Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dining out in Paris - Montmartre and Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Half a niece - dining out in Montmartre
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've got to be honest - these aren't my favourite sketches of the whole trip to France. However I though I'd post them on the basis of showing you not all my sketches work out - for various reasons.

We visited Montmartre for dinner on Tuesday evening and the first sketch was done while eating dinner in a small but very crowded restaurant. A very cheap meal and, as we were sat very near the serving hatch, it provided my niece with an education about catering size jars and how food gets plated up!

However I was very tired from spending all day in the The Musée d'Orsay and I think I was experiencing visual overload.
See the following to see the reasons for the visual overload!
The second one is of the view from my seat in Le Petit Zinc, a very nice Art Nouveau style restaurant just off the Boulevard St Germain which I ate in once before when visiting Paris and where I remembered the food was very good. The food was still good but for some reason, midweek the restaurant wasn't very busy and what I had planned as an animated sketch with diners off to one side turned into being one of an empty table and a cheese trolley!

Much more interesting were the places we visited - which are quite a contrast

Montmartre, which is the highest point in the city. I'm currently reading a book (bought in the Musée d'Orsay) about the decade of so before the Impressionists took off and have just got the part about the Paris Commune, how Montmartre was a base for the Communards and played a very impotant part in the in the events of the Paris Commune.

In the past Montmartre has also housed the studios of famous artists.
In the mid-1800s artists, such as Johan Jongkind and Camille Pissarro, came to inhabit Montmartre. By the end of the century, Montmartre and its counterpart on the Left Bank, Montparnasse, became the principal artistic centers of Paris.

Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and other impoverished artists lived and worked in a commune, a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir during the years 1904–1909.

Artist associations such as Les Nabis and the Incoherents were formed and individuals including Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Brissaud, Alfred Jarry, Gen Paul, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Maurice Utrillo, Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen worked in Montmartre and drew some of their inspiration from the area.
History of Montmartre
Places in Montmartre - such as the Moulin de la Galette - have also featured in famous paintings and a number of films.

The Basilica of Sacré Cœur is located at the summit of the butte. What I didn't realise was that..........

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation of the "crimes of the communards", after the Paris Commune events, and to honour the French victims of the 1871 Franco-Prussian War.
Wikipedia Montmartre

My dodgy feet don't like lots of steps so I rode the the Funiculaire de Montmartreopened in 1900 and operated by RATP, to the top of the Butte and the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart). You don't need to queue at the funicular for a ticket if you have one of the metro tickets from a carnet of 10. However I did manage to do a very careful - and slow - descent.

I do recommend visiting Sacré Cœur at night. There are very few tourists - unlike during the day - and it's very quiet and peaceful. Or or rather it would be if there was no music being played loudly outside where there was large crowd of youngsters (swings and roundabouts!). Also if you've seen the magnificent view from the terrace outside before then it's interesting to see it again at night although it's pointless trying to take photographs!

This is a link to photos of Montmartre in the 1900s.

[Note: Who remembers the flight of steps in Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon) - a 1956 film with almost no dialogue about a little boy and a ballon which begins to follow him? I was always convinced that the steps were in Montmartre but after researching this post I've learned that this is not so and that they've actually disappeared - see this link for an explanation A colour record of a long lost part of Paris - Belleville !] Incidentally the film is a true exponent of the art of "less is more" - it won an Oscar for its screenplay!]

Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Boulevard St Germain

Le Petit Zinc - and what happens when the diners sit somewhere else!
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

St Germain was established around the Benedictine abbey of Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In the nineteenth century, the Boulevard Saint-Germain was built by Baron Haussman. The area around the church is known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The Boulevard Saint Germain is home to some famous cafés, such as Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, which used to be home to the philosophical literati.

Since the Avenue des Champs-Élysées stopped being the prestigious place it used to be, the money seems to have moved to Saint-Germain. I know I've noticed a big difference on every visit.

Le Petit Zinc is a restaurant on the Rue Benoit which has a splendid Art Nouveau exterior and interior. One those places where your visual appetite also gets nourishment! I was too preoccupied with the classic French fine dining to do much sketching! (Read a review)

Plus I'd spent virtually all day in the Louvre (more overload) - of which more this next week.............

The exterior of Le Petit Zinc - I had the duck!
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell


1 comment:

  1. Your Petit Zinc sketch is so charming! It's Katherine-crossed-with-Matisse and done in a wonderfully subtle palette. With more diners there that Tuesday night, we wouldn't have had this sketch, so all's well that ended well!


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