Introduction to the lower Montmartre – Pigalle self-guided artists’ studios walk
This second walk around the lower Montmartre – Pigalle area is for anyone with an interest in the artists Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas or Picasso and Cubism or the beginnings of the Jazz Age in Paris. The walk takes you to the artists’ studios and apartments and the sites of the jazz clubs.
The walk is 2,2 kilometres or 1,4 miles long from the start at Abbesses Métro station to the end at site of the second Chat Noir cabaret (point 18). There are some light uphill and downhill sections and stairs at the start, but it is a less challenging route than the upper Montmartre walk.
Place Pigalle (Pigalle square) was named after the eighteenth century sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.
The Pigalle area became known as the Paris red light. The sex industry is in decline here with only some seedy premises strung out along Boulevard de Clichy. The area is considered safe during the day but take the usual city precautions.
The walk includes passing one or two red light premises when you cross Boulevard de Clichy at the beginning of the walk; the rest of it is through normal city streets. I leave it to your judgement as to whether you consider the walk suitable for children.
The South Pigalle area, which has witnessed considerable gentrification with middle class professionals moving in, is now known as SoPo. The boundaries of the SoPo quartier (neighbourhood) run roughly from Place Pigalle, down Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle to Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, down this street as far its junction with Rue des Martyrs and back up Rue des Martyrs as far as Boulevard de Clichy.
The area has many cocktail bars, cafés, restaurants, boutique hotels, clothes shops, health food shops, gyms and other lifestyle accessories and services for the image conscious.
Apartments, studios and Jazz Age addresses
In the walk we will be looking at a series of buildings which used to be the residences and studios of Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Picasso. There is also a section on 1920s Jazz Age Paris. We walk past the Moulin Rouge.
There are no museums or public entry spaces on the walk, all the addresses are now private apartments or hotels.
I believe that the walk is quite interesting but it is a less picturesque route than the upper Montmartre hill circuit.
I look at a selection of paintings which each of the artists created or was in the process of creating whilst living or working in the featured site. The idea of these longer thematic sections is to explore some of the artists’ projects, techniques, aspirations and thought processes.
For Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec the route either takes you to, or gives you directions to, every known address in Montmartre.
Two infographics: Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas
I have also produced two infographics; these link places and paintings for Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. The infographics are:
You are welcome to download these infographics but please credit the source or link to the walk or give the site a mention on any social media that you are connected to.
For wheelchair users
Because walk 1 the upper Montmartre walk is very hilly, I took time to map an alternative disabled route which followed a modified circuit.
This second lower Montmartre – Pigalle walk involves much less climbing and so I believe that most of it could be followed by someone in a wheelchair if accompanied. The only major difficulty would be the stairs at point 1. The Seurat studio site could be viewed by someone in a wheelchair from the top of the stairs.
A small detour via Rue Houdon marked in blue
I would then advise you to turn around and to roll back down Rue des Abbesses to its junction with Rue Houdon. Turn right into Rue Houdon. The street is quite steep (downhill) so you would have to be careful going down.
I have marked this short disabled detour in blue on the map. You would then follow exactly the same circuit as the normal route, going across Boulevard de Clichy to access point 2 (see map).
For much more disabled information on Montmartre and Paris please see my wheelchair route for the upper Montmartre walk. The Abbesses Métro is not accessible for wheelchair users. The information on the disabled route page also tells you about which bus to get to access Rue des Abbesses and hence this walk.
Combining the upper Montmartre walk with the lower Montmartre – Pigalle walk
Because the first upper Montmartre walk starts and ends at the Abbesses Métro station, if you are feeling energetic you might like to follow on with this, the lower Montmartre walk, on the same day.
Here is walk 1 the upper Montmartre route:
And walk 2 this the lower Montmartre – Pigalle route:
There are many cafés and restaurants on Rue Lepic and especially Rue des Abbesses (see map 1 upper Montmartre) where you could rest and gather force before setting out on the second walk.
By guiding you to specific sites I hope that the convergence of place, artist and associated works of art, plus a little creative imagination from you when you follow in their footsteps, will mean that you get a better understanding of the artistic legacy of Montmartre. Not so long ago Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and the jazz musicians all walked these streets too.
I hope that the walk will intensify and personalise your experience of being in Montmartre.