Europe

Secrets of Montmartre

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When visiting a city, you will find tourists all over the city but you won’t find them in secret corners. Tourists stick to their map and the tourist spots. I like being a tourist but I like to get lost sometimes. Also, I like to find out a bit more about certain places. There’s always a story behind it.

Secrets of today? Paris. I went to visit the Parisian neighborhood Montmartre. I had little time but I still managed to see some interesting things. Montmartre is a large hill in the 18th arrondissement and is known for its basilica the Sacré Coeur.

It is an artistic neighborhood and many painters and writers found inspiration in the picturesque setting of this charming hill.

Montmartre used to be a small village, surrounded by fields, windmills and vineyards. It sounds lovely but it has transformed into one of the most vibrant and touristic neighborhoods in Paris.

Le Moulin Rouge

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The Moulin Rouge is a well known cabaret in Paris and it was founded in 1889. During the first years, the theatre was known for its champagne-filled parties and famous dancers. It was also during that time that the French Cancan was born. In 1915, a fire destroyed the building and it has been rebuilt. During the Second World War, it became famous as a place where several famous artists, such as Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, held their performance. After renovations in the 50s, it became the place it is today: a place to enjoy shows while dining. Don’t let the neighborhood fool you – it has changed a lot throughout the years and it is now situated in the current Red Light District. Tickets are expensive and must be reserved in advance.

Le moulin de la galette

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Yes, this is a windmill. No, we’re not in the Netherlands – we’re still in Paris. You can find the Galette Mill, or in French le Moulin de la Galette, in the rue Lepic. It is the last of 30 mills which formerly decorated the Montmartre Hill. It was built in the 17th century and owned by the Debray family. This family was famous for their business in a typical brown bread, also galette. In the 19th century, the mill was transformed into a place for dancing and entertainment. A lot of famous people found their way to the mill and it was a piece of inspiration for painters as Van Gogh. As the years went by and the city transformed, so did the windmill. It is now a restaurant.

Le passe-muraille

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The man who walks through walls, or le passe-muraille, was created in 1989 by French actor Jean Marais as a tribute to the French novelist Marcel Aymé. Le passe-muraille is a fictive character in one of his novels. This character, mr. Dutilleul, is a clerk who doesn’t like his job. One day he discovers that he has the gift of walking through walls. He uses this talent at work, at home, he keeps using it over and over again until one day his talent seems to be disappeared, just as he’s walking through a wall, leaving him trapped into the wall. This sculpture can be found in the rue Norvin.

Unknown

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I found this pretty little sculpture somewhere on a wall along the way. I thought it was inspirational and it looks like a symbol of peace. However, I couldn’t find anything about it. Do you know the story behind it? Do let me know.

Comments

  1. johannaowlette Reply

    Nice article! If you like to discover secrets in cities, try the guide books from Editions Jonglez. Lisbon, Paris, London, Amsterdam,… all quirky and quaint spots to discover off the beaten track.

  2. Mooi! wij zijn ook nog net naar Montmartre geweest en hebben, naast de Sacre Coeur, ook weer enkele nieuwe plekjes ontdekt!

    • Dat is leuk om te horen! Het is zeker een goed idee om eens verder te kijken dan de Sacré Coeur. Er zijn nog zoveel andere dingen te zien en het is een mooie buurt. 😊

  3. Congratulations on “le passe-muraille”. Only a few know him. I also take that street to go up to Montmartre. Is is one of the the two best routes up. 🙂

      • Very creative. And a very nice way up to Montmartre. My father had the book in his library. I must have it now, somewhere. Haven’t read it yet, though. Un jour peut-être.

  4. Wow! The statue of Le passe-muraille, loved it. And I had no idea Moulin Rouge was in Paris. Thanks a lot. 🙂

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