I found Hotel du Dragon on Rue du Dragon, a small street which connected with St -Germain -de -Pres. Entering the dark lobby, I rang the bell for the concierge. I dislike ringing bells for people, and I wonder if my entrance was heard. In any case, I think the concierge was having her meal with the family. I was asked to pay in cash when my reservation was found, and given a key and shown my room. Up a staircase to a small room, which had comfortable soft bed, and a zinc Napoleonic bathtub, more deep than wide. Later, I would learn all about Hotel du Dragon because later, there would be an internet. I thought it was a hole in the wall hotel, forgetting that no other than the daughter of my British agent had arranged the room for me, and she must have known what would appeal.
There used to be a website for the hotel, which highlighted the rich literary history of the hotel, but the present website is more practical than romantic. Richard Hugo lived at 30 Rue du Dragon, a medieval street, which in 1991, boasted only a forlorn pizzeria cafe at the end of the street. I set off for Cafe de Flores very next day, and had a perfect cup. Outside, men read newspapers, student tourists talked to one another. My Paris was everyone’s Paris, but still mine.
I would like to go back to that hotel, and see what I can remember, or start again. I wound up moving hotels after just a night, because I had a peculiar anxiety of being able to exchange my American Express checks for cash to pay the bill. So I looked up a hotel in a borrowed copy of Let’s Go Paris, packed my small suitcase, and called a cab whose driver raised his eyebrows when I told him my destination was Hotel Americain. It was a block away. I could have walked, I remember thinking, laughing out loud with the cab driver. (Looking up Hotel Americain on the internet just now, I see it is located in the another arrondissement, so either the hotel re-located or changed hands. My memory? Mais non!) Nevertheless, I found a room, a dozen or so flights up, with a tiny balcony, with a shower several flights down. I almost immediately locked myself in by accident, or thought I did, but the resulting drama enabled me to meet two charming traveling companions. Accompanied by baguettes and brie, we set off for Chartres the next day.