Montmartre (60)

The district of Montmartre is one of the most picturesque and typical of Paris. It seems almost removed from the city since it conserves part of its character of a small village. In fact, the village that stood on this hill did not eventually form part of Paris until 1860.

Situated in District XIII, Montmartre was already a place of worship for the Gauls and in the Middle Ages it became a place of pilgrimage dedicated to Saint Denis. The legend goes that in the great Parisian tradition, the evangeliser of Paris was beheaded here and that he walked headless to Catullanum, where he was buried. Catullanum currently corresponds to the site on which the basilica of Saint Denis stands. The name of the district is attributed to some local martyrs who were tortured around 250 A.D. Thus it was called Mons Martyrium.

In 1133 Montmartre came to belong to the Benedictine Order, whose possessions, known for their vineyards and mills, reached as far as the current District IX.

Over the centuries, Montmartre was a much sought-after area and was invaded several times. In 1590 it was Enrique of Navarra. The Cossacks invaded in 1814 and the English in 1815. 

During the 19th century the invasion that took place in Montmartre was much more peaceful. It became the ideal area for artists to seek refuge. Thanks to its snack bars and the painters that almost converted the district into an artistic colony, Montmartre took on legendary status. In its streets one can still find the mark left by painters such as Corot or Picasso. Brothels, cabarets, show venues met together with art. The district gradually attained the fame as a place of depravation.

Many visitors still climb up the narrow streets of the hill, la butte, in search of a bohemian atmosphere. Once there, in the biggest spaces you can find portrait painters and souvenir stands, such as the Place du Tertre, the old town square.

Montmartre is made up of tiny squares, winding narrow streets, picturesque corners, small terraces and long stairways. It is all crowned by the famous vineyard on the hill. The district becomes a festival in the first week of October to celebrate the grape harvest. Residents and friends come together to have a grand banquet at tables placed in the street.

Our recommendation is, as well as visiting the tourist sights, to get lost in its streets and discover the almost village-like atmosphere that still exists. 

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