When Paris was gentrified in the 19th century and its narrow medieval lanes were replaced by broad boulevards, Montmarte, at the time essentially a suburb somewhere beyond the city limits, was not... Read More
When Paris was gentrified in the 19th century and its narrow medieval lanes were replaced by broad boulevards, Montmarte, at the time essentially a suburb somewhere beyond the city limits, was not considered important enough to warrant this type of treatment – and consequently spared.
That has proved its blessing: first, at the turn of the century, its charms helped to attract artists such as Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec who were later to change the history of painting – and then to attract tourists. Millions of them.
Many of whom never go much further than the Sacre Coeur and the famous "artists' square" around the corner. Which means that they also never get to see the narrow side streets that attracted Montmartre's famous artistic residents in the first place or get to sample its village-like atmosphere. An atmosphere that, as a matter of fact, has probably not changed all that much since the arrival of Picasso – or the release of the movie Amelie, the second epochal event in the cultural history of Montmartre.
The must-sees of Montmartre include: the stairways of Rue Chappe and Rue Utrillo (you may recognize the scenery from one of the many Hollywood movies that were shot there), the Bateau Lavoir on Place Emile Goudeau (where Picasso locked himself away to paint the Desmoiselles d'Avignon and to invent Cubism), the vineyard with the Lapin Agile cabaret on Rue Saint Vincent, and the Rue de l'Abreuvoir (Montmartre's prettiest).