Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Solo Trip to Paris Part 8: It Was Too Far to Walk

Modigliani, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Mondrian,  Picasso, Pissarro, and van Gogh--all the artists whose paintings I had loved and admired most of my life, the artists whose work I had sought to see in museums for the last few days, had all spent time in the Bohemian area of Montmartre. How could I leave Paris without visiting the place where art studios were inhabited by these great artists?

Unlike every other day of my trip, it was too far to walk to Montmartre, so I found the metro and was on my way.

This area is home of the Moulin Rouge and other night clubs where artists met to drink and share ideas about the twists and turns art was making as it left the romantic realism behind. Impressionism, post-impressionism were about to evolve into cubism and abstract expressionism.

This was the home of clubs and bars where Toulouse-Lautrec sketched and painted "ladies of the night." Where, no doubt, the other male artists frequently visited their favorite ladies as well.

Montmartre is where the Can-Can began and some of the most well-known posters  originated advertising the entertainment establishments.  Who wouldn't be drawn to the "Black Cat" for a late night drink?

Although this hill in Paris has a very long history, I was there to walk in the footprints of more recent history. My friend Toni recommended taking a walking tour which meant meeting a guide near a metro stop, then wandering around uphill and down through Montmartre.

This part of Paris was spared or ignored during the demolition and rebuilding of Paris in the second half of the 1800's. It has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years and is now protected as a historic district, with no development allowed.

There is a small vineyard in Montmartre, where about 135 gallons of wine are produced annually. The vineyard is owned by the city of Paris.

The Musée de Montmartre is housed in the oldest building in Montmartre, built in the 1600's. It was often the meeting place of artists such as Renoir and Bernard who had their studios in the building. It was turned into a museum in 1960.

This odd statue is based on a story about a man who had the capability of walking though walls. This allowed him to begin an affair with a married woman. When they heard her husband come home, the man would simply slip out of the house through a wall until one night his power failed him mid-exit.

The most impressive building of Montmartre is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and that is where the walking tour ended. This Romano-Byzantine style building is fairly new--began in 1875 and finished in 1914. It is a huge and complex structure that can be seen from miles away on it's perch at the base of the butte Montmartre. 

I entered the Basilica and enjoyed one last dose of the art of Paris before climbing down the hill to a metro stop. Then it was back to the hotel to pack up for an early flight. 

I had one last dinner, with wine, of course. As I made my final journal entry at the table, I felt overwhelmed with the thought that this adventure was coming to an end. At the end of the meal, the server took my hand and kissed it. He said in his lovely French accent, "I hope to see you again." The feeling is mutual!

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