Ooh La La — I Want To Live at The Ritz in Paris

Ernest Hemingway wrote the foreword for Charles Ritz’s autobiography A Fly Fisher’s Life. Hemingway describes the hotelier:

Charles Ritz is one of the very finest fishermen I know. He is not only a great fly fisherman for trout and salmon but he is an articulate writer and a splendid technician.

He is also an iconoclast who never hesitates to destroy an idol in order to deal only with true and important facts.

Because he is a charming companion he does not bore a non-technical reader with his knowledge. But it is there like a mine of true information for anyone with the desire and the intelligence to work it.

charles ritz hemingway

In his book Ritz talks about Coco Chanel and the first time she went fly fishing:

That great dressmaker, Coco Chanel, lived at the Ritz for more than 35 years. Her suite in the Cambon building was just opposite mine. On one occasion, knowing that she had been fishing the Alta with His Grace the Duke of Westminster, I asked: ‘Mademoiselle Chanel, did you enjoy the salmon fishing in Norway? She told me of her concern when the Duke invited her to join his party.

‘Never having fished before, I was most anxious. After all, who would want to make a poor showing at such time?’ She need not have worried. One of the Duke’s friends who always joined him on the Alta, was a famous fly-fisher. Coco explained her problems to him and received the soundest possible advice. ‘Mademoiselle, in fishing we try to lure the salmon with an artificial fly. Casting is a simple matter, but when the fly is in the air the fish cannot see it. Your best chance of success is to keep your fly constantly on the water.’

He added that she need to have no qualms about choosing the right pattern, nor waste her time changing flies. ‘Just look at the sky. When it’s clear and bright, tie on a Silver Doctor. When dark and overcast, use a Black Doctor. Nothing could be simpler.’ Being of a very practical nature, Coco followed his advice. As a result, on several occasions she landed more salmon then His Grace.

6 Responses to “Ooh La La — I Want To Live at The Ritz in Paris”
  1. El Pescador says:

    I completely agree with the Duke’s friend about fly fishing and its simplicity. It is a basic matter of keeping the fly in the water and believing in every cast. I suppose having fish in the water is important too which there probably were plenty of on the Alta back in the day. Cool piece FFC.

  2. WT says:

    Reading these last two posts gave me cooties.

  3. Alabama flygirl says:

    So I am hanging out on a Sunday evening trying to feed the fly fishing addiction vicariously since we did not get to fish today and I came across your blog. What a great find. I was already hooked but when I came to the 2 phrases “sweet mother of god it was hot in Montana last summer” and “fifteen minutes into this shit show…” I knew I had come across one cool Southern chick that writes a dang good blog! There are lots of good blogs written by men out there but glad to come across one that makes me laugh…and feeds the fly fishing addiction too! Thanks!

  4. el pescador — thx a ton! worst thing that can happen to me is I start casting WELL. feels so good I just start vanity casting and forget to get the damn fly on the water

    flyfirl – so glad you found me and come back often!! we need more cool dixie estrogen round here

    wt – bathe in tomato juice. cooties should rinse right off

  5. WT says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like cooties.

  6. Kentucky Jim says:

    The comments are great, like the article. I’m not familiar with the “…fifteen minutes into this shit show…” piece. However, Alabama Flygirl is right. “Sweet mother of god it was hot in Montanna last summer” has a cadence all its own, and should be the first line of a truly great poem.

    Glad all had a good time, and glad the little one was able to bring some humanity to such a rarified atmosphere. It’s good to have you back, writing good stuff, and writing it well.

    As for this article


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