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Montmartre is a famed hill you can see as one of the attractions in Paris. It is 129 meters high and at the topmost part is the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, a famous church. It has been designated as a historical district, so no one is allowed to do anything to destroy its historic nature.

The name of this hill means the 'mountain of the martyr'; which applies to the martyrdom of Saint Denis, who was killed on it in 250 AD. Denis had been the Bishop of Paris at the time and is now considered France’s patron saint.

Famous Artists Associated with Montmartre

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The hill has always been a popular location for artists to set up their easels to paint the local scenery. Many famous artists owned studios on or near Montmartre. Some of these include Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modiglianai, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian and Vincent van Gogh, as well as others who got inspiration from the area such as Pierre Brissaud, Henri Mastisse, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, and many more.

There was a commune there between 1904 and 1909 were artists Pablo Picasso and several other poor artists lived together and worked together.

Early history of Montmartre

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The Montmartre area has been the scene of several historic occurrences. In 1590 the hills were used by Henry IV during the Siege of Paris so his artillery could fire from a higher vantage point to attack the city. Unfortunately for him, he was forced to withdraw so the city survived.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, gypsum mines were discovered in Montmartre, as well as fossils, such as a tooth found by the scientist Georges Cuvier. 

In 1814 during the Battle of Paris, the Russians used the hill for a vantage point to invade Paris similar to the way it was used by Henry IV.

The hill wasn’t inside the Paris city limits, so they didn’t pay taxes. This made it quite popular for the locals to come to drink wine made by the area nuns and to dance and hold parties and festivals. This went on throughout the 19th and 20th century.

The mayor of Montmartre during part of this timeframe was future French statesman George Clemenceau.

Some of these included singing, dancing, and many performers like those in the Moulin Rouge cabaret or Le Chat Noir to name just two.

Best Features for Tourists

Some of the best features of the Montmartre are:

Basilica of Sacre Coeur

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This famous church took 36 years to finish, and was built as a sign of remorse for the wrongdoings of the Paris Commune, a government uprising, and as a way to honor the French people killed in the Franco Prussian War in 1871. This beautiful church has a white dome that is a good landmark in Paris.

Saint Pierre de Montmartre

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Another church on the hill is an older one which is said to be where the Jesuit order of priests got founded. It was built in 1147 and is an example of French Romanesque architecture.


Beautiful Vineyards

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One example of the vineyards in the area is a small one in the Rue Saint-Vincent, which still produces about 500 liters of wine a year.

Musée de Montmartre

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This is the place painter Maurice Utrillo was living and working in his studio on the second floor.

Former home of Renoir

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Other famous places on the hill include one of the oldest hotels in the area. It was previously the home of Pierre Auguste Renoir, and many other famous artists lived in it throughout the years.

Moulin de la Galette

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The Moulin de la Galette is a famous windmill close to the top of the Montmarte. During the time of the famous artists of Paris it was a very popular restaurant where people also went dancing. It is seen in many old paintings by some of the French masters.

Boulevard de Clichy

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An area near the hill that is full of various things like bars and kebab shops .

Scene of many famous films

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Montmartre has also been the scene of several films, such as La Môme, (La vie en rose) which is about French singer Edith Piaf’s life and works, as well as Amelie, which is about a young women who is living in Paris and looking for true love.