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Montmartre — Topping Off Paris

Amelie Poulain put the romantic, authentic and whimsical “quartier” of Montmartre back on the map. She was the waif-like dreamy waitress in a Montmartre café, the central character in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s quirky French film, a homage to his neighborhood, where he has lived since 1975.

Montmartre comprises most of the west part the 18th arrondissement, surrounding the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, to the Cimetière de Montmartre on the west, to Pigalle on the south and boulevard Ney on the north. The hill rises 129 meters above sea level, affording breath taking views of the city of Paris.

Montmartre was first a sacred hill from the Roman Temples, whose name comes from the roman words “mount of martyrs” — “mons martirium” because it was the place of martydom of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris (late 3rd century) and his companions. Apparently, a burial ground of Christian martyrs’ bones was found there, and it is here that Saint Ignatius Loyola and Saint François-Xavier founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) there in 1534.

A great benedictine Abbey occupied the whole hill until the French Revolution at which time the nuns were guillotined and the Abbey destroyed. A village called Saint Peter’s survived in what was a former lime quarry in the late 18th century.

Montmartre is known today for the artists and artistic movements at the turn of the 20th century. The geniuses of the artistic revolution depicted mood and life in the area — a new view of the world with a different social attitude expressed impressionistically…Picasso is said to have painted the fist cubist work there — Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Toulouse Lautrec painted much about the cabaret life including many of the advertising posters for the Moulin Rouge and the Théâtre Aristide Bruant. Van Gogh was also there at one time.

The only vineyard alive and well in Paris is in Montmartre. One of the smallest in France, it covers 1,500 square meters off the Rue des Saules and was planted during the 1930’s, encouraged by the artist Poulbot, in conjunction with the township of Montmartre and even the intervention of the French President, to preserve a small patch of land from encroaching developers. Originally dubbed the “Square de la Liberte,” the vineyard is now owned by the community and cared for by gardeners of the city of Paris, who plant, nurture, screen and also harvest the grapes.

Today Montmartre is alive with new blood and new interest. While to some, the hill may seem remote from central Paris with limited Métro access (Abbesses and Lamarck-Caulaincourt being the two primary stations, both of which depend on elevators to transport riders to and from the street level exceptionally higher above the tracks than most), and th
e uphill/downhill steep streets and nev

er-ending staircases are not for the weak or lazy, those who live in Montmartre report they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It’s one of the few real “villages” left in Paris, with a sense of community and pride.

Little Amelie Poulain with her do-gooder tricks brought us back to Montmartre to discover its charm.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Properties here are still very affordable — 2786 Euro per square meter average (reported by the Chambre de Notaires de Paris for second quarter 2002 – second quarter 2003 as the second lowest in the city) but with an appreciation of 16.1% that same period (the 4th highest in the city). There are only a few agencies that rent Montmartre apartments on a short-term basis, but the ones that do seem to keep them well occupied and renters return regularly to be a part of this special corner of Paris.


Between Métro Abbesses and Sacré-Coeur, 14.60 m2 studio, newly renovated, with parquet, cable TV, corner kitcen, very pretty, on the first floor on the street, but bright and calm, reinforced door, double paned windows, renovation of the building already voted and paid. A perfect pied-à-terre.

Asking Price: 78,000 Euro + 2% Finder’s Fee

Serious inquiries, email: 30-1-04_Heart_of_Abbesses


Near Métro Jules-Joffrin or Lamarck-Caulaincourt, a two-room apartment of 33m2 in a beautiful bourgeois building on the 3rd floor, with central individual gas heating, parquet, moldings, fireplace, cellar,
digicode, interphone, and calm.

Asking Price: 150,000 Euro + 2% Finder’s Fee

Serious inquiries, email: 30-1-04_Heart_of_Abbesses



At the foot of la Butte Montmartre, on the 3rd floor (no elevator) in a building recently renovated, this 35m2 two-room apartment was recently entirely renovated, entrée, large kitchen, bath, salon with two windows overlooking a garden. Very bright unobstructed view of the square below. Calm. Cellar, digicode and interphone.

Asking Price: 161,000 Euro + 2% Finder’s Fee

Serious inquiries, email: 30-1-04_Butte_Mntmartre


3 to 4 rooms in 68m2, in a beautiful building on the 3rd floor facing east at the foot of Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt, with an elevator, gardienne, interphone and great views.

Asking Price: 350,633 Euro + 2% Finder’s Fee

Serious inquiries, email: 30-1-04_Fontaine_du_But


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