Friday Fun: Old Montmartre in Photos and Paintings

If I could live anywhere in Paris, and money were no object, I would choose Montmartre, despite the tourist hordes. The endless steps and steep roads would keep me fit, and there are still many quiet picturesque corners if you know where to look. Plus oh, the historical artistic associations! Of course, in the 19th century Montmartre was anything but posh and expensive: it was a scrappy little suburb full of rebellious smallholders (marking the start of the revolutionary Paris Commune in 1871), poor working class people, bars and cabarets. Artists flocked there because it was cheap and provided an excellent spot for people-spotting.

Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre.
Van Gogh’s representation of it.
Impasse Girardon in real life.
Utrillo’s version of Impasse Girardon.
The infamously steep road Impasse Trainee.
Impasse Trainee in winter, by Utrillo.
Rue St Vincent and the cabaret-bar Lapin Agile.
Yet another Utrillo rendition of the same spot.
Place du Tertre, which is now filled with portrait painters and souvenir stalls.
Antoine Blanchard’s rainsodden version.
The vineyards in Montmartre have existed since Roman times, but almost fell victim to property developers in the early 20th century.
Not quite the same angle, but Van Gogh was fascinated with these orchards and vineyards too.
The vines are flourishing now and celebrate an annual harvest festival. From montmartre-addict.com
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15 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Old Montmartre in Photos and Paintings”

  1. Thanks so much. Great pictures. Grew up with Utrillo scenes in our house.
    Did not know that Montmatre was the site of the Paris Commune of 1871. I must read more history and not so many mysteries.
    Speaking of mysteries, I”m now happily reading Susie Steiner’s second book, “Persons Unknown.” It’s very good. That was my Thursday and it may be my Friday, too. Interesting plot, but the character development is excellent. And Steiner’s social and women’s consciousness is quite apparent in the book, although it’s all folded neatly within the story.
    Am so glad to have learned of Steiner at this blog. I’ll be a long-time fan as long as she is writing about Manon Bradshaw.

    1. Am so glad you are enjoying the Steiner novel – that is exactly what appealed to me, the strong sense of character and women’s consciousness, without it becoming an extended social essay.

  2. Oh, my, I can see why you feel the way you do, Marina Sofia. Putting aside the history of the area, it’s got so many interesting parts to it. And there’s a loveliness to it, too.

    1. On a sunny evening after one of my courses, I managed to find almost deserted corners of Montmartre when I went for a wander, although the obvious tourist spots were packed. I always love discovering something just behind the beaten track…

  3. Ah, happy memories of many visits over the years! And also of the Utrillo which hung for years in our living room. It’s still a family joke that it might be an original… 😉

    1. You should have that checked out!
      It’s always been my favourite part of Paris, although I also love Buttes-Chaumont, Belleville. I think there’s something about the hills

  4. Will you treat us to a description + feelings ? (as per the previous post) ? 🙂
    C’était le temps du Montmartre de la bohème, celui d’un village avec ses ruelles et ses jardins, ses moulins et ses ateliers d’artistes. On y buvait sous une tonnelle un petit vin du cru, on y déclamait des vers au Lapin Agile, c’était le temps des bals et des guinguettes, où ” gendelettres ” et viveurs se côtoyaient. Dorgelès ” voyait le jour ” sur le faîte de la Butte, Mac Orlan en descendait la pente vers les brumes de la grande ville. Carco fréquentait les bars louches au pied de la colline, dont Céline prophétisait qu’elle allait sauter. Montmartre des écrivains, ce fut un art de vivre et une atmosphère, des lieux et des figures. La bohème ! la vraie, dont le charme et la poésie revivent dans ces pages. (Rodolphe Trouilleux)

    1. Oh, you should, especially at a time of year when there are fewer tourists. Also highly recommended: Parc de Buttes-Chaumont with its wonderful view towards Montmartre.

      1. Ah, right, good point – no Montmartre in August! Some other time.

        I was just reading about le Parc de Buttes-Chaumont in Aragon’s Paris Peasant, so I have to see that for myself.

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