I’m becoming quite a Paris Walks aficionado. This is my fourth tour, and not my last. I’ve stayed in Montmartre before, but there is always more to be learned, and I enjoy increasing my brain power. If you think to yourself, “I don’t like Montmartre. It is so touristy and full of hagglers,” you are somewhat right. If you trek up to Place du Tertre or the basilica you will find this version of Montmartre. Just as with any place, there is always another side. Today’s tour took us through the back streets to the Montmartre of artists like Van Gogh, Lautrec, Renoir, Utrillo, Modigliani, and Picasso.
The first thing you must know about visiting Montmartre is the secret about the Abbesses metro station. TAKE THE ELEVATOR (unless you really love flights and flights of stairs). I chuckle listening to others complain about the endless stairs because I have made the same mistake. Save your energy for the other gluteus maximus busting hills and steps.
Our guide, Chris, was the funniest guide so far. I appreciated his sarcasm and corny humor. I think kids would even appreciate this tour. I did.
Top Facts Learned:
-Van Gogh’s style developed in Montmartre. He didn’t start painting till he was 27 (hey, that is my age!), and he died at 37. He spent 6 years painting in the typical Flemish style and added light the last 4 years of his life.
-Van Gogh and Lautrec were good friends.
-Lautrec’s disorder stems from his parents being first cousins and a horseback riding accident that resulted in two broken legs which stopped growth.
-Lautrec wore a hat because his scull did not connect in the middle, creating a sensitive area.
-One of the elements that makes absinthe so addictive is the ritual of lighting the sugar cube and pouring the absinthe over it.
-Louise Weber started the can-can. It is said that she was inventing a game with the gentlemen (who loved her). The men had to sit absolutely still while she would kick off their hats as they lined up. How radical of her to reveal her knickers. At least she was wearing some…
-Papa Freddy owned the Lapin Agile cabaret. Sometimes artists would pay for drinks with paintings. He sold one Picasso for about $20. That same painting sold for about $41 million in 1989.
-Although this one isn’t artist related, it is worth knowing. Be careful at the base of Montmartre for men that will grab your arm and start wrapping a bracelet around your wrist. Once they tie it on, they argue that you have to pay for it. Just be firm, and if you see someone approaching, say no. I feel so mean lately, but we have to be if we don’t want to be taken advantage of.
I hope you enjoy my photos today. The sky was blah in the beginning, but proved to be more interesting later.