Archive for the ‘Neighborhoods’ Category
During its avant-garde heyday (1875 to 1905) art exhibitions and festivities flourished in Montmartre, giving birth to Dada, Surrealism and other unorthodox art forms. Montmartre’s gifted artists were determined to stun the status quo with their daring approaches, while its elaborate cabarets catered to patrons looking for a bit of risqué entertainment. This was the place to be in fin-de-siècle Paris if you were an artist, writer or counter-culture bohemian (I guess the late 19th century equivalent of a hipster).
Several creative associations were formed in and around Montmartre. There were many people involved in these who eventually became world-renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Pierre Brissaud, Maurice Utrillo, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as well as the American expatriate Langston Hughes. Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and a few other struggling artists were content to live in Le Bateau-Lavoir, a commune, in the years between 1904 and 1909.
Even after the so-called heyday visitors to Montmartre mostly consisted of aspiring artists, struggling poets and unpublished authors. This list included the young Earnest Hemingway and his newly married wife, Hadley Richardson. Back then, Montmartre was a turn of the century artistic stronghold with lingering vestiges of “La Boheme”. Imagine a congregation of cabaret singers, pimps and vagabond painters sporting goatees and odd-sized berets.
The Montmartre of Today
In some ways, this Paris neighborhood remains the same. There still are traces of alternative culture, but you may have to head further downhill towards Pigalle, into the 9th district, to find some of the racier nightclubs.
Contemporary Montmartre has become one of the biggest tourist attractions of Paris. According to city officials, more than 6 million tourists visit this mecca of bygone bohemian culture every year. During peak season days, around 18,000 people walk up its winding streets, cramming the Place du Tertre – where many painters still set up their easels (the Dali museum and the Montmartre museums are nearby too). And they don’t mind elbowing their way up the constricted steps to get a glimpse of the Sacre-Coeur and to gaze down upon the remarkable and incomparable cityscape of Paris.
As you know with the launch of Paris M&M, our free iPhone app, we here at Paris Museums love serendipity when it comes to exploring this vast city. But, just like a jazz musician improvises from a base of bebop scales, a little guidance always makes your journeys more enjoyable.
The Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall) keeps this in mind with its Heritage Strolls. They are not associated with any of the organized tours, and each stroll is organized by a different theme. Just print out the documents (linked below) and follow whatever portion of the routes interest you the most. The Mairie says you’ll be tempted to duck into many of the museums along the way. Our app, which utilizes the built-in GPS of your iPhone, is perfect for keeping you informed of what attraction is closest to you.
- The Vestiges of Ancient Paris Stroll: Discover the city’s rich ancient Roman heritage
- The Great Minds Stroll: Walk in the footsteps of great thinkers like Rousseau, Compte, Diderot and Voltaire
- The Paris Bell-Tower Stroll: A tour of some of Paris’ impressive Bell Towers
- The Mosaics Stroll: Thanks to their popularity at the turn of the century, mosaics can be found in edifices all over the city. This is a tour of some of the most remarkable among them
- The Paris Bridge-and-Statue Stroll: Explore some of the most notable bridges and statues along the world-famous Seine
- The Knights and Horses Stroll: A historic swath of the city punctuated by statues of military heroes featuring, for the most part, horses
Parisians are known to take great pride in their parks, and their fair city boasts more than 400 of them, some dating back to the 17th century. If you want a place to cool off and relax this summer, look no further.
Here are some of the most notable parks in Paris
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is among the largest public parks in the city. It is immensely popular with tourists and is a great place for children. There is a pond in the center of the garden where kids can rent boats, and there is a playground, merry-go-round, pony rides and a puppet theater. The fountains and statues in the park have made it world famous.
Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries‘ central location have made it one of the most popular parks in Paris. Between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, it boasts a large pond, beautiful sculptures and two museums (l’Orangerie and Jeu de Paume). It was designed by André Le Nôtre in 1664, who also designed the gardens of Versailles. Don’t forget to visit the Fête Foraine du Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries fun fair) with its large ferris wheel and games.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Another notable park in Paris, but it stands out from the others due to its location on a hilltop. Waterfalls, lakes, a grotto, and the Belvedere of Sybil add a romantic touch to this park. There is an island in the park’s lake that offers good views. It is a great place for jogging too.
Bois de Vincennes
The Bois de Vincennes is an English-styled park on the eastern fringes of Paris. It is well known for its pathways, lakes, gazebos and hilly picnic spots. There is also a farm, a zoo, and a fairground here. Open-air jazz concerts are held at a botanical park.
Parc Andre Citroen
This is one of the most well-known modern parks of the city. It is built on an area that was previously an industrial site, and has been named after Citroen, the automobile manufacturer. This park has a contemporary setting – there are touches of English, French and Japanese styles in the garden. There are theme gardens here, like an herbal garden and a children’s park.
A beautiful park in the 8th arrondissement, Parc Monceau was established by Phillippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, close friend of George IV, and anglophile. Hence, another charming English-style park where Monet once painted and where Berlioz was fond of strolling.
Parc de la Villette
Found along the quai in the 19th arrondisement, Parc de la Villette was designed by Bernard Tshumi under the guidance of none other than Jaqcues Derrida, the deconstuctionist philosopher. It is conceptualized to be a “non-space” without clearly defined monuments that tourists can take in on whirlwind tours. The most iconic elements of the park are the folies (seen in the picture above) and despite the heady concepts behind its inception, the large open spaces of Parc de la Villette are great for playing frisbee or having a picnic. It’s also right next to the science museum, Cité des Sciences.
If you’re like us, no doubt you’ve already been enjoying the summertime activities in Paris. In the Bassin de la Villette and Canal de L’Ourcq there are activities going on all summer, and it’s a great place to stroll with friends and family. Bring a picnic to the Parc de la Villette before seeing the great science museum, Cite de Sciences, or the always interesting music museum, Cite de la Musique. This is a great part of Paris that you shouldn’t miss out on; the sunsets near the Villette are especially nice. We should also mention that it’s a good place for jogging, if your so inclined.
Here are some of the activities you can participate in this summer:
If you’ve read Harry Potter, chances are you’ll remember the name Nicolas Flamel, friend of Dumbledore and possessor of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that he is not just the fantasy of Rowling’s mind; he indeed existed and he was considered one of the great alchemists of his time.
Part of the wealthy Parisian bourgeois from the mid-1300s to 1418, his official title was letter-writer and sworn-bookseller, but that didn’t explain the extent of his affluence. His marriage into wealth and real estate investments assured him a vast fortune; but rumors about its origins spread, and many suspected he used alchemy to create his riches. After his death he left behind several properties, and he gave considerable amounts of money to charities and churches. Because of the amounts he bequeathed, rumors about his dabbling in the metallurgical arts grew to legendary proportions.
One of his properties was a hostel at 51 rue de Montmorency, where he and his wife cared for the sick. Not only is this spot of interest because it belonged to one of Paris’ most mysterious denizens, it is also the oldest house in all of Paris, dating back to 1407. Nowadays there’s a pricey bistro on the premises, but one can still pass by to view this corner of Parisian history.