Tourist Guide Paris

Montparnasse

Founding

Montparnasse – the name alone contains something mysterious, and yet almost every tourist knows that in the early 20th Century one of the most visited artist’s districts of Paris was located here. Consequently, Montparnasse could only have emerged around 1760, as the city officials were charged with creating a large boulevard and hence the flattening of the hill top became necessary. Until that point this hill housed many students who cited all kinds of poems. Around 1910 well known artists like Picasso, Matisse and Amadeo Modigliani would dwell/linger almost daily on this historical boulevard. Until then, the most popular meeting place of the artists was the Café La Rotonde which even today is still a magical attraction.

The art of Montparnasse

After the First World War many artists tried to stay alive in the numerous cafes and bars. They would occupy a table for a few Francs and were not allowed to be disturbed – even when they were sleeping. If there came a time that they could not pay they simply pawned a picture to the host, until they had paid their bill. As a result even today many museums hope to acquire and display several of these now very valuable pictures, as many of these pictures were drawn by the true artists and could not be officially published.

Between the Wars

The time between the wars was especially difficult for the artists and so many later pieces of art were exchanged by the owners in return for a few Francs. However life on the hill soon had its familiar look of excitement, joy and art. Many street musicians also gathered here and would often collectively perform their repertoire for the visitors- and in so doing had already earned their food for the day. The Rue de la Gaîté was one of the liveliest streets with bars, nightclubs, and revue-theatres, in which predominantly soldiers would enjoy themselves during the times of German occupation. Many artists who were of Jewish origin were either murdered or taken to one of the concentration camps – never to be seen again.

What is happening today?

Nowadays there are still a few young artists to be seen and heard in the cafes; several of the artists are also poets and singers, and are able to earn a few Euros from the numerous spectators that constantly visit this famous district. Some of the well known cafes from the past still exist today and are sometimes open for 24 hours around the clock. Worth seeing is the Observatory and the smallest theatre in the world.