History of the Hôtel des 3 Collèges


The poet Raoul Ponchon (1848-1937) spent the end of his life at the Hôtel des 3 Collèges (at the time known as the Hôtel de Flandre). Dubbed "our last Bacchic poet" by Apollinaire, Raoul Ponchon sang the praises of wine, flowers, and women, combining a sunny disposition and bonhomie with a refined poetic art. Verlaine wrote about him : "His conversation charms you by its witty eloquence… But most of all, he deserves to be read !" Raoul Ponchon is the author of La Muse au cabaret, La Muse gaillarde, and La Muse vagabonde.

Les Hommes d'Aujourd'hui : Raoul Ponchon, by Paul Verlaine

Blog Raoul Ponchon

Raoul Ponchon 
Arthur Rimbaud Arthur Rimbaud, who stayed in the neighboring building, describes the Hôtel des 3 Colleges' courtyard in a letter to Ernest Delahaye (June 1872) : "I have a pretty room, overlooking a bottomless courtyard, but 3 square meters wide. Rue Victor-Cousin is on the corner of the Sorbonne's square near the café du Bas-Rhin and leads to Rue Soufflot on the other end."
In the building opposite, the singer-poet Emile Goudeau (1849-1906) led the creation in 1878 of the Club des Hydropathes for lovers of both literature and good wine. Among the Club’s more notable members were Léon Bloy, François Coppée, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Cros, Jules Laforgue, and Alphonse Allais. Club des Hydropathes 
Miklós Radnóti A commemorative plaque by the hotel entrance celebrates the memory of Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944). A major Hungarian writer highly cherished by his fellow countrymen, this visionary poet belonged to the avant-gardist review Nyugat ("West") before winning the Baumgarten Prize in 1937. Radnóti loved France and stayed many times at the Hôtel des 3 Collèges during the 1930's. His love for French poetry led him to translate Rimbaud, Eluard, Mallarmé, Cendrars, and Apollinaire into Hungarian. Imprisoned in a camp in Yougoslavia during the war, he was tragically executed during a forced march imposed by the Nazis. He was 35 years old.

Link : in english 
Garcia Marquez

The Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez wrote his famous novel No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escriba) in the Hôtel des 3 Collèges. The novel, first published in 1961, tells of the wait by an old retired colonel for a letter announcing his eligibility for a pension for services rendered in a long-forgotten civil war. García Márquez is the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, "perhaps the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Don Quixote by Cervantès" (Pablo Neruda). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. By the hotel entrance, a commemorative plaque sculpted by Milthon pays homage to him.

Lire No One Writes to the Professor, par Marianne Ackerman

The Nigerian Wole Soyinka also stayed at the Hôtel des 3 Collèges. Born in 1934, he wrote the play A Dance of The Forests in 1960 to celebrate Nigeria's independance. Having taught in Nigeria, Ghana, England, and the United States, Wole Soyinka was the first African writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1986. His political activities brought him long periods of exile from and several prison terms in his country.

An "intellectual nomad" who lives in Brittany, Kenneth White is an habitué of the Hôtel des 3 Collèges. Born in Glasgow in 1936, he taught French literature before chairing the 20th century Poetry department at the Sorbonne. He was rewarded with the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Grand Prix Alfred de Vigny, and the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie Française. Kenneth White invented the concept of the "geopoetic".

Kenneth White 
Michel Butor

Michel Butor photographed by Philippe Grollier at the Hôtel des 3 Collèges for Le Monde, march 2006.

Born in 1926, Michel Butor was one of the founders of the Nouveau Roman -the New Novel- a literary movement represented by Nathalie Sarraute, Alain Robbe-Grillet and Claude Simon. Since The Modification (1957), he established himself as one the foremost writers of his generation, exploring different genres of literature (novel, poetry, essay, criticism). Michel Butor lives in a village of Haute-Savoie.