Previously it used to be even more exhausting to reach the top of Montmartre. It was after a visit to the very old church Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre (see previous post) - which after the Revolution had become a telegraph station – and when he had to finish by feet that Napoleon decided that a street allowing better access had to be made. This is the today’s Rue Lepic (named after one of Napoleon’s generals). This is perhaps not the street that most walking visitors of Montmartre would use, but it’s definitely an alternative. It will bring you to Place Jean-Baptiste Clément (I will revert) and then you have almost reached the touristic top (Rue Norvins, Place de Tertre, Sacré Coeur…).
If we suppose that we climb the street, the starting point is close to “Moulin Rouge” (see previous posts). Walking up the fist straight part of the street, there are a number of shops and bars, including the “Lux Bar” and the “Café des 2 Moulins”, where Amélie Poulain worked (see previous post).
This part of the street is very busy, but, again, if you push some doors you will be able to find some very calm courts.
Turning to the left, we reach the curbed part of the street. One first point of interest is the house where Vincent van Gogh lived (in his brother’s, Theo, flat) 1886-88. He made a few paintings of the view from the window.
Crossing the street, there used to be a covered market. The entrance doors are now closed, but you can push them and inside there are today a number of workshops.
Continuing our walk, there is today a mixture of buildings from the last centuries, but along the street (see plan above) is where you earlier could see a number of windmills of which Montmartre was more or less covered. We can see them illustrated on some old engravings, but also on paintings by some famous artists.
Today, there are only two windmills left. I wrote about their history in previous posts.
Here are some pictures from the street, the side streets (and stairs) – on which I may revert in later posts, walking upwards.
The further we climb and, especially when we reach Place Jean-Baptiste Clément, the greener it gets.
This is also where Jean-Baptiste Clément lived his last 18 years. He died in 1903 and had a past as a “communard” (participating in the 1871 “Paris Commune”). He’s especially famous as author of the lyrics to one of the most famous French songs, “Le temps des cérises” (The cherry season), which although it’s rather about love has also become some kind of a revolutionary song.