August 5, 2008

PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS: Part 1—Finding photographs: An International Adventure

Filed under: JOURNAL — carolyncholland @ 12:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

Part 1: Finding photographs: An International Adventure

Research for a historical (romance) novel and accompanying DVD/Power Point presentation can be challenging, especially when the scenes and research occur in Boston, Mass.; Alexandria, VA; the Scioto area of Ohio; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Lamoine, ME—and Paris, France. Travel to some of these places may be reasonable, since my husband and I travel to New England as often as we are able (I am a New Englander and love the coast). However, travel to France is not reasonable for us.

When my research uncovered a French café that has been in continuous operation since 1686, I sighed contentedly. THIS could be the location of a scene in the beginning of my novel, which occurs several weeks after the fall of the Bastille. The characters include members of the French Scioto Company (an extension of the Ohio Company’s sub- land grant known as the Scioto Associates). These characters are discussing ways to interest the French populace in purchasing land in Ohio. American lawyer/poet Joel Barlow is present, as an agent of the Scioto Associates, as is an extraordinary woman, Rosalie de la Val (known as Madame). Being female, she was not allowed to be in the café. However, she entered, disguised in male attire (she was to become an independent land speculator in America).

I needed pictures of the Procope Café. I found them on various Internet sites, including the photo site FLICKR. They show an elegant café, where patrons through the centuries met: writers, philosophers, revolutionaries, statesmen, scientists, dramatists, stage artists, play writers, literary critics, Americans.
These excellent pictures supplied me with sufficient visual description to write the scene. However, copying the photos for use in a power point presentation could lead to copyright theft accusations. The process of getting permissions is unfamiliar to me, and seemed bothersome. What I really wanted was to somehow obtain my own photos. And to get them without flying across the ocean!

I was pleased to receive an E-mail from a distant relative in Sweden. Her daughter, she wrote, was going to study in Paris for a year. I replied, boldly asking if she might take some pictures of the Procope Café for me. There was no response.

Fortunately, three persons in my community go to France on a regular basis. Since one isn’t a photographer, I begged and cajoled the other two to do some photography for me. I sent the first traveler off with the following note:

I’m writing an article for a historical journal, the New England Quarterly, and am also authoring a historic romance novel, concerning the La Compagnie du Scioto. The time era is 1789-1790. I will have one scene take place at the Café La Procope. I have asked my friend if she would try take some photos of the inside of the café, with architectural details, a general overview and perhaps some of the photos of 1790 individuals that are hanging on the café walls. Thank you for your permission for her to do this.   
Carolyn C. Holland  
chollandnews at

Gretchen returned from France with a nice selection of exterior photos of the restaurant, which she said were taken by her husband.

Still, I lacked interior photos. The second traveler, Daneen, had a copy of the note when she visited Paris. She returned with pictures of the interior of the café. 

“I dashed into the café and shot the pictures and quickly left,” she said. No one seemed to bother her, and patrons ignored her even when they were being photographed. I now had my pictures.

Then, I received an E-mail from my Swedish relative. She was going to Paris to visit her daughter and would take some photos. Below are copies of the communications:

Wow! Thank You! Looking forward to them. If possible take overviews and close-ups of details of the wood and photos. Hope it works out!
If you need to answer questions, tell them a researcher in America needs them for a journal article and a novel scene. You can give them my E-mail. Thanks. Carolyn

I soon received twenty-two pictures by E-mail, followed by this note:

We have a wnderfl time in Paris. E. went to school everyday and I have walk around Paris 6 hours day.
Its no problem ta take photos , they was very nice people work there, I have some fun hours there.
I send you some more photos so can se us.I like to go out with my camera in nature every day I was home.
greatings Ann

Thus, with the help of three people, I obtained a group of wonderful photos of a restaurant in France.

If anyone else wants to send me photographs of the La Procope Cafe or the street and area it is on, please do so. If you do send them, it is with the understanding that I will credit you as the photographer, but you are giving me the right to use them freely in my work.

To read the second part of the story of Le Procope, click on: PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2

Additional Reading:






1 Comment »

  1. […] PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS: Part 1—Finding photographs: An International Adventure […]

    Pingback by Why Opt to Study a Year in France? | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 13, 2015 @ 1:45 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: