Sunday, 14 October 2012

La Cité des Fusains

The Cité des Fusains, also known as the Villa des Fusains, is one of the most exquisite hidden delights I have ever come across in Paris. This is really saying something, given how crammed full of beautiful spots Paris is! What makes it more surprising is that we are neighbours. Our house literally butts up against an artist studio in the Cité des Fusains. Unfortunately our courtyard, which I hasten to say by Parisian standards is brilliant and very spacious, does not connect with Les Fusains. Us and them.

Bound between Rue Steinlen and Rue Tourlaque in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, the Cité des Fusains is a private oasis of about 30 artists' ateliers. It is closed to the public and you need a code to get in. For a while we were lucky enough to have the code so I would pop in every now and then and take some photos. 

I've been wanting to write a post about the Cité des Fusains for some time now but have been delaying writing it as I've been trying to find more historical information about the place. It seems, however, to be so secret that even the Internet is not revealing very much information.

What I have managed to glean is that it was built in 1889, using recycled building materials previously used for the construction of pavilions in the 1989 Universal Paris Exhibition (the exhibition for which the Eiffel tower was built!). Ten years earlier apparently, the parcel of land was part of the Montmartre Cemetery, it was given over to the city but people were forbidden from digging or building foundations for ten years. A second phase of buildings was added in 1923.

The place is extraordinary with sculptures just dotted around.

I love these delicate figures.

Wall sculptures.


Here is a view from one of the neighbouring flats. And what a view! I've also read that there was a blanchisserie/laundry in the Cité des Fusains, I wonder whether those glazed lofts were formerly the laundry.

The low cost of these ateliers at the time (apparently 450 - 700 francs) attracted many (now) famous artists. The cast list of artists includes Bonnard, Derain, Collamarini, Forain, Masson, Magritte, Dali, Jean Arp et Sophie Taeuber who lived or worked there between between 1922 à 1926. The properties are now sold for a small fortune, and are gradually being bought by wealthy city types as artists can no longer afford them. 

For ten years from 1925 Max Ernst had an atelier in the Cité des Fusains and Juan Miró worked there in 1927. In 1929 Georges Joubin created a short lived "École de Montmartre", where Pascin, Maurice Asselin, Creixams, Marcel Leprin studied.

Some of the alley ways in the Cité des Fusains are named after these artists. In this photo you can just about see the blue name plate 'Rue Forain'.

The little red bit of facade you see in the corner of the photo below is our place. One day when we are rich (never) and famous (yeah right), we shall buy one of the ateliers that join our house, and knock through. We may have a long wait!

Montmartre.Secret  - Rue Tourlaque, Montmartre (in French).
Paris revolutionnaire, promenade sur la Butte Montmartre, 2ème partie (in French).
Paris revolutionnaire, Salvador Dali (in French).
Expert Paris - Cité des Fusains (in French)
Paris apart - Les FUSAINS a City of Artists in Paris in Guides, Art Books and Magazines


  1. SUCH an amazing place! Thanks for letting me peek at it again! :D

  2. Sublime ! Merci pour la découverte !

    1. 'Sublime' est le bon je sais que vous êtes experte dans la domaine des coins secrets à Paris.

  3. Love those views! And how lucky you are to get an exclusive sneak peek!

    1. Thanks Lindsey. We share a gutter with one of the ateliers which is how we got the code in the first place. Maybe we're due for another check-up on those leaves! We wouldn't want blocked gutters after all, BB

  4. I thought I already made a comment...

    I had the intention to make a post on my blog ( about Les Fusains and this is how I found your blog / post. I'm of course jealous to see how you managed to get photos from behind the gates doors. I wouold somehow like to "steal" them, but I guess I will just make a link to your post, if you don't mind.

    1. Thank-you Peter, and yes of course you can link to this Fusains post. I look forward to reading your post, I hope you can find out some more tit-bits about this amazing hidden oasis.
      Kind regards, BB

  5. So, I posted... You are welcome to have a look and possibly comment, made a remark...

  6. Hi, do you know if any painters still live there today?