Métro: Luxembourg). It wasn't until much later that I realized that I very nearly stayed in Jim Morrison's room! Not the same room where he stayed, but a very similar one just upstairs. I was on a trip from southern England across France and had already visited Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel.
The owner of jimsroom.com found this page and explained:
"I stumbled upon your website with the photos of the Hôtel de Médicis, and yes he did stay there for a couple of weeks not long before he died. However, the room in which you stayed is not the room in which Jim Morrison stayed. Jim was in room 4 which is on the first floor after you go up the stairs from the office. The room in which you stayed, judging from the green sink (there is only one in the hotel) is most likely room 20 which is on the third floor all the way to the end of the corridor on the right, last door, courtyard." Yes, that's the room I had.
The jimsroom.com site is no longer up, it was promoting a play titled "Jim's Room". But you can see what it used to look like with the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.
However, I was able to compare an image of the view from Jim's actual room, once available on that site, with the below image of the view from my room. See the discussion below to verify the above conclusion.
Of course, this page describes and shows what I experienced back in 2001. By 2009 the historic l'Hôtel de Médicis was gone. The building had been completely gutted out and a new luxury hotel built within the original façade. Nothing beyond the technicality of a specific street address remains from 1970.
Below is what the hotel looked like in 2005
See the wonderful book Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, which accompanied an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. They used high-resolution versions of some of my pictures in its chapter on the Hôtel de Médicis.
|Chronology of Jim Morrison's Time in Paris|
|June 20-24, 1970||
Jim stayed at
Hôtel George V
(31 Ave George V, Métro: George V).
Departure approximate, described as "about 4 days later".
Jim stayed one week at
l'Hôtel de Médicis.
Date approximate, described as after "more than a week in Morocco" and some time in Spain after leaving Paris on or about June 24th.
|March 11, 1971||Jim returned to Paris. His girlfriend Pamela Courson was staying at the Hôtel Georges V.|
|March 18, 1971||Jim and Pamela moved to an apartment on the third floor at Rue Beautreillis 17.|
|May, 1971||Jim and Pamela stayed for a few days at l'Hôtel (13 Rue des Beaux Arts) in a room on the second floor because their apartment was being used by some friends of a French model with whom they shared it. The room they occupied was the one in which Oscar Wilde died.|
|May, 1971||Jim and Pamela stayed for a few days at 4bis Rue des Beaux Arts, upstairs in what was then a hotel but now is the Galerie Patrice Trigano.|
|July 3, 1971||Jim dies in his bathtub at Rue Beautreillis 17.|
|July 7, 1971||Jim is buried at Père Lachaise cemetery on the east side of Paris.|
|Some of this information is from the very useful page "The Complete Paris Guide for Doors Fans" where you can find far more detail.|
Inside l'Hôtel de Médicis
Here are scans of my admittedly poor photographs of l'Hôtel de Médicis.
You climbed a narrow staircase from the street. Each landing opened into an even narrower hallway.
Here you see the view as you stepped through the door into the room. Simple, basic, and the plumbing was quite obvious — just a pedestal sink and a white bidet. See the dedicated page on my Toilets of the World site for more on the plumbing.
The view above shows the bed to the right as you step through the door. In this view, we have walked to the far left corner of the room and turned back to see the bed. The room had a simple bed and set of shelves. No bathroom vanity, so that's my toilet kit on the shelves not too far from the sink.
The window looked across the courtyard at the center of the block to the backs of other small hotels and apartment buildings.
Notice the left-most building visible through the window in this view. My room was level with its top floor.
The image of the view from Jim's room on the no longer extant jimsroom.com site showed a very similar view. However, it was two floors lower. It showed a view level with the second from top floor of that building at left. Also, the viewpoint was a little to our right, so you were looking a little more at rather than along the windowed face of that building.
This means that my room was two floors further up the narrower staircase, and further down the corresponding narrow hallway from the stairs.
The room had a green pedestal sink and a bidet. The toilets and showers were all down the hall at l'Hôtel de Médicis, you didn't get bathroom vanities and other fancy furniture.
Also visible here — ceramic tile on the wall from the edge of the window, behind the radiator, around the corner and behind the sink. The floor is covered with two types of linoleum sheet with a thin metal border nailed down over the joint.
The room was simple but completely adequate. It had a small desk and chair. It had a fireplace but it no longer functioned. At least the fireplace provided a mantle to hold your bottle of cheap wine, your fresh bagette, and your box of juice.
Here are some much better images, from a visit to Paris in 2005 with a digital camera. See "The Complete Paris Guide for Doors Fans" for a good description of where Jim lived in Paris.
Jim returned to Paris on 11 March 1971. He lived with his girlfriend Pamela Courson at the Hôtel Georges V for a week. That's a luxury hotel on Avenue George V, just off the Champs-Élysées. They then moved to an apartment on the 3rd floor of this building at Rue Beautreillis 17.
To get to this apartment building, take the Métro to the Bastille station. Exit, walk west on Rue Saint Antoine for a few blocks, then turn left (south) on Rue Beautrellis.
The view here is looking north on Rue Beautrellis, back toward Rue Saint Antoine, so you would be coming down the street toward this viewpoint with the apartment building on your right.
A small cafe directly across the street gets some extra business for being known as being frequented by Jim and Pamela. It's just out of view to our right here.
You entered the Hôtel de Médicis through the narrow yellow doorway seen here, squeezed between a small book shop and the adjacent business. Then it was up a narrow staircase to reach the reception desk.
The discrete sign at the door mentioned that the prices were no more than moderate.
In the last picture here, the l'Hôtel de Médicis entryway is the first one along the left side of the narrow street, just before the shop with the yellow front window frame.
The Hôtel de Médicis still existed in 2005, but within four years it was gone.
L'Hôtel de Médicis was at 214 Rue Saint Jacques (Métro: Luxembourg), their phone number was +33-01-43-26-22-35-01-43.
They didn't take reservations, you had to just show up and take your chances. The time I stayed there was in late October and a room was available. The next time I tried to stay there was in early June and they were full.
|Works by Jim Morrison|
|Music||The Doors (Jan 1967) Strange Days (Oct 1967) Waiting for the Sun (July 1968) The Soft Parade (June 1969) Morrison Hotel (Feb 1970) L.A. Woman (April 1971) An American Prayer (Nov 1978)|
The Lords and The New Creatures (1969)
An American Prayer (1970) privately printed
by Western Lithographers.
Unauthorized edition of disputed authenticity published in 1983, Zeppelin Publishing Company, ISBN 0-915628-46-5.
Wilderness: The Lost Writings Of Jim Morrison (1988) The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison (1990)
|Films||HWY: An American Pastoral (1969) Feast of Friends (1970)|
Here is how to find Jim's grave at Cimetiere de Père Lachaise.
It's grave #30 in section #6. See the picture of the map below.
As that map shows, Philippe-Auguste is the closest Métro station.
The inscription on Jim Morrison's grave in Paris reads:
ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ
Κατα Τον Δαιμονα Εαυτου
KATA TON DAIMONA EAUTOU.
Depending on which translation you choose, this is said to mean:
- To the divine spirit within himself,
- He caused his own demons, or
- True to his own spirit.