to visit and re-visit fun-loving Montmartre.
Frantic and a bit sinful -- how can we help but love it.
But as in most love stories, too much of a good thing can be exhausting.
So on your next sojourn to the party side of town, veer a bit off the
beaten path and look for a very special "someone else".
Discover the more saintly side to mischievous Montmartre.
A real sleeping beauty, Cemetière Saint-Vincent is a peewee parcel of
greenery that offers more love and true-to-life authenticity per square foot
than some of the more famous Paris cemeteries.
A beautiful memorial garden, tiny and well kempt, the graveyard's
true claim-to-fame lies in the intimate feel it evokes.
Seeming to draw a lot of "business" from artistic Montmartre,
many of its residents hailed from the legendary village on the hill.
With wild-and-wooly Place du Tertre just steps away and
pretty-in-pink cabaret -- the Lapin Agile -- peeking over its shoulder,
Saint-Vincent Cemetery* offers a history lesson you won't soon forget.
Many of its gifted residents achieved fame as painters, composers,
writers and film makers who once called Paris home.
*Don't confuse this with Montmartre Cemetery, located near the Moulin Rouge.
If you've always longed for breathing space in rowdy,
jam-packed Montmartre, this is your lucky day.
"An artist has no home in Europe except for Paris."
Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher
the chance to pay my respects to one of my favorite local artists, Maurice Utrillo.
His lifelike canvases of Montmartre speak volumes of his own
experience in this much painted neighborhood.
If you enjoy poster art, look for Jules Chéret's gravesite.
Nicknamed Father of the Modern Poster, Chéret's work has stood
the test of time, his colorful images and lettering providing a glimpse
into the future of art as a modern marketing medium.
Though you may not have heard of the Debray family before,
surely you'll recognize the symbol of their claim to fame.
Long-time millers by trade, they eventually transformed one of their
working windmills into artist magnet Moulin de la Galette.
You'll find the family vault in the cemetery; the famous restaurant -- the same
one made famous by Renoir's inimitable brushstrokes -- is just a few blocks away.
"Les Enfants du Paradis," hailed as one of the best films of all time.
If you dote on vintage or unconventional cinema and its well-earned
place as a popular art form, then this one's for you.
During past visits to Montmartre, you may have already admired
the famous wall sculpture La Passe-Mureille.
The spooky image shows up in everyone's favorite photos of the
neighborhood, its man-in-a-jam trying to walk right through the wall.
This uncanny sculpture was inspired by a short story of the
same name -- "The Man Who Walked through Walls" written by
Marcel Aymé, a master French storyteller.
In case you're hunting down a sweet children's storybook,
check out Aymé's "The Wonderful Farm" illustrated by
Marice Sendak's "Where the Wild The Wild Things Are".
Perhaps Sendak was thinking of a wild Montmartre Saturday night
when he dreamed up his infamous wild things...….
Arthur Honegger, a much admired 20th century composer,
is buried in Cemetière Saint-Vincent.
One of his most famous works - "Pacific 231" -- was inspired by
his fondness for locomotives.
Translating the rush and squeal of engines into deliberate music,
the lauded virtuoso was amazingly successful.
But I like him best for this ironic quote:
"There is no doubt that the first requirement for a composer is to be dead."
Beach scenes, windswept harbors, and the brilliant light of the outdoors
made him one of the more memorable originators of "en plein air" painting.
The landscape painter was an early influence in the work of Monet, his soft,
mood-setting canvases provoking the gifted impressionist
and other artists to focus on the great outdoors.
If you've ever visited the gorgeous port city of Honfleur,
you'll recognize his inspiration.
Long before "Cats" came to the stage, posters of cats became de rigueur.
Theophile Steinlen's "Tournée du Chat Noir" brought him fame,
with a striking style that never seems to age.
These days, you'll find copies of this very image on posters
at Walmart and coffee cups from Amazon.
One of the most unusual gravestone markers (sorry, I forgot to take a photo)
belongs to ceramic artist Nicolas Platon-Argyriades and his wife.
Peeking through a window in their burial-house, they seem almost playful.
Or weird. You choose.
Platon-Argyriades specialized in faïence ceramics, much of his work one-of-a-kind.
It's all about the contrasts -- imaginative and lovable, crowded and a bit kooky,
we wouldn't dream of visiting Paris without a stop on the hill.
We cherish every high-spirited inch of it.
So if you're going, plan to stay a while.
And of course you know what that means.
Plan to linger over a long lunch or dinner.
Just far enough away from the push and shove of the crowd
is a lovely bistro that specializes in chicken.
Le Coq Rico is a find in the middle of a touristy
and sometimes disappointing restaurant scene.
It must have been my lucky day; Chicken Vol-au-Vent was on the menu.
It's a mind-blowing puff pastry creation that's true to its name -- light as air.
From the appetizer -- oeufs a la russe -- to the dessert -- caramel au beurre sale
(rice pudding with a salted caramel topping), lunch was divine.
I never did find out why the chicken crossed the road, but I did
figure out why King Henry IV's manifesto --"un poule au pot le Dimanche" --
put a chicken in every pot every Sunday -- was such a fine idea.
a little more precious than it did the day before.
The peace and quiet helps clear your mind; the sun seems
to shine brighter; the flowers seem a bit more colorful.
And to top it off, you get to "meet" really great people such as
cemetery angels like local artist Georges Rose whose simple and
on-point marker gave me goosebumps.
These spirits of Montmartre lightened my mood and made me think.
It's not just time to seize the day;
it's time to rocket launch our life span on earth and seize EVERY day.
Hope you've enjoyed this little tour of the diminutive Cemetière de Saint-Vincent.
I look forward to seeing you there one day.
Above ground....of course.