Toronto Star Weekly/February 4, 1922
But if change were normal he would starve to death. Pleasant hotels are cheap, but at the big tourist hotels they charge you ruinous prices. Restaurant prices low in terms of dollars.
PARIS—Paris in the winter is rainy, cold, beautiful and cheap. It is also noisy, jostling, crowded and cheap. It is anything you want—and cheap.
The dollar, either Canadian or American, is the key to Paris. With the U.S. dollar worth twelve and a half francs and the Canadian dollar quoted at something over eleven francs, it is a very effective key.
At the present rate of exchange, a Canadian with an income of one thousand dollars a year can live comfortably and enjoyably in Paris. If exchange were normal the same Canadian would starve to death. Exchange is a wonderful thing.
Two of us are living in a comfortable hotel in the Rue Jacob. It is just back of the Academy of the Beaux Arts and a few minutes’ walk from the Tuileries. Our room costs twelve francs a day for two. It is clean, light, well heated, has hot and cold running water and a bathroom on the same floor. That makes a cost for rent of thirty dollars a month.
Breakfast costs us both two francs and a half. That totals seventy-five francs a month, or about six dollars and three or four cents. At the corner of the Rue Bonaparte and the Rue Jacob there is a splendid restaurant where the prices are à la carte. Soup costs sixty centimes and a fish is 1.20 francs. The meals are roast beef, veal cutlet, lamb, mutton and thick steaks served with potatoes prepared as only the French can cook them.
These cost 2.40 francs an order. Brussels sprouts in butter, creamed spinach, beans, sifted peas, and cauliflower vary in price from forty to eighty-five centimes. Salad is sixty centimes. Desserts are seventy-five centimes and sometimes as much as a franc. Red wine is sixty centimes a bottle and beer is forty centimes a glass.
My wife and I have an excellent meal there, equal in cooking and quality of food to the best restaurants in America, for fifty cents apiece. After dinner you can go anywhere on the subway for four cents in American money or take a bus to the farthest part of the city for the same amount. It sounds unbelievable but it is simply a case of prices not having advanced in proportion to the increased value of the dollar.
All of Paris is not so cheap, however, for the big hotels located around the Opera and the Madeleine are more expensive than ever. We ran into two girls from New York the other day in the Luxembourg Gardens. All of us crossed on the same boat, and they had gone to one of the big, highly advertised hotels. Their rooms were costing them sixty francs a day apiece, and other charges in proportion. For two days and three nights at their hotel they received a bill for five hundred francs, or forty-two dollars. They are now located in a hotel on the left bank of the Seine, where five hundred francs will last two weeks instead of two days, and are as comfortable as they were at the tourist hotel.
It is from tourists who stop at the large hotels that the reports come that living in Paris is very high. The big hotelkeepers charge all they think the traffic can bear. But there are several hundred small hotels in all parts of Paris where an American or Canadian can live comfortably, eat at attractive restaurants and find amusement for a total expenditure of two and one half to three dollars a day.
(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)