Many of the impressionists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries: Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Utrillo, Modigliani, Degas, Bonnard, Seurat, to name a few, lived in Paris for at least part of their lives. Montmartre was a particular haven for these artists. It was one of the more affordable neighbourhoods in Paris and attracted bohemian artists of the time to come and work. Montmartre, today, is scattered with courtyards, passage ways, gardens where artist studios and ateliers are nestled up against each other in beautiful hidden enclaves.
A five minute walk from where we live is an annex of La Cité Internationale des Arts, a state funded organisation receiving professional artists from all over the world for short term stays of 2 - 12 months. The foundation was started 1957. In 1965 a building was constructed in the 4th arrondissement of Paris to house 270 individual workshops. The annex to this foundation is in the 18th arrondissement at 24 Rue Norvins and comprises around 30 workshops in several buildings situated in an extraordinary oasis of greenery. It is often said that Montmartre is like a village and when you see these artists studios and their surroundings you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in a small village far away from Paris.
Back in June we were taking a walk around our neighbourhood when I noticed that the usually locked back gate to La Cité des Artistes on Rue Girardon was slightly ajar. Having often pressed my nose through the surrounding railings of La Cité to have a better look, I seized the moment and squeezed through the gate. It was even more wild than I had expected.
Some of the studios looked empty.
Does this look like Paris to you?
An artful swing.
At the north side of the site I looked over the fence across Rue de L'Abreuvoir. The view this way was none to shabby either!
It was June. There were flowers.
Last year in May 2013, La Cité des Arts Internationale opened it's doors to the public. I think this is probably an annual event so I shall be looking out for this next May, and perhaps have the chance to go into to some of the studios.
If you want to learn more about the artists of Montmartre then Michael Schuermann from Easy Hiker wrote an interesting article 'Themed Paris Urban Walk – The Artists of Montmartre'.
I wrote an article about the beautiful Cité de Fusains, another wonderful secret oasis that is not open to the public.