Why does the Place du Tertre swarm with mediocre artists clamoring to paint your portrait? As is often the case in Paris, ... More
Place du Tertre
Why does the Place du Tertre swarm with mediocre artists clamoring to paint your portrait? As is often the case in Paris, it's Baron Haussmann's fault! But for once, the baron did some good along with the damage when, by razing many working-class neighborhoods in central Paris, he unwittingly encouraged the development of Montmartre (which had been annexed to Paris in 1860). The transformation of the Butte (Hill) from a country village into the home of hordes of artists and other marginalized folk who no longer had a place in Haussmann's grandiose central Paris began around 1880. At the foot of Montmartre cabarets thrived - up top on the Place du Tertre, an unimaginably (to us) intense period of artistic activity took hold. The Place saw movements from Impressionism to Cubism to Fauvism to Surrealism come and go, right up to the eve of World War I, such greats as Renoir, Picasso, Braque, Dufy, Cezanne, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec painted here and, often, kept studios and living quarters in the adjacent streets. These days, despite the oppressive, constant tourist crush on the square, one can still discover that old-time Paris feeling here - not to mention the fact that some of the current painters aren't too bad at all!
This place is really interesting. The work may not be "high art" but it certainly is fascinating to look at and a lot of fun to be the subject of. There's also a lot of very creative mimes in this area.
Place du Tertre seems to get a bad rap. Many of the artists here are quite good. This is a great place to see first thing in the morning (just before Sacre Coeur), when the shops are first opening. If you are looking for some souvenirs, you can find some for about a fifth of what they are charging at the Louvre, or other locations around Paris. Have a nice quiet espresso and experience the amazing light, the fresh air, and watch the vendors set up their wares. This is always one my best mornings in Paris without exception! Also a great place for some photos!
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