Have you ever wondered why artists congregate in Montmartre, the lively hill top village of Paris? They’re there to draw the visitors who flock to this oh-so pretty part of the city of light but why here, in this particular spot?
Around 300 painters are officially licensed to work the area and there’s a 10 year waiting list for new artists to be able to work here. Many of the artists are assigned just one square metre to set up their easel. They have to share the space with other artists. Many of them work shifts so they make maximum use of the precious space they’ve been allotted.
When you visit Montmartre you certainly won’t find it hard to find someone to capture your image on paper for ever and though rates differ you should expect to pay not less than 70 Euros for a drawing or painting.
But why are the artists there?
The legacy of artists in Montmartre
When Napoleon III was on the throne he was prone to giving land to his friends and followers. The land was often in the centre of Paris, resulting in the eviction of the poor who were occupying houses that were to be gentrified. If the French thought that getting rid of the Royal Family was going to mean someone else ruled in a fairer way – they were wrong there.
The homeless residents tended to move out of the centre and into the outskirts and Montmartre was a popular option. Bars, cafés and cabarets sprung up to cater for the new tenants and creative types were drawn to the lively pace of the town on top of the hill. From the mid 1800s, artists began to find in Montmartre the sort of home where they could thrive and have a good time. Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are just a few of those who made their home on the hill.
In fact you can visit Renoir’s old home at 13 rue Cortot. It’s now the museum of Montmartre and it makes for a fascinating visit with views over Montmartre and a secret vineyard next door that are spell-binding.
Basically, the artistic vibe never left the area and the legends of the past left their legacy in the form of today’s artists who roam the streets, earning a living, painting, drawing and following in their footsteps…