April in Paris is glorious, and that’s why there are songs about it.
And poetry, books, movies, operas, plays, drawings, photography, sculpture, tapestries and just about any other art form you can think of.
And blog posts, like this one.
I found the Musée de Montmartre & Jardins Renoir (Museum of Montmartre and Renoir’s Gardens) last April. I loved it so much that I went back in October and took a friend.
Located just down the street from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, it puts you square into the history of Montmartre in the “Belle Epoque” period (1870-1914) or Golden Age. The museum and gardens throb with a creative, imaginative and harmonious aesthetic that must be been the inspiration for the numerous artists and writers who lived and worked there in the era of impressionism.
From the web site:
These residences, surrounded by gardens, housed the workshops and ateliers of numerous artists such as Auguste Renoir, Émile Bernard, Raoul Dufy, Charles Camoin, Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo. The writers Pierre Reverdy and Léon Bloy also resided here, as well as the sculptor Demetrius Galanis. It is here that Julien François Tanguy, otherwise known as Père Tanguy, one of the first collectors of impressionist paintings practiced his trade as an art supplies dealer.
The museum is excellent, with really interesting exhibits throughout the charming and small rooms of the buildings. In addition to the artwork in the permanent collection, homage is paid to the cabaret, Le Chat Noir and the Moulin Rouge with artifacts and multimedia, including the history of the can-can in films. The bar below is a typical “zinc bar,” so-called because the tops of the bars were made from zinc.
The grounds are full of old stone walls and steps, inviting arches and passages that lead you from verdant terraced courtyards to flower gardens. I spent almost two hours just wandering around outside. It is an incredibly peaceful and yet stimulating setting.
Montmartre is situated at the highest point in Paris, and there are wonderful views of the city from the windows of the museum buildings and the back gardens.
But wait, there’s more! During the time Renoir’s studio was here, he painted The Swing.
The swing is still there. I found that really cool.
There is so much more to this museum than I’ve shared with you today. Hundreds of paintings are in the permanent collection and special exhibits bring Montmartre alive. You walk in thinking of it as the Montmartre of today, with the funicular and famous steps that take you up the hill, the unmistakable hulking white buildings of Sacré-Cœur, and the artists and shops in the square. You leave understanding the soul of the place.
I fell in love with the Musée de Montmartre in the springtime, came back in the fall, and hope to go back and see it in the summer. It is a glorious way to spend an afternoon in Paris.
© 2018 Glover Gardens