Along the Rue des Abbesses to Métro Abbesses and its Art Nouveau entrance
Point 13 Studio 28, 10 Rue Tholozé
We leave the van Gogh and Degas residences behind and continue to walk down Rue Lepic which now merges with Rue des Abbesses. Rue des Abbesses is a lively street busy with cafés, restaurants and small businesses. A little after where the two streets merge take the first left, this is Rue Tholozé.
The Studio 28, established in 1928 but actually located at number 10, was a meeting point for painters, writers and cinematographers associated with the Surrealist movement. If you look up to the top of the street you will see of the Blute-Fin windmill again this time framed by Rue Tholozé. This part of Rue des Abbesses runs parallel to Rue Lepic which we came down earlier in the walk.
Point 14 Métro Abbesses
Turn at the cinema and go back down Rue Tholozé. Rejoin Rue des Abbesses turning left. We now continue straight ahead and arrive at the starting point, Métro Abbesses.
Place des Abbesses was named to commemorate the Benedictine Nuns (the Abbaye Royale de Montmartre) who had a chapel and land in Montmartre. It was here that St Denis was said to have been martyred. Whilst the edifice was destroyed during the Revolution and the ground mined for gypsum, their memory lingers in the name of the Place des Abbesses.
Art Nouveau métro entrance
Now take a closer look at the métro entrance. It is one of only three remaining original Hector Guimard métro constructions.
Guimard remains the most famous exponent of the Art Nouveau style in France. He won the competition to design the new métro entrances in 1900. His constructions employed the organic sinuous lines of the international Art Nouveau design movement.
His project was to marry industrial prefabrication, an art form and public architecture. The result is a fluid structure of iron and glass recalling the tracery of branches against the sky or perhaps the veins of an insect’s wing. It hovers over the métro entrance allowing the natural light to flood in as we emerge from the artificial underground world of the Paris Métro system.
The North/South Métro linking Montmartre to Montparnasse
The Métro Abbesses was opened in 1911 as part of the North-South network running from the Left Bank (south) of Paris to the Right Bank (north). The line is noted for its tile work on, for example, the station names and the frames surrounding these.
The company made an effort to welcome its clients with a distinctive and agreeable environment. That effort is still visible today. The route thus linked the two most famous centres for artistic innovation: Montmartre and Montparnasse. The line must have facilitated the exodus of artists from Montmartre to Montparnasse, which from about the end of the First World War, then became the centre of artistic gravity in Paris.
The brick and reinforced concrete St. John the Evangelist Church.
Opposite the Abbesses Métro is St Jean l’Evangeliste de Montmartre (St. John the Evangelist) Church. It also dates from the Art Nouveau epoch and features some of its characteristic flourishes. It was one of the first churches to use reinforced concrete in its design.
It is worth a look inside. The concrete has allowed the architect to lighten and multiply the load-bearing pillars and arches.
The information panel put up by the Mayor of Paris reads:
‘The Church of St John the Evangelist
Built between 1894 and 1904 at the request of the priest of St Pierre of Montmartre whose parish appeared to him to cover too large an area, Paris’ first modern church is the work of a follower of Labrouste: Anatole de Baudot.
An innovator, in his own way, this conventional theorist, was born in Sarrebourg in 1834 and died, officially recognised and decorated, in 1915. His idea for architecture was to build economically in tune with the social needs of a rapidly developing industrial society. Rationalist, progressive and possessing an important influence over his students, he dared to introduce cast iron and reinforced concrete into his projects.
In his writing he also attacked the practice of hiding architectural structure and modern materials. In the year of the church’s opening, 1904, he published “Architecture and Reinforced Cement”, a book that bears witness to a rapidly changing period in history, fertile with new research and innovation, which ended with the outbreak of the First World War.
Whilst visitors appeared sometimes shocked to the point of heated argument, expert artistic opinion was unanimous in acknowledging the originality of the project. The Eastern inspired decoration married to the “Modern-Style” (a reference to Art Nouveau), contrasting with a traditional design, executed on two different levels because of the steepness of the hill.’
For wheelchair users, please return to end of wheelchair circuit.
The end of the walk In the Footsteps of the Artists
We have now come to the end of our tour but before we leave the circuit ‘In the Footsteps of the Artists’ round Montmartre, why not follow them one last time into a café. Following the route: climbing, descending all the time on uneven cobbles, not to mention reading my text is hard work; if you have made it this far you deserve a break.
A couple of cafés on the Rue des Abbesses
If you are looking for a drink or something to eat then there are plenty of cafés to chooses from: I’ve had coffee in the St Jean a little way back along Rue des Abbesses and Le Village which is about half way along Rue des Abbesses. They were both good with a mixture of tourists and locals. The few times I’ve been there I’ve found Le Village small but friendly, just mind your elbows. Both are liable to get crowded around lunchtime as the French go to the café for déjeuner (lunch).
Being in Montmartre
I hope that you have found this tour of Montmartre interesting; if you are on holiday then enjoy the rest of your time.
Perhaps, knowing now where the artists worked and walked, you will take the time to see and experience some of the paintings in the museums here in Paris and elsewhere in the world. As you enjoy your drink in Montmartre, I hope that the walk has evoked a little of the spirit of the artists who lived here then, and deepened the experience of seeing and being in Montmartre now.
For wheelchair users return to point 2 on disabled route.
For wheelchair users return to end of wheelchair circuit.