World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000060122
Reproduction Date:

Title: Montmartre  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Maurice Utrillo, Paris, Moulin Rouge, Marie-Jacques Perrier, History of Paris
Collection: 18Th Arrondissement of Paris, Artist Colonies, Districts of Paris, Montmartre, Visitor Attractions in Paris
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


for the restaurant in Hollywood see Café Montmartre.
Montmartre, dominated by the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur
Montmartre is located in Paris
Location of Montmartre in Paris

Montmartre (French pronunciation: ​) is a hill in the north of Paris, France. It is 130 metres high and gives its name to the surrounding district, in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. The historic district established by the City of Paris in 1995 is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north; rue de Clignancourt on the east; boulevard Clichy and boulevard Rochechouart to the south; and rue Caulaincourt to the on the west, containing sixty hectares.[1] Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded.

Many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is also the setting for several hit films. This site is served by metro line 2 stations of Anvers, Pigalle and Blanche and the line 12 stations of Pigalle, Abbesses, Lamarck - Caulaincourt and Jules Joffrin.


  • Name origin 1
  • History 2
    • 19th century 2.1
  • Artists gather 3
  • Contemporary Montmartre 4
  • Montmartre in films 5
  • Main sights 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8

Name origin

The toponym Mons Martis ("Mount of Mars" in Latin) survived into Merovingian times, Christianised as Montmartre,[2] signifying 'mountain of the martyr'; it owes this name to the martyrdom of Saint Denis,[3] who was decapitated on the hill around 250 AD. Saint Denis was the Bishop of Paris and is a patron saint of France.


Saint-Pierre de Montmartre (1133) seen from the dome of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur.
The Moulin de la Galette, painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887. (Carnegie Museum of Art).

Archeological excavations show that the heights of Montmartre was occupied from at least Gallo-Roman times. Texts from the 8th century cite the name of mons Mercori (Mount Mercury), and a 9th-century text speaks of Mount Mars. Excavations in 1975 north of the Church of Saint-Pierre found coins from the 3rd century and the remains of a major wall. Earlier excavations in the 17th century at the Fontaine-du-But (2 rue Pierre-Dac) found vestiges of Roman baths from the 2nd century.[4]

The butte owes its particular religious importance to the text entitled Miracles of Saint-Denis, written before 885 by Hilduin, Abbot of the monastery of Saint-Denis, which recounted how Saint Denis, a Christian bishop, was decapitated on the hilltop in 250 AD on orders of the Roman prefect Fescennius Sisinius for preaching the Christian faith to the Gallo-Roman inhabitants of Lutetia. According to Hilduin, Saint Denis collected his head and carried it as far as the fontaine Saint-Denis (on modern Impasse Girandon), then descended the north slope of the hill, where he died. Hilduin wrote that a church had been built "In the place formerly called Mont de Mars, and then, by a happy change, 'Mont des Martyrs'."[4]

In 1134, King Louis VI purchased the Merovingian chapel and built on the site the church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, still standing. He also founded The Royal Abbey of Montmartre, a monastery of the Benedictine order, whose buildings, gardens and fields occupied most of Montmartre. He also built a small chapel, called the Martyrium, at the site where it was believed that Saint Denis had been decapitated. It became a popular pilgrimage site. In the 17th century a priory called L'abbaye d'en bas was built at that site, and in 1686 it was occupied by a community of nuns. [4]

The Abbey was destroyed in 1790 during the French Revolution, and the convent was destroyed to make place for gypsum mines. The church of Saint-Pierre was saved. At the place where the chapel of the Martyrs was located (now 11 rue Yvonne-Le Tac), an oratory was built in 1855. It was renovated in 1994.[4][5]

By the 15th century, the north and northeast slopes of the hill were the site of a village surrounded by vineyards, gardens and orchards, growing peach and cherry trees. The first mills were built on the western slope in 1529, grinding wheat, barley and rye. There were thirteen mills at one time, though by the late nineteenth century only two mills remained,[4]

During 1590 Siege of Paris, part of the French Wars of Religion, the hills at Montmartre were used by Henry IV to place his artillery where they could fire down into the city. The siege eventually failed when a large relief force approached and forced Henry to withdraw.

In 1790, Montmartre was located just outside the limits of Paris. That year, under the new revolutionary government, it became the Commune of Montmartre, with its town hall located on Place du Tertre, where the old Abbey had been. The main businesses of the Commune were vineyards, stone quarries and equine, which he dubbed Palaeotherium, the "ancient animal". His sketch of the entire animal in 1825 was matched by a skeleton discovered later.[7]

19th century

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, Montmartre, Paris.
The Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876) showed a Sunday afternoon dance in Montmartre.

Russians soldiers occupied Montmartre when invading Paris in the course of the Battle of Paris (1814). They used the altitude of the hill for artillery bombardment of the city.

Montmartre remained outside of the city limits of Paris until January 1, 1860, when it was annexed to the city along with other communities surrounding Paris, and became part of the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

In 1871 Montmartre was the place where the revolutionary uprising of the Paris Commune began. During the Franco-Prussian War, the French army had stored a large number of cannon in a park at the top of the hill, near where the Basilica is today. On 18 March 1871, the soldiers from the French Army tried to remove the cannon from the hilltop. They were blocked by members of the politically-radicalized Paris National Guard, who captured and then killed two French army generals, and installed a revolutionary government that lasted two months. The heights of Montmartre were retaken by the French Army with heavy fighting at the end of May 1871, during what became known as "Bloody Week".[8]

In 1870 the future French prime minister during World War I,

  • Sarmant, Thierry (2012). Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation. Editions Jean-Paul Gisserot.  
  • Dictionnaire Historique de Paris. Le Livre de Poche. 2013.  
  • Vie quotidienne a Montmartre au temps de Picasso, 1900-1910 (Daily Life on Montmartre in the Times of Picasso) was written by Jean-Paul Crespelle, an author-historian who specialized in the artistic life of Montmartre and Montparnasse.


  1. ^ Dictionnaire historique de Paris, p. 476
  2. ^ Bailey K. Young, "Archaeology in an Urban Setting: Excavations at Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre, Paris, 1975-1977" Journal of Field Archaeology 5.3 (Autumn 1978:319-329) p 321: "The tradition that a Temple of Mars stood on the south bluff and a Temple of Mercury farther west was known to Early Modern érudits.
  3. ^ The "place called the mont of Mars, now by a happy mutation known as the Mont of Martyrs", Miracles of Saint Denis (831) quoted in Young 1978:321 note5.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dictionnaire historique de Paris, p. 477.
  5. ^ Bailey K. Young, "Archaeology in an Urban Setting: Excavations at Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre, Paris, 1975-1977", Journal of Field Archaeology 5.3 (Autumn 1978), pp. 319-329. The retaining wall of Sacré-Cœur (constructed in 1875) stands at the eastern edge of the much-reduced monastery site.
  6. ^ Dictionnaire historique de Paris, p. 476.
  7. ^ Knell, Simon J.; Suzanne Macleod; Sheila E. R. Watson, Museum revolutions: how museums and change and are changed Routledge, 1967, ISBN 0-415-44467-5, ISBN 978-0-415-44467-5.
  8. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 196.
  9. ^ Milza, Pierre, L'année terrible - La Commune (mars-juin 1871)
  10. ^ Dictionnaire historique de Paris, p. 478
  11. ^ Dictionaire historique de Paris, (2013), La Pochotheque, (ISBN 978-2-253-13140-3)
  12. ^ Dictionaire Historique de Paris, pp. 476-480
  13. ^ Django Reinhardt - Swing De Paris. 6 Oct. 2012. Exhibit. La Cité de la musique, Paris.
  14. ^ Information on the Clos Montmartre by Syndicat d'Initiative, retrieved 2008-09-26


Main sights

  • The Heart of a Nation (released 1943) features a family resident in Montmarte from 1870 to 1939.
  • An American in Paris (1951), with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, was the winner of the Oscar for the best film of 1951. Many important scenes, including the last scenes, take place in Montmartre, although most of the film was shot in Hollywood.
  • Moulin Rouge told the story of the life and lost loves of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
  • French Cancan (1954), a French musical comedy with Jean Gabin and Maria Felix, takes place in Montmartre, and tells the story of the Moulin Rouge and the invention of the famous dance. The director, Jean Renoir, was the son of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted several important works while living in Montmartre.
  • Amélie (2001) the story of a young Parisian woman determined to help the lives of others and find her true love, is set in Montmartre and includes a key scene in the gardens below the Basilica.
  • Moulin Rouge! (2001) a musical film set in Montmartre, is about the night club and a young writer who falls in love with a famous courtesan.
  • La Môme, (2007) (La vie en rose) tells the life of French singer Edith Piaf who was discovered while singing in Pigalle. bordering on Montmartre.

Montmartre in films

Downhill to the southwest is the red-light district of Pigalle. That area is, today, largely known for a wide variety of stores specializing in instruments for rock music. There are also several concert halls, also used for rock music. The actual Moulin Rouge theatre is also in Pigalle, next to Blanche métro station.

A funicular railway, the Funiculaire de Montmartre, operated by RATP, ascends the hill from the south while the Montmartre Bus circles the hill.

Montmartre is an officially designated historic district with limited development allowed in order to maintain its historic character.

Just off the top of the butte, Espace Dalí showcases surrealist artist Salvador Dalí's work. Nearby, day and night, tourists visit such sights as the artists in Place du Tertre and the cabaret du Lapin Agile. Many renowned artists are buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre and the Cimetière Saint-Vincent.

The Musée de Montmartre is in the house where the painter Maurice Utrillo lived and worked in a second-floor studio. The mansion in the garden at the back is the oldest hotel on Montmartre, and one of its first owners was Claude Roze, also known as Roze de Rosimond, who bought it in 1680. Roze was the actor who replaced Molière, and, like his predecessor, died on stage. The house was Pierre-Auguste Renoir's first Montmartre address and many other names moved through the premises.

[14] in the Rue Saint-Vincent, which continues the tradition of wine production in the Île de France; it yields about 500 litres per year.vineyardThere is a small
Vineyard in the Rue Saint-Vincent; the day of the Feast of gardens, 15 days after harvest.

In La Bohème (1965), perhaps the best-known song by popular singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour, a painter recalls his youthful years in a Montmartre that has ceased to exist: Je ne reconnais plus/Ni les murs, ni les rues/Qui ont vu ma jeunesse/En haut d'un escalier/Je cherche l'atelier/Dont plus rien ne subsiste/Dans son nouveau décor/Montmartre semble triste/Et les lilas sont morts ('I no longer recognize/Neither the walls nor the streets/That had seen my youth/At the top of a staircase/I look for a studio-apartment/Of which nothing survives/In its new décor/Montmartre seems sad/And the lilacs died'). The song is a farewell to what, according to Aznavour, were the last days of Montmartre as a site of bohemian activity.

The stairs of the Rue Foyatier
The Montmartre "petit train" doing its rounds near the Moulin Rouge cabaret.
The view from the butte looking towards Centre Georges Pompidou

Contemporary Montmartre

Among the last of the neighborhood’s bohemian gathering places was R-26, an artistic salon frequented by Josephine Baker, Le Corbusier and Django Reinhardt. Its name was immortalized by Reinhardt in his 1947 tribute song "R. vingt-six".[13]

The last of the bohemian Montmartre artists was Gen Paul (1895–1975), born in Montmartre and a friend of Utrillo. Paul's calligraphic expressionist lithographs, sometimes memorializing picturesque Montmartre itself, owe a lot to Raoul Dufy.

Artists' associations such as Les Nabis and the Incoherents were formed and individuals including Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Brissaud, Alfred Jarry, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Suzanne Valadon, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen, and African-American expatriates such as Langston Hughes worked in Montmartre and drew some of their inspiration from the area.

Many notable artists lived and worked in Montmartre, where the rents were low and the atmosphere congenial, during the Belle Époque from 1872 to 1914. Pierre-Auguste Renoir rented space at 12 rue Cartot in 1876 to paint Bal du moulin de la Galette, showing a dance at Montmartre on a Sunday afternoon. Maurice Utrillo lived at the same address from 1906 to 1914, and Raoul Dufy shared an atelier there from 1901 to 1911. The building is now the Musée de Montmartre.[11] Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and other artists lived and worked in a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir during the years 1904–1909. Picasso painted one of his most important masterpieces, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, there. Several noted composers, including Erik Satie, lived in the neighbourhood. Most of the artists left after the outbreak of World War I, the majority of them going to the Montparnasse quarter.[12]

Théophile Steinlen's famous advertisement for the tour of Le Chat Noir cabaret

Artists gather

By the 19th century, the butte was famous for its cafes, Mistinguett, Fréhel, Jane Avril, Damia.

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1919 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation for the suffering of the city during the Paris Commune and the 1871 Franco-Prussian War. Its white dome is a highly visible landmark in the city, and just below it artists still set up their easels each day amidst the tables and colourful umbrellas of Place du Tertre.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Fair are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.