.As I had mentioned in a previous post, Culinary Tour Changed My Mind About Montmartre, I have since returned and discovered even more interesting sites in this area. When I was recently in Paris, I had an adventure exploring the other side of Montmartre.
Many people hang out around the Moulin Rouge or Sacre Coeur and the very touristy area of Place du Tertre; however, there are some parts which are much less crowded and perhaps a little more interesting.
If you were not looking for some of these places, you might actually miss them. Yet they are worth seeking out and discovering a bit about their story. You can see this other side of Montmartre on your own. No tour guide needed.
Stairway at Metro Abbesses:
Who would have ever thought to check out a stairway coming up from the Paris metro in search of great art? When you arrive by Metro (Line 12) in Montmartre, try to exit via the staircase at Abbesses station as this is where you will discover some very colourful murals. The art nouveau station has a glass canopy and this was designed by Hector Guimard.
In 2007 the Paris Transport department (RAPT) commissioned artists to create the murals leading down to the Metro from the Abbesses entrance. The Abbesses has the deepest station in Paris, going 36 metres below ground level. The seven murals represent different aspects of Montmartre.
Mur des Je t’Aime
Isn’t Paris always about love? Certainly the mural, “Mur des Je t’Aime” (literally, “Mural of those I love” and known as “Wall of Love”), is homage to this most romantic city. Located in Square Jehan Rictus in Montmartre and the mural was created by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito.
There are 612 ceramic tiles where “I love you” in 250 different language is featured on about half of them. According to Wikipedia, the red accents are symbols of a broken heart.
I love some of the phrases written on the tiles, and while “Je t’aime” (I love you) is popular, this is the most prominent:
aimer c’est du desordre alors aimons” = “Love is a mess. So let’s love.
Le Passe-Muraille is a sculpture depicting ‘The Man Who Walked Through Walls”. It is located at Place Marcel Aymé and Rue Norvins. In 1943, Marcel Aymé wrote a short story about a man named Dutilleul who discovers that he can literally walk through walls. It’s a great story about a civil servant who seeks revenge on those who have given him a hard time at work. This bronze sculpture was created by Jean Marais in 1989.
Moulin de la Galette
The Moulin de la Galette has become quite famous due to Renoir’s painting (Bal du Moulin de la Galette) which shows Parisians hanging out at the Moulin. It was built in 1622 and throughout its history was involved in sieges and attacks by Prussians and Cosacks against the family that owned it. It became a cabaret in the 1800s. Today, the Moulin de la Galette is a restaurant (83, rue Lepic, 18th arr.).
When you are in Paris, consider exploring Montmartre– the other side of Montmartre– the side that is less touristy and much more creative.