Paris with filter
We visited one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Paris to capture its charms with a smartphone. From street artists and revamped cabarets to vineyards and Art Deco architecture, there are countless reasons to visit time and again.
Text: Arantxa Neyra | photos: juan jerez @juanjerez
Second only to the Eiffel Tower, the neighborhood of Montmartre is one of the most popular destinations in Paris, the most visited city in the world (welcoming 72 million every year). Now imagine the number of tourists who head every day to the Place du Tertre, the nerve center of Montmartre: it’s simply dizzying.
“An anthill – that’s what it is!” complains Mariana, a college student who has lived in the lower part of the neighborhood for four years and occasionally serves as a guide for friends visiting from her native Argentina. Her boyfriend, Alexandre, laughs and agrees: “Parisians never go to the Place du Tertre. It’s Paris for tourists, the image that they have in their heads. And they have to see it. Here, everything is planned out. You see all those painters? How many do you think there are? 100, 200? There are 149, exactly. Each with one square meter to show their work.”
But the plaza wasn’t always like this. There weren’t always watercolors by the score, terraces for enjoying a croque monsieur, souvenir shops, postcards and refrigerator magnets. In the early 19th century, before Montmartre had even become part of Paris, Place du Tertre was the main square of the independent, rural Commune of Montmartre, home to the church of Saint-Pierre and it’s small cemetery, Calvaire.
In 1860, Montmarte was absorbed into the capital, and in a few decades, it had become a haven for artists: great painters in the making and bohemians living life to the fullest. Montmarte was the cheapest place to live and offered the most concentrated source of culture in Paris. Everyone passed through, from Renoir to Matisse, from Toulouse Lautrec to Picasso. Everyone. Even Gen Paul (1895 – 1975), “the last great artist of Montmartre,” according to Julien Roussard, who owns the premier collection of Paul’s work and the Galerie Roussard, formerly the vaunted Patachou cabaret, where Jacques Brel sang and Édith Piaf gave her last performance.
Today and Yesterday
The influence of the Place du Tertre only extends a few blocks. “This is where the tourists stop, and the real neighborhood begins,” explains Alexandre as we walk down Rue Saint Rustique, the oldest street in Paris. Our destination is 12 Rue Cortot, a little house painted a unique shade between ochre and rose: the Musée du Montmartre. Representing the neighborhood through the art on its walls and its literary heritage, the museum was once the home of painters Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo, a mother and son whose apartment has been preserved untouched, and Auguste Renoir, who according to the museum guide, painted “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” from its windows. The adjacent gardens bear his name. “From here, you can see the last vineyard in Paris,” says the guide, pointing across the street.
As strange as it might sound, these vines are the only survivors of all the vineyards that once existed in the area. They belong to the city, and resident enologist Francis Gourdin uses a completely artisanal process to produce about a thousand bottles a year at a government building in Arrondissement 18. Clos de Montmartre is a Pinot Noir with a delightful bouquet, an urban charm and a sense of romance that encompasses all things Parisian. The same qualities pervade the nearby Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent, a unique example of the local habitat in all its wild and verdant glory.
Throughout Montmartre, you’ll spot vestiges of other eras, like the Lapin Agile cabaret, where Clemenceau, Picasso and Utrillo enjoyed their first taste of local revelry, and which still offers an evening packed with comedy and music, or the elegant Avenue Junot, known as “les petits Champs Élysées.” It’s a favorite among artists of all stripes, who come to live or vacation in its Art Deco buildings, Alexandre tells us. “And when Brad Pitt comes to town, they say he reserves the entire Hotel Particulier.” It’s a gorgeous house partially hidden within a garden, which recently added a cocktail bar, Le Très Particulier. “Regular Parisians prefer to hang out in SoPi (south of Pigalle), near the Rue des Martyrs,” says Mariana. It’s the new bohemian-chic area of the moment, south of Boulevard de Clichy, the final frontier of that neon-laden district. It’s currently the coolest spot in Paris, and the best place to check out what’s happening in the city.
Start your evening with cocktails at Dirty Dick, the café Carmen, María Magdalena or Kremlin, a temple to vodka with a Russian aesthetic. Then, it’s time for music and dancing: check out Les Trois Baudets, the bar at Amour hotel. For live performances from indie rock groups, Country Club boasts its own music label and preserves the freewheeling spirit of the bordello that once operated here.
Despite the many facelifts the neighborhood has had over time, despite all the tourists who visit, Montmartre still retains that special bohemian aura, a libertine air that will not fade, neither with the years nor with the 72 million annual visitors. in
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23, Avenue Junot
8, rue Navarin
Dining & Bars
27, rue Pierre Fontaine
53, Avenue Trudaine
55, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, París 9
5, rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle
10, rue Frochot, París 9
34, rue Duperré
41, rue de la Rochefoucauld
6, rue André Antoine
Les Trois Baudets
64, boulevard de Clichy
59, rue Jean-Baptiste