You can put some music on, while reading this article (see at the bottom of this page “Charleston” (Midnight in Paris) – Enoch Light Orchestra)

Parisian Café - Le Dôme Paris circa 1920

Cafe Le Dôme in the 20s

Montparnasse  : the spirit of the beginning of the 20th century.

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Montparnasse is the area around Vavin Metro StopSituation de Montparnasse ds Paris.09

Montparnasse often gets bypassed when visitors come to Paris. At first sight : not a touristic place, no highlight spot, nor renown buildings. But culturally, it is a central neighborhood, rich by its history. And a very Parisian and nice place to live in. 

Surely a neighborhood where to find the spirit from the beginning of the 20th Illustrations Années Follescentury. A wonderful mix of new and old.  An area where you have the feeling of a real neighborhood. And without hesitation, the area where I would choose and love to live if I had to move.

Location : Montparnasse is located on the Left Bank of the river Seine and covers parts of the 5th, 6th,14th and 15th arrondissements. It’s bordered by the Luxembourg garden to its north. 

Some history 

Kiki de Montparnasse. Photo by Man Ray, 1924.

Kiki de Montparnasse. the muse of Montparnasse – Photo by Man Ray, 1924.

Montparnasse reached its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, between WWI and WWII. It was then the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris. It’s called “Les Années Folles” (=the Roaring 20s”). Montparnasse became the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris, and Vavin (Metro Stop : Vavin) was the center of the neighborhood.

Many artists came from Montmartre to settle in Montparnasse in search of low rent (lodging and workshops). 

Others from around the world (from Europe, including Russia and Ukraine, from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, central and South America, and Japan) came to stay in Montparnasse, looking for a place they could freely work and create. Between 1921 and 1924, the number of Americans in Paris swelled from 6000 to 30000. 

 

 

robe années 20 Trois jeune femmes à la terrasse d'un café parisien - 1928

Some of the artists in Montparnasse in the 20s

Painters, writers, sculptors, poets, photographers, composers… And most of the Paris artistic community settled in Montparnasse neighborhood. 

Pablo Picasso, Samuel Beckett, Joan Miro, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Tsugouharu FoujitaDiego Rivera, Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire, Salvatore Dali, Man Ray, Marc Chagall, Eric Satie, Zadkine, Degas, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Miller, George Braque, Jean Cocteau, Chaim Soutine, Blaise Cendrars, Fernand Léger, André Breton, Giacometti, Dos Passos…

The importance of the cafes

They frequented the cafés along Boulevard Montparnasse, such as La Closerie des Lilas, La Rotonde (photo above), Le Dôme (photos below), Le Select, La Coupole…

A charming neighborhood 

Kiki de Montparnasse3

Kiki de Montparnasse, the muse of Montparnasse

Kiki de Montparnassethe Montparnasse’s muse. She was the model of many artists : Man Ray, Fujita, Modigliani… She was the lover of Man Ray.

 

Nowadays, young students from around the world, come around the art supplies shops and arts academy of the rue de la Grande Chaumière. 

 

Traditionnaly, Montparnasse is also “home” to Parisians coming from Brittany (Western France), because trains from Montparnasse station travels back and forth to Brittany. Many Breton people came to settle in Paris from the mid 19th century to the 1960s.

More recently, since the 70s, Montparnasse neighborhood has become more upscale and many old ateliers have been converted into upscale housing. Nowadays, still the cafés of the 20s and many others, restaurants, many crêperies (as crêpes are traditionally a Breton meal… !)

 

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Boulevard Montparnasse

Boulevard Montparnasse

My advice :

  • Get out at the Metro Stop Vavin (not Metro Stop : Montparnasse) which is the center of the real Montparnasse neighborhood. 
  • Enjoy a drink at “La Coupole” or at the café “Le Vavin” (rue de Vavin) to let you have a feeling of a real neighborhood. 
  • Rue Vavin (a small and short street), you’ll find one of the best Paris “Chocolatier” (Jean Paul Hevin). Also nice small shops. 
  • After your Montparnasse visit, you can enjoy the Luxembourg garden, just nearby (end of rue de Vavin)
  • You can choose to have a nice meal (pricey) at Le Select, Le Dome (for fish meals), or a nice restaurant in a small street rue Jules Chaplain. 
  • Lots of crêperies rue de Montparnasse for a nice meal (cheaper) and delicious. 
  • PRIVATE WALKING TOUR with a NATIVE PARISIAN in MONTPARNASSE neighborhood ? (Walk in the footsteps of the great artists who first found inspiration there : Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Modigliani, Man Ray…)  Contact me         
    • You only, or you and the person you choose. I’ll show you around in Montparnasse.
    • Duration of the tour : from 3 to 5 hours. It includes a coffee in an authentic cafe in Montmartre neighborhood. Can be included : the visit of an open door market of the neighborhood 

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More details :

  • Close access to major centers (a few minutes walks to Luxembourg garden, 15-20 minutes walk to Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter, 15 minutes by subway to the Eiffel Tower, lots of restaurants, an open market 3 days per week, many cafés (La Rotonde, Le Select, Le Dome, La Coupole…)
  • The renown cemetery Montparnasse (the second largest burial ground in Paris) : graves of many of the neighborhood’s most illustrious residents (Baudelaire, Beckett, Bartholdi – (who designed the Statue of Liberty), Maupassant, Man Ray, Samuel Beckett, Sartre, Beauvoir, Jean Seberg, Ionesco, Saint Saëns, Satie, Soutine, Zadkine, – Entrance on Bd Edgar Quinet – Paris 14 – Metro Stop : Edgar Quinet
  • La Closerie des Lilas : a Left Bank institution – A chic Piano Bar with a bronze plaque with Hemingway’s name. a Brasserie and a restaurant (pricey).  An article about Closerie des Lilas coming up soon. – 171 boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 6 – Metro Stop : Port Royal or Bus n°38 – Vavin (5 minutes walk)
  • Edgar Quinet Market : An excellent street Market every Wednesday and Saturday (fresh food and clothes). A crafts market on Sundays. – Boulevard Edgar Quinet – Paris 14
  • Bourdelle Museum :  a heaven of peace for lovers of art, sculpting. museum dedicated to the life and works of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. – Metro Stop : Montparnasse
  • La Fondation Cartier for exhibitions of contemporary art (a building designed by Jean Nouvel)
  • Numerous crêperies in the neighborhood (Metro stop : Vavin or Montparnasse) : a nice and affordable break (salted wheat flour crêpes and sweet crêpes). Crêpes = thin pancakes. An article coming up soon. 

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Charleston – Midnight in Paris : 

Maybe you’d feel like meeting the soul of the Lost Generation in Paris …

Nearby Notre Dame

YOUR Private walk, with Ann Jeanne in Paris, native Parisian

  • You’d like to feel like a local and having a tour in a Paris neighborhood, but you don’t feel having a tour with a group ?
  • You’d like to discover Paris off the beaten path ?
    You’d like to see Paris in another perspective and to know more about Paris lifestyle 

WELCOME !

CONTACT me for a private walking tour and EXPERIENCE PARIS as a local

  • You only, or you and the person you choose.
  • Duration of the tour : from 2 hours. It includes a coffee in an authentic cafe
  • The tour can be customized according to your preferences and interests 

For more details : The tours – Booking and Pricing

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