Sunday, January 20, 2013

Paris: 10+ Artsy Reasons to Explore Montmartre

By Jacquelin Carnegie – (Paris, France)
Sacré-Cœur, La Fête des Vendanges
Imagine what it was like to hang out in Montmartre back in the late 19th & early 20th century when this hill in the 18th arrondissement was a bohemian enclave of artists, writers, and poets. Today, Montmartre’s become a tourist attraction, but the vestiges of its artsy past still remain and are definitely worth exploring. To experience the authentic charm of this neighborhood, sightsee early in the morning and late at night and wander down the lovely side streets to chat with the locals.
Montmartre’s Most Intriguing Sights
Le Bateau-Lavoir
 (photo: cinazza)
13 rue Ravignan, Place Emile Goudeau; Metro: Abbesse
Although the building, rebuilt after a fire, isn’t open to the public, check out the commemorative window because a number of the most influential artists and writers of the 20th century once lived here. From 1904 to 1912, Pablo Picasso had a studio where he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avingnon, ushering in cubism. Artists Modigliani and Gris also lived here as did poets Max Jacob and André Salmon.
(photo: JCarnegie)
Le Passe-Muraille
Place Marcel Aymé, at rue Norvins & rue Girardon; Metro: Lamarck–Caulaincourt
This intriguing sculpture is based on a short story character, Monsieur Dutilleul, who was able to walk through walls (Le Passe-Muraille, 1943). Famous French actor Jean Marais made the bronze sculpture to honor the author, Marcel Aymé, who lived in Montmartre.
Le Mur des “Je t’aime” 
(I love You” Wall)
Place des Abbesses, Square Jehan Rictus; www.lesjetaime.com; Metro: Abbesses
 (photo: Moxieg)

This unique art installation looks like a blackboard covered with scribbles, but it’s actually a wall of glazed tiles with “I Love You” written in 250 languages to inspire peace and love.
The Best Entertainment in Montmartre
 (photo: auselen)
Le Lapin Agile 
22 rue des Saules; Tel: 01/46-06-85-87; www.au-lapin-agile.com; Metro: Lamarck–Caulaincourt
Open: Tues-Sun, 9pm-1am; Cost: 28€ per person, includes one drink

An evening at the Lapin Agile is kitsch, it’s cool, it’s not to be missed. Opened in 1860, artists and writers such as Picasso, Utrillo, Modigliani, and Apollinaire used to hang out here. Now, the renowned singer Yves Mathieu and his handsome sons, Frédéric and Vincent, keep the art of French chanson alive. You can’t go back in time but, each night, a talented group of musicians and singers brings the past to life.
Ciné 13 Théâtre
1 avenue Junot; Tel: 01/42-54-15-12; www.cine13-theatre.comMetro: Abbesses
This little theater was renovated by famed film director Claude Lelouch for use in one of his movies. Now, run by his daughter Salomé, it has become a neighborhood venue for innovative theater, concerts and family entertainment. Catch a show and feel like a local.
Montmartre’s Must-See Museum & Galleries
Musée de Montmartre
12 rue Cortot; Tel: 01/49-25-89-37; www.museedemontmartre.fr; Metro: Lamarck–Caulaincourt; Open: Daily, 10am-6pm; Fee.
Before the historic Manoir de Rosimond became a museum highlighting Montmartre’s fascinating past, it was home to some incredible artists such as Renoir, Utrillo, and Raoul Dufy. Enjoy the exhibits, then contemplate the past in the lovely, courtyard garden where Renoir once sat and painted.
André Renoux, Galerie André Roussard
Galerie André Roussard
7 & 13 rue du Mont Cenis; Tel: 01/46-06-30-46; www.roussard.com; Metro: Lamarck–Caulaincourt; Open: Daily, 11am-7pm
Since 1945, this gallery has specialized in painters who’ve had studios in Montmartre including some of the most famous such as Braque, Degas, Modigliani, and Utrillo. The Roussards will also introduce you to another generation of talented artists such as Gen Paul, André Renoux, Jean-Charles Decoudun, and Robert Delval.
Galerie AVM
42 rue Caulaincourt; Tel: 01/42-54-09-09; Metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt Open:Wed-Sun, 2pm-7:30pm 
Paule Honoré, Galerie AVM 

This delightful little gallery exhibits contemporary art: paintings, sculpture, prints, and objects d’art. It’s on Caulaincourt, a beautiful street in a less touristy section of Montmartre, worth exploring.
Halle Saint Pierre
2 rue Ronsard; Tel: 01/42-58-72-89; www.hallesaintpierre.org; Metro: Anvers; Open: Daily, 10am-6pm; Fee.
Built in 1868, the Halle Saint Pierre, located at the base of Montmartre, was once a market. Today, it’s a lovely cultural center with a cute café, a folk art collection, and space for temporary exhibits.
Meet Artsy Locals in Montmartre
 (photo: Owen Franken)
Chez Grace MeetUps 
Almost every month, Grace--an American who’s lived in Paris for years--organizes an interesting, artsy event worth attending. She brings together a diverse group of people to experience Paris' contemporary art and culture.
Atelier Berner
102-bis rue Lepic; Tel: 01/42-52-25-95; www.jeffberner.com; Metro: Abbesses; Open: by appointment, berner@sonic.net
Every year, Californian photographer Jeff Berner who’s lived in Paris since 2003, runs a week-long “Creative Loitering in Paris" photography workshop/sightseeing tour (Price: Week, $1250, plus airfare, hotel, & meals). On request, he offers a day-long version (300 per person). A Quirky Find: During the renovation of his rue Lepic studio, Berner found 200 paintings hidden behind a wall. These scenes of Montmartre, done in the 1960s & 70s by nine different artists, are also for sale (call first).
Discover Montmartre’s Fascinating Past on a Walking Tour
Syndicat d'Initiative Montmartre - Tourism Office
21 place du Tertre; Tel: 01/42-62-21-21; www.montmartre-guide.com Open: Daily, 10am-6pm. Tour Cost: Free-12€ per person

Place du Tertre (photo: David Monniaux)
Montmartre’s Tourism Office offers a variety of tours from guided to go-on-your-own apps. The suggested walks are a great way to orient yourself in this area where it's easy to get confused on all the twisty-turny streets.
Walking The Spirit Tours
Tel: 519/497-0933; www.walkthespirit.com; Duration: 2+ hrs; Cost: $90 per person
In the 1920s, jazz musicians and entertainers from the “Harlem Renaissance”--Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, and writers Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen--came to Paris and gravitated to lower Montmartre. On The Entertainers tour, learn all about this jazz scene in Montmartre and see where the famous clubs such as Chez Bricktop, Le Grand Duc and Chez Josephine used to be.
It’s Party Time in Montmartre
La Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre 
www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com
Montmartre’s vineyards date from 390 B.C. Every year, during the first week of October, Montmartre’s Wine Harvest Festival is celebrated throughout the neighborhood with a parade, wine-tasting booths, food stalls, music, dancing in the streets, and fireworks. It’s a fun time to plan a trip to Paris.
La Commanderie du Clos-Montmartre
Btw rue des Saules & rue Saint-Vincent; Tel: 01/44-92-35-34; Metro: Lamarck–Caulaincourt
(photo: Son of Groucho)
The current vineyard was re-planted in 1929. The Clos Montmartre can be visited during La Fête des Vendanges or through special arrangement with La Commanderie (call first).
Great Places To Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Montmartre
Jean-Charles Decoudun, Galerie André Roussard
Au Relais (48 rue Lamarck; Tel: 01/46-06-68-32) - a typical French bistro. Les Petits Mitrons (26 rue Lepic; Tel: 01/46-06-10-29) - a local bakery known for quiches & fruit tarts. Lepic Assiette (35 rue Lepic; Tel: 01/42-55-95-95) - an affordable neighborhood crêperie. L'Etoile de Montmartre (26 rue Duhesme; Tel: 01/46-06-14-65) - a local French bistro. Neighborhood bars: La Midinette (2 rue Robert Planquette; Tel: 01/42-54-40-70; www.midinettemontmartre.fr) and Le Colibri (35 rue Véron; Tel: 01/46-06-07-90; www.colibri-montmartre.com).
Where to Stay:
Airbnb: Really get a feel for Montmartre by renting a room or an apartment in the neighborhood. 
Hotel des Arts (5 Rue Tholozé; Tel: 01/46-06-30-52; www.arts-hotel-paris.com) - a little, low-key hotel that pays homage to Montmartre’s artsy past.
Getting There:

(photo: Maggie D’Urbano)

Walk: Several different sets of  steep steps; Metro: Abbesses or Lamarck–Caulaincourt; Montmartrobus: Place Pigalle to Jules Joffrin (look for Sacré-Coeur symbol on the bus and bus stops); Funicular: Rue Tardieu (at the base) to Rue Saint Eleuthère (at the top);   
Le Petit Train de Montmartre: at Place Blanche, hop on a little tourist choo-choo.

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