Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Paris Part One – Montmartre, Atelier des Lumières, and Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Clos Montmartre
Every October Montmartre hosts a festival celebrating the harvest of grapes from its one remaining vineyard. We were lucky that our visit coincided with this annual event as we were able to join a guided tour of the Clos Montmartre, closed to the public at other times of the year. There was a more formal celebration occurring at the same time with robed figures, members of the wine brotherhood of Montmartre as far as I could work out. The vineyard is small and not as historic as some may have you believe. Although vineyards were first introduced to Paris by the Romans and continued to thrive for many generations since, by the end of the nineteenth century they had vanished from the city. The Clos Montmartre was planted in 1933 to rekindle some of the area’s heritage.

After the tour we made our way uphill to the main festival site in front of the Sacré-Coeur. Here we found a bustling street food market selling a wide range of French specialities. The wine yield from the vineyard is auctioned off with proceeds going to charity. Local artists design the labels. Historically an area that attracted artists – Monet, Renoir, and Degas to name but a few, creativity is still evident as you walk the streets, and this custom pays homage to this. Montmartre retains its village feel and remains one of the most beautiful areas of Paris.

L'Atelier des Lumieres
We couldn’t linger too long however as we had tickets for the Atelier des Lumières. A nineteenth century foundry in the 11th arondissement houses an immersive art exhibition. Their first display predominantly features work by Gustave Klimt, as well as some photography from the period and works by Hundertwasser, whose work was new to me. A playlist accompanies the experience as images are projected across the walls, floors and ceiling. Accused by some of pandering to the Instagram generation, it is nonetheless a unique experience. By no means a replacement for seeing the originals, instead it feels not like experiencing them so much as witnessing new art in this carefully curated space, and is well worth a visit.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Conveniently nearby sits sprawling Pere Lachaise cemetery. Established in 1804 by Napoleon I, it is the final resting place of many a famous name and is the most visited cemetery in the world. Rows of ornate tombs line paths that spread as far as the eye can see. It feels almost to be a city in its own right. Home to tributes to wars and mass killings, it is hard to imagine that this peaceful, emotive place was once the site of a massacre itself.

No comments:

Post a comment