Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011--Montmartre

We took our last walking tour this morning to Montmartre, the famous area on the outskirts of the city and high in the hills.  This was the place where artists, writers, and painters congregated at the turn of the twentieth century.

We arrived at Place de Abbesses, which has a beautiful art nouveau metro stop on the site of a former abbey that was torn down after the Revolution.  Across the street is St. Jean l'Evangeliste de Montmartre, an extraordinary church designed of concrete, brick, and art nouveau flourishes.  Mass was in progress, so no entry.  

St. Jean l'Evangeliste de Montramrte

We then wandered up the curving streets and stopped at the one-time residence of Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, and then further up the hill we could look down on the home and studio of Henri de Touluse-Lautrec.  An interesting feature of this part of the city are actual houses as opposed to apartments.

Van Gogh's digs, now home to the wealthy

top floor is Toulouse-Lautrec's joint

Montmartre house

Our guide took us around in a gradual ascent up to the Butte (the top of the hill), and on the way we saw Moulin de la Galette, the last of the original thirty windmills that once dotted these hills and ground grapes and wheat (Judy, there's part of your answer about galettes).  We then came to Bateau-Lavoir, an old piano factory converted into artists' studios and salons, where Picasso, among others, took up residence.  Around the corner there are still some studios that are rented out.

 Moulin de la Galette

artists' studios

We then came to a small square which features the bronze limbs and head of a man exiting the brick wall.  The image comes from a story by Marcel Ayme in which a nondescript clerk discovers he can walk through walls and seeks notoriety and a lover.  When he finally succeeds in seducing someone, his powers fade (after taking a special medication) and he becomes trapped leaving his lover's home (residence located above this wall).  For the full monty on this story, visit

The Man Who Walked Through Walls
Next we stopped at Au Lapin Agile, a famous, tiny cabaret that is still in business.  The name is a pun and literally means the agile rabbit.  Across the street is a small, still operational vineyard, the last of the many that once characterized this once largely rural area.  Up we went to the top to see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, that on a clear day commands vistas of all Paris.  It was hazy and incredibly cold, down in the 20s, but the views were not that clear.

Au Lapin Agile

water tower on ascent to basilica

We stopped for a good lunch at the base of the hill (recommended by our guide--thank you guide!), and then headed home, frozen but stuffed.  For those interested in the menu, see Mary's eventual blog; she specializes in the food review.

No comments:

Post a Comment