Pigalle Montmartre Artists Self-Guided Walking Tour

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.

An OpenStreetMap showing the lower Montmartre Pigalle area of Paris. A walking route is shown. It leads to where Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Picasso lived and worked. Other sites include where 1920s jazz clubs used to be.
The route around the lower Montmartre Pigalle area. All known apartments and studios for Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas are indicated. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).
Keys to the symbols used on the lower Montmartre – Pigalle route map
Keys to lower Montmartre – Pigalle route. © David Macmillan.

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

Place Pigalle (Pigalle square) was named after the eighteenth century sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.

The Pigalle area became known as the Paris red light district but 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.

SoPo Pigalle

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.

A row of restaurants and cafés on Rue Henry Monier in the South Pigalle (SoPo) area of Montmartre.
Typical South Pigalle (SoPo) scene.

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.

For Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec the route either takes you to, or gives you directions to, every known address in Montmartre.

From point 4 I’ve decided to group the information thematically and these main themes are:

People and places in 1920s Jazz Age Paris covering:

• Point 5
• Point 11
• Point 12

Toulouse-Lautrec residences, studios, paintings and posters:

• Point 6
• Point 8
• Point 9
• Point 10
• Point 15

Degas residences, studios, paintings and pastels:

• Point 7
• Point 10
• 21 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle
• 23 Rue Ballu
• Point 13
• Point 14
• Point 17

An OpenStreetMap showing the lower Montmartre Pigalle area of Paris. A walking route is shown. It leads to where Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Picasso lived and worked. Other sites include where 1920s jazz clubs used to be.
The route around the lower Montmartre Pigalle area. All known apartments and studios for Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas are indicated. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).
Keys to the symbols used on the lower Montmartre – Pigalle route map
Keys to lower Montmartre – Pigalle route. © David Macmillan.

The idea of these longer thematic sections is to explore some of the artists’ projects, techniques, aspirations and thought processes.

I have also produced two infographics; these link places and paintings for Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. The infographics are:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s studios, apartments and selected works in Pigalle
Edgar Degas’ studios, apartments and selected works in Pigalle

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 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.

An OpenStreetMap showing the lower Montmartre Pigalle area of Paris. A walking route is shown. It leads to where Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Picasso lived and worked. Other sites include where 1920s jazz clubs used to be.
The route around the lower Montmartre Pigalle area. All known apartments and studios for Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas are indicated. The wheelchair detour route is indicated in blue. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).
Keys to the symbols used on the lower Montmartre – Pigalle route map
Keys to lower Montmartre – Pigalle route. © David Macmillan.

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 so 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.

Detailed OpenStreetMap map of the Montmartre area of Paris. The circular route and points of interest of the walk In The Footsteps of the Artists are indicated. The walk includes the Bateau Lavoir, the Moulin de la Galette and the Montmartre Museum. The circuit is indicated by an orange broken line with arrows indicating the direction
Route and points of interest of the upper  Montmartre walking tour ‘In the Footsteps of the Artists’. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).
personalised keys to the OpenStreetMap map of the walk In the Footsteps of the Artists around Montmartre.
Keys to sights and directions. © David Macmillan.

There are many cafés and restaurants on Rue Lepic and especially Rue des Abbesses where you could rest and gather force before setting out on the second walk.

A ‘light’ version of the lower Montmartre – Pigalle walk

If you simply wish to see where these painters lived and get a little contextual information without much detail then please follow the ‘light’ version and description of the route.

If you choose you can then follow the links to the more detailed content which will tell you more about the famous works painted there.

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.