I have often wanted to get behind this gate…for many reasons. Finally…
One reason was to see the northern “mire”! It’s placed in the garden of what now is a private residence at Montmartre and which corresponds to the famous “Moulin de la Galette”. This “mire” has stood here since 1736 and is one of the two monuments you can find inside Paris to mark the French Meridian. The other one, the southern “mire” can be found in the Parc de Montsouris (see previous post).
I have already written about the French Meridian several times, e.g. after a visit to the Paris Observatory (see here). Maybe just a few words to remind you that the French Meridian (also sometimes referred to as the “Rose Line”) was defined in 1667 and later played an important role in the establishment of the metric system and the meter – introduced by the First French Republic in 1799 (and today adopted by all countries except Liberia, Myanmar… and the U.S.). In 1884, there was an international conference to decide on one Meridian – there were tens of them - and the British Greenwich Meridian became the international reference. (When the French agreed to abandon their line, there was a compensation granted by the British - a promise to go for the metric system; it took some time.)
In 1994 some 135 "Arago medallions" were placed along the line (many have been stolen since). François Arago (1786-1853) was a French astronomer (and much more) who - among many other things - helped determine the exactitude of the Meridian and the Meter. One of the medallions is placed in front of the “mire” and we can see that there has been a slight correction to the original line (see top picture).
Let us also remember that between the two remaining buildings and the two wind mills, “Blute-fin” and “Radet”, the owning family Debray decided in 1870 to establish a “guinguette” (small restaurant with music and dancing) when milling by the force of wind was not profitable anymore – the “Moulin de la Galette” was opened to public and became extremely popular for some decades.
Here we have again some illustrations by painters including one of the most famous Renoir ones and the first Paris painting sold by Picasso (see here). People could then walk around in the area and climb a platform of the “Blute-fin” mill, where later a dancing scene in “An American in Paris” with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron takes place (obviously shot in studio).