Montmartre – “Mountain of the Martyr”

A hill which is about 130 meters tall, situated at the northern part of Paris by the 18th arrondissement, also a part of the Right Bank is Montmartre. It is popular for its white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur at the top and also a nightclub district. Another church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, an older church which claims to be the place where the Jesuit order of priests was founded. A lot of artists owned studios or worked around Montmartre like Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Amedeo Modigliani and many more. Moreover, the place has also been the setting of some popular films. Montmartre is served by metro line 2 stations of Pigalle, Anvers and Blanche, as well as the line 12 stations of Pigalle, Abbesses, Lamarck – Caulaincourt and Jules Joffrin.

History of Montmartre

The religious representation of the place was from way back prehistorical times. It was believed to be a holy place since it is also the highest mountain in the area. However, there are no archeological evidences that support the statement.

The popular Church of Sacré-Cœur can also be found on the highest part of Paris. Montmartre maintained a rural look which became the material for artists like Pissaro, Van Gogh and many more. In addition, the place is known for its nightlife; with the popular nightclub, the Moulin Rouge.
Mons Martis or “Mount of Mars” came through the Merovingian times. The place was baptized as Montmartre which means “mountain of the martyr”. The name of the place also owes its name to Saint Denis, a martyr who was beheaded on the hill in 250 AD. Saint Denis was the Bishop of Paris and is now known as France’s patron saint.

In 1590, during the Siege of Paris, the hills at Montmartre were utilized by Henry IV where he can put his artillery. The siege became unsuccessful when a big group of relief force went to him and forced him to withdraw from the battle. During the 18th and 19th century, there were plenty of gypsum mines in the area.

Since Montmartre was beyond the limits of the city, it was free from Paris taxes. Also, since local nuns made wine in the area, it became a known place for drinking. It then developed into a decadent place of entertainment by the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century.

When Napoleon III together with Baron Haussmann, his city planner, wanted to make Paris as Europe’s most beautiful city, the first thing to do was to sweep large parcels of land near the city centre to Haussmann’s friends as well as financial supporters. This drove away the residents to live at the edges of the city, living in districts like Clichy and La Villette

The popular Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was constructed at Montmartre from the year 1876 until 1912, to honor the victims of the Franco-Prussian War that took place in 1871. The white dome of the church can be seen as a clear city landmark. Below it, there are plenty of artists with easels everyday.

French statesman, Georges Clemenceau became the mayor of Montmartre. In the middle of the 19th century, artists like Johan Jongkind and Camille Pissaro lived there. However, it was only by the end of the century that the district became the principal center for artists in Paris.

Montmartre is officially a historical place that there is only limited development allowed in the area so that it can maintain its wonderful history.

Paris Attraction - Musee de montmartre

Paris Tour of Attraction – Museee Montmartre

‘Paris est une ville d’escaliers qui provoquent l’ imagination’ (‘Paris is a city of steps that spark the imagination’), wrote Julien Grenn in his book Paris (1938). Montmartre certainly is full steps. Today, in spite of the tourists, there is still something quite magical about the butte. This walk takes you through circuitous alleys ways, up steps and cobbled streets, and past ignored areas of the village as well as famous sights, such as the Sacre-Coeur and Place du Tertre.

Start: Metro Chateau-Rouge; buses 31 and 56
Finish: Metro Anvers; buses 30 and 54.
Length: 5km (3miles).
Time: 3 hr.
Refreshments: Countless cafes and restaurants.
Which day: any day, although weekends can be too busy
To visit the following Paris Attractions:
• Musee de Montmartre: daily (not Monday) 11.00-18.00.
• Sacre Coeur – Paris’ first church

Chateau Rouge

Exit the metro onto Place du Chateau-Rouge; behind you is the area known as the Goutte d’Or, which in spite of intense reconstruction, has kept some of its popular charm. It is home to diverse communities, mostly African and Maghreban.

Facing you, on the other side, is Montmartre. Cross Boulevard Barbes and go left along Rue Puolet. At the top, turn right into Rue de Clignancourt, a long street leading to the outskirts of the city and named after the Seigneurie de Clignancourt, less than 1 km (1/2 mile) away. The original Chateau Rouge-built mostly of red bricks, and later, in the 1840s-60s, an extremely popular dancehall-was at nos 42-54. Pass Rue Muller on your left, go left along Rue Ramey, and then turn left again into Rue du Chevalier-de-La Barre. This very narrow 17th-century streets is picturesque and charming, with steps, trees and an unusual view over the Sacre-Coeur.

Rue du Chevalier de-La barre carries straight on, now a normal-sized street; notice the narrow steps of Passage Cottin going downhill to your right. Cross Rue Lamarck and continue up the steps, trees and unusual view over the Sacre Coeur.

Rue du Chevalier de-La –Barre carries straight on, now a normal-sized street; notice the narrow steps of Passage Cottin going downhill to your right. Cross Rue Lamarck and continue up the steps facing you, still Rue du Chuvalier-de-La Barre. At the top is Rue de la Bonne, which owes its name to the old fountain of the Bonne Eau.

Enter the new and attractive Parc de la Turlure, on your right. There are great views over northern Paris and its suburbs, and of course over the back of the Basilica. Leave this little park by the other side to return to Rue de la Bonne. Go left into Rue St-Vincent, an old street of the village, and the first street you come to is Rue du Mont-Cenis, another ancient path. The indifferent house on the corner sports a plaque indicating that Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) composed Harold en Italie (1834) and Benvenuto Cellini (1838) here; in fact, the lovely hermitage where he lived in 1834-7 with his young wife, Harriet Smithson (1800-18540, was demolished in 1925 to make way for the existing building. There are also two restaurants at the bottom of Rue du Mont-Cenis and on the corner with Rue Lamarck: Le Relais and Beauvilliers.

Foggy Street

Continue along Rue St-Vincent, a street rendered famous by the chansonnier Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) at the beginning of this century. On your left is first a small, rather wild-looking public garden, and then the last vineyard on Montmartre. When the Abbaye was still here (it was demolished during the Revolution), the butte was liberally covered with vines (the wine had a reputation for headiness). This one, much more recent, was planted in the 1930s to commemorate those that had disappeared.

Cross Rue des Saules. On your right are the famous Cabaret Lapin Agile, very much part of Montmartre’s bohemian history, and the small Cimetiere St-Vincent, where Arthur Honegger (1892-1956), Eugene Boudin (1824-1898) and Maurice Utrillo (1883-1985) are buried. The street goes downhill,turn sharply right, and leads into the small Square Dorgeles. Directly on your left, at the turn, are the steep steps of Rue Girardon, another ancient track of the butte. At the top of the steps, turn immediately right into the narrow Allee des Brouillards. On the left is the side are charming mid-18th-century cottages established on the site of the outbuildings of the chateau; they are unique among the cottages of Paris in having front gardens.

Dada in Paris

The allee opens out onto rue Simon-Dereure. Go into the public garden on the left, created in the 1930s, and walk through it until you find yourself on Avenue Junot, opened in 1909 and containing many fine contemporary houses; it is the northern way to the top of the hill. Turn right. At no 13 lived Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946), who became so famous for his paintings of urchins-every local souvenir shop[ sells reproductions of his rather gooey work-that for a long time the Paris street kids were called poulbots.

In the house at no 15 (not visitable) lived the Dada poet Tristan Tzara (1896-1963); this is also the only house built in France by the Viennese architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933), one of the pioneers of Modernism. It was created in the heyday of Art Deco and reflects Loos preoccupations: there is no decoration on what is rather arid façade, yet we have an intuitive feeling for what must be inside. The flatness is ameliorated by the triangular inset window- the converse of a bow window-and by the large rectangular opening on the two upper levels.

Further down the avenue, at no 25, is the rather delightful Villa Leandre, a series of small houses built in the 1920s.
Now retrace your steps to Poulbot’s house at no 13, and go through the gate just to the left of the house into one of Montmartre’s charming private allees. Climb the steps and carry on along the path-you have a good view of the back of Tzara’s house-and tehn down some steps to Rue Lepic. (If this way is closed, there is another passage by Tzara’s house leading to Rue Lepic).

‘Rue de l’Empereur’

Rue Lepic, one of the longer streets of Montmartre, was created at the instigation of Napoleon-hence its original name, ‘de l’Empereur’. The story goes that he wanted to inspect the telegraph installed by Claude Chappe (1763-1805), inventor of the optical telegraph, on a tower built on Eglise St-Pierre. (Optical messages were relayed via 16 such construction all the way to Lille.) At the time there was only one way up, Rue Ravignan, but this was so bad and so steep that the Emperor had to dismount and walk. His disgruntlement was such that a new road was quickly started.

At no 77 is the Moulin de la Galette, a mill built on the site of an older medieval mill in 1621. Heavily restored but still the same shape, a dancehall from the 1820s until quite recently, it is one of the last two moulins – there used to be 30-on the butte. The impressionist made it famous not only by painting it but also by drinking there often. Walk down Rue Lepic, a busy shopping street with pleasant houses. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and his brother Theo (d1891) lived for two years on the 3rd floor of no 54. At no 42, just before you reach Rue des Abbesses is La Pompannette, an excellent old-fashioned restaurant.

Rue Lepic carries on steeply downhill to the busier part of Boulevard de Clichy, with food stores, butchers, grocers, etc.; instead, turn left into Rue des Abbesses Tholoze, Studio 28, a few steps up on the right, was Paris’s first ‘repertory’ cinema: here the seminal L’age d’ Or (1930) by Luis Bunuel (1900-1983) and Salvador Dali (1904-1989) received its premiere in 1930.
Continue along Rue des Abbesses to Place des Abbesses.

The Sanctum Martyr um

Place des Abbesses, with its pleasant cafes, is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Just on the other side of the place, by Rue Yvonne-Leo Tac, used to be the entrance to the Abbaye des Dames-de-Montmartre. The Abbesses metro station is by Hector Guinard (1869-1942), with a roof and a Wallace fountain.

The red-brick church on the south side, Eglise St-Jean-l’ Evangeliste, the first public building inFrance in which concrete was used as a construction material, was built in 1897-1904 by Anatole de Baudot (1834-1915), a pupil of Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc (1814-1879) and an exponent of the architecture. Although the church was built when Art Nouveau was at its zenith, it is not truly speaking Art-Nouveau. The ceramic decoration both outside and inside was the work of Alexandre Bigot (1862-1927), also responsiblefro The Ceramic Hotel. The interior is surprisingly light, airy and restful.

No 9 Rue Yvonne-Le-Tac was until very recently the Couvent des Auxiliaries-de-la-Redemption, built on the site of the Sanctum Martyrium, a cemetery for persecuted Christian. It was on this site of the St Denis is said to have been a place beheaded by the Romans; a chapel built in the 9th century quickly became a place of pilgrimage. In 1534 Ignatius de Loyola (1491-1556), St Francois Xavier (1506-1552) and five other friends met in the crypt of the chapel-it had been rebuilt in the 12th century and was by now part of the Abbaye des Dames-de-Montmartre-and decided to found a new order. This became the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits.

The Bateau Lavoir

Cross the triangular place, go along Rue de La Vieuville (1840) and turn left into Rue des Trois-Freres, where at no 40 you will find Le Favori, a good simple bistro. The second street; it was so busy with the ferrying a plaster that it was cobbled as early as the firat half of the 17th century.

Rue Ravignon merges with Place Emile-Goudeau, a very shady little place with several cafes. At at no 13 is the famous Bateau Lavoir, the artists’ colony where Max Jacob (1876-1944), Andre Salmon (1881-1969), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Juan Gris (1887-1944), Andre Salmon (1881-1969), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Juan Gris (1887-1927), Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968), Georges Braque (1882-1963), Guillame Apollinaire (1880-1918) and others lived before WWI. It was in this house, in about 1906-7, that Picasso painted what is reckoned the first Cubist painting, the Demoiselles d’ Avignon, now at the Museum of modern Art in New York. The house, burnt down in 1970 but restored in 1978, was named by Max Jacob, probably because its unusual shape reminded him of the washing-boats of the Seine.

Facing you are the cobbled steps of Rue de la Mire, which leads into Place Jean-Baptiste-Clement, created at the turn of this century over the Bel-Air vineyard; Jean-Baptiste Clement (1836-1903) was a chansonnier and mayor Montmartre during the Commune. The place is the top of Rue Lepic, and from it you can clearly see the other extant windmill, the Moulin Radet. Also on the left is an old water tower (1837).Staying on the left a little further on into the 11th-century Rue Norvins, the butte’s ‘ridge’ road and the high street of the original village.

The oldest house in Montmartre

At no 22 Rue Norvins, a fine 18th-century house known as the Folie Sandrin, the celebrated Dr Esprit Blanche (1796-1852) had his mental clinic from 1820-1847, when he moved it to Passy; one of his patients was the poet Gerard de Nerval, who had taken to going for walks with a live lobster on a lead.

Reach the new Place Marcel-Ayme, where there is a sculpture by the actor Jean Marais (b1913) of the Passe Muraille, after a story by Marcel Ayme (1902-1967) and turn right into Rue Girardon. Go down a few steps into Rue de l’ Abreuvoir, along which catlle used to driven to the public trough (abrevoir) nearby. At no 2 is the Petite Maison Rose, painted by Maurice Utrillo (1883-1985; now done up, it is an average restaurant.

Cross Rue des Saules-again a good view of vineyard-into Rue Cortot, Erik Satie (1866-1925) lived at no 6 for some years. No 12 is Mintmartre’s oldest house, buiolt in the early 17th century and lived in by the actor Roze de Rosimond. From 1875 it was artists’ colony, and it is now the Musee de Montmartre, dedicated to the history of Montmartre; there are frequent exhibitons relating to people who have lived on the butte. The gardens are pretty and the house is almost intact.

Turn right into Rue du Mont-Cenis-the water-tower at the corner was built in 1927-and immediately right again into Rue St-Rustique, one of Montmartre’s best preserved streets. At the other end, on the corner with Rue des Saules, is what used to be the Billiard en Bois, another place of the Impressionists. Van Gogh used the garden in his painting La Ginguette (plaque).

You are now, alas deep in tourist-land, complete with souvenir shops’ and pseudy restaurants. Turn left and left again into Rue Norvins, then right into the narrow Rue Poulbot and along to the charming Place du Calvaire, where there is a superb perspective over Paris. Cross the place. Turn left and reach Place du Tertre, the trendiest spot in Montmartre, now invaded by the artistes Montmartrois and by expensive cafes and restaurants.

This walk is continued at: http://www.parisattractions.org/sacre-coeur-basilica-of-the-sacred-heart/

Hope you enjoy this walk with two cool Paris attractions you get to see.

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