Montmartre: An artist's palette

Tripoto
6th May 2015

Place du Tertre, David Giral Photography

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Montmartre Funicular

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Le Lapin Agile, painting by Raphaël Toussaint

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Le Lapin Agile, the building today

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Montmartre Cemetery

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Inside the Dali Museum

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Photo of the Moulin Rouge by Juanedc on Flickr

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Le Bateau-Lavoir

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Sacre-Cour Basilica

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette by Mahuya Paul

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris opens with a 3.5 minute postcard-view montage of Paris, showing the usual iconic tourist sites. According to Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, "Allen is saying: Pay attention — this is a special place, a place where magic can happen."

I went to Paris in search of that magic.

And I found it in Montmartre.

 Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette 1/5 by Mahuya Paul                   Photo of Montmarte by DeepakG on Flickr

We started our trip with a steep climb to the Sacré Cœur Basilica and could see the hill of Montmartre rising up ahead of us. There’s also an alternative way to get to the top if you’d rather avoid the steep climb. On the left side of the park, an automatic funicular railway carries passengers to the top of the hill. The trip just takes a minute and a half, but I think if you want to take in the essence of Montmartre, you start with the steps. :)

Once up on the hill, take a minute or two, to take in the magnificent views of Paris. On the steps in front of the church you’ll see lots people doing just that. And you can quickly see why: the view of the Parisian rooftops and the many landmarks of the city is unlike anything else in the world. If you can’t get enough of it consider returning after nightfall: the view of the city of lights only gets more spectacular after dark. During the day, however, you’ll get the chance to see many street performers doing tricks or playing music for the delight of the crowd. This is also a good time to pick up cheap souvenirs: if you haggle over the price a little you can get pretty good deals!

After you’re done taking in the views, turn the other way to admire the domes of the Sacré Cœur. If you’ve got time, it’s definitely worth exploring the interior of the church as well. The church features one of the largest mosaics in the world, and the domes are just as impressive seen from the inside. It’s also possible to climb to the top of the central dome, from which you’ll have an even better view of Paris and also of the Eiffel Tower.

Fun Fact: In part because of these views, the Sacré Coeur Basilica draws more yearly visitors than even the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette 2/5 by Mahuya PaulTwin views of the Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Photo by Florian Plag on Flickr

I had picked Montmartre simply because I wanted to go to the Dali Museum. What I did not realize is that it would transport me to a place that you see only in movies! The main square - Place du Tertre - is a bustling street with various artists thronging the place, small shops with colorful items, outdoor cafes, pizza places, and a high energy, happy vibe all around. Please check more pictures to understand what I mean. My sister got her caricature done from a 'real' Parisian artist and I tried out the Silhouette. Both turned out fantastic. One tip: Even though the artists charge 20 euros for any such sitting, we asked if they would do it for 10, and both of them agreed! I think basically they do it for the love of the art - not so much as a business. There was an artist selling the cylindrical tube in which we carried the rolled art work (3 euros). You get them for 2 in the nearby shops but they are not half as pretty. Or artistic. Our artist/seller even painted my sister's name on the tube.

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette 3/5 by Mahuya Paul

                                                                                      My sister getting her caricature done by a real Parisian artist. :)

The Espace Dali or Dali Museum is two minutes walk from the Place du Tertre. This was my first Dali museum visit and it was perfect. It features most of his famous works - the Space Elephant, Alice in Wonderland, a couple of versions of the Melting Time, Venus Giraffe and so on. Each creation was accompanied by a detailed write-up about the item. There is also a video that keeps playing - showing Dali and his genius, and his eccentricity. It's well worth the time. Entrance fee is 11 euros and you can spend around 30-40 mins and see the entire exhibition. There is a gift shop also where you can buy Dali artifacts at a reasonable price.

Look for the staircase with photo frames of clever Dali quotes.

That's me below with Dali's Vision of the Angel. I rechristened it as Thumbs up! How very original. :)                   

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette 4/5 by Mahuya Paul

The information center is right around the corner of Place du Tertre and you will get a small map with the major tourist spots. Do check out the Windmills of Montmartre, the vineyards, Le Lapin Agile - all in and around the area. Even the walk itself in the cobbled streets is an experience. Must, must visit.

This is one of the famous Windmills of Montmartre, only three original remain today. 

Photo of Montmartre: An artist's palette 5/5 by Mahuya Paul
There are many, many videos on youtube about Montmartre, but this one seemed most professional. So enjoy. You will find Part 2 in the same playlist on youtube, I hope. :)

Le Bateau-Lavoir ("The Boat Wash-house") is the nickname for a building in the Montmartre district that is famous in art history as the residence and meeting place for a group of outstanding early 20th-century artists, men of letters, theater people, and art dealers. The name Le Bateau-Lavoir was coined by French painter Max Jacob. The building was dark and dirty, almost seeming to be scrap pile rather than a dwelling. On stormy days, they swayed and creaked, reminding people of washing-boats on the nearby Seine River, hence the name.
Photo of Le Bateau-Lavoir, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Lapin Agile was a favorite spot for struggling artists and writers, including Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and Utrillo. It also was popular with questionable Montmartre characters including pimps, eccentrics, simple down-and-outers, a contingent of local anarchists, as well as with students from the Latin Quarter, all mixed with a sprinkling of well-heeled bourgeoisie out on a lark. Pablo Picasso's 1905 oil painting, "At the Lapin Agile" helped to make this cabaret world famous.
Photo of Au Lapin Agile, Rue des Saules, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Photo of Au Lapin Agile, Rue des Saules, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
A popular tourist destination, Montmartre Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous artists who lived and worked in the Montmartre area. Regardless of the time of year that you visit, Montmartre Cemetery is a beautiful place to see. It's also important to keep in mind that it is an active cemetery, so it is a busy place. There are numerous paths and roadways to wander on that will take you through the cemetery and your guided map will list the certain points of interest along the way. Montmartre Cemetery almost looks sunken, as it is below street level. There are numerous hills and steps inside the cemetery, which can make navigating a bit difficult, yet adventurous. It is open 7 days a week and the hours are regulated by the city of Paris.
Photo of Montmartre Cemetery, Avenue Rachel, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. It is immortalized by the works of Toulouse-Lautrec among others and marked by the red windmill on its roof. 
Photo of Moulin Rouge, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
The Montmartre funicular is an automatic funicular railway serving the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris. It provides an alternative to the multiple stairways of more than 300 steps that lead to the top of the Butte Montmartre. The funicular is open every day from 6 am until 12.45 am, transporting 6,000 people a day, or around 2 million a year, mostly tourists and pilgrims en route to the Sacré-Cœur, and also Parisians and those who love the ambience of the Place du Tertre.
Photo of Montmartre Funicular, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
The Espace Dalí is a permanent exhibition in France devoted to Salvador Dalí and more particularly to his sculptures and engravings. The museum, near the Place du Tertre in the Montmartre district of Paris, has around 300 original artworks. Sculptures such as Space Elephant or Alice in Wonderland are presented, and the visitor can also see other aspects such as Moses and monotheism, Memories of Surrealism, Don Quixote, etc. Music plays in the background, and there are creative workshops for children to give them the opportunity to become familiar with Dalí’s art.
Photo of Espace Dalí, Rue Poulbot, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Because of the magnificent views that it provides, the Sacré Coeur Basilica draws more yearly visitors than even the iconic Eiffel Tower. If you’ve got time, it’s definitely worth exploring the interior of the church as well. The church features one of the largest mosaics in the world, and the domes are just as impressive seen from the inside. It’s also possible to climb to the top of the central dome, from which you’ll have an even better view of Paris and also of the Eiffel Tower.
Photo of Sacré-Cœur, Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Montmartre, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Photo of Sacré-Cœur, Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Montmartre, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, The Place du Tertre is a square in the heart of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter. With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there.
Photo of Place du Tertre, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Photo of Place du Tertre, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
Photo of Place du Tertre, Paris, France by Mahuya Paul
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