Montmartre is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Paris so there is no surprise that this area is a favorite among tourists.
The word “Montmartre” is translated to mean “mountain of the martyr”. It was derived from the martyrdom of Saint Denis, the bishop of Paris, who was decapitated atop the hill in 250 AD. While there is no archeological data to support this notion, some historical observers believe Montmartre goes back to prehistoric times when it would have served as a druidic holy place due to its elevation in the area. In 1590, Henry IV used the hill as a fortress to defend Paris during a siege. Russian forces actually occupied the hill as well during the Battle of Paris in 1814. During the 1700′s and 1800′s, Montmartre was utilized for its many gypsum mines. At the end of the 19th century however, entertainment found its way to Montmartre. This had much to do with the hill being outside the Paris city limits, and thus it was exempt from taxes.
The highest point of Paris is topped by the famous Church of Sacré – Coeur. Parts of the ancient quarter on its slopes were long a favorite residence of the bohemian world. Until the 20th century, Montmartre retained a rural look and provided material for Van Gogh, Utrillo, and other artists who had their artist studios there. On any given night one could find Johan Jongkind or Camille Pissarro there.
An association of artists even grew during this time named Les Nabis and the Incoherent. This group consisted of avant-garde Post Impressionist individuals such as Henri Matisse, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Montmartre is also famed for its nightlife: among its many nightclubs is the Moulin Rouge. The cemetery of Montmartre contains the tombs of Stendhal, Renan, Heine, Berlioz, and Alfred de Vigny. The town of Montmartre was annexed to Paris in 1860. The hill, a natural fortress, played a military role during the Paris Commune in 1871 and other periods.
Today in the Rue Saint-Vincent region of Montmartre vineyards still exist providing an output of approximately 500 liters of wine annually. The Museé de Montmartre still stands there. It is now the oldest hotel in the area.
Espace Dali is one of the more popular tourist attractions on Montmartre. It is now a museum exhibiting the works of Salvador Dali. Most prominently displayed are his engravings and sculptures. All told there are 300 original pieces of artwork available for viewing.
As a designated historic area, little development is allowed in Montmartre so it has retained much of its character and village-like charm. We welcome you to Monmartre!