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III - Le vrai Paris

Painting by Jean-Marc Guéroux

This café, had become one of the go-to places of Abbesses, a terribly trendy spot next door to Le Sancerre. Elisa met locals of all ages here.

During her many trips back and forth between Boulogne and Montmartre, before she moved to the neighbourhood, Elisa often stopped in to relax in the comfortable club armchairs. This was the very spot where she realised that the Montmartre locals were actually interested in who she was. She had been spending time in the area for a few months before moving there and, already, people were asking about her life. This had never happened in any other place Elisa had lived.

When she moved to Boulogne from England three years before, no one had noticed when she arrived – or when she left. Montmartre was a completely different story. After serving her a café au lait (the best in Abbesses) three mornings in a row, the waiter at Le Vrai Paris wanted to know what she was doing in Montmartre, if she was going to stay, what her job was – was she an artist perhaps? The other habitués were also interested in Elisa’s life. Elisa suddenly realised that she had been cloaked in Parisian anonymity all of these years. “You become a naturalised Montmartre resident by popular co-option,” wrote André Roussard, the greatest historian, editor and gallery owner on the Butte.

Elisa wasn’t even living on the Butte yet. She wasn’t even French… but she felt at home for the first time in her life. When asked why she chose Montmartre, she answered: “Because every time I come here, I am suddenly happy, for no reason at all. So, I wanted to get as close as possible to this source of happiness. I think it’s the spirit of creation, the vital drive of all the great artists behind the Impressionism, Modern Art and Contemporary Art movements that still floats in the air here. And I observed this same effect on others. Montmartre is a concentration of inspiration and beauty, which is continuously nourished by so many musicians, filmmakers, writers and artists who tap into this energy to convert it into a contemporary creation on par with the glories of the past.”

Elisa was a fervent admirer of Gertrude Stein, who tried to initiate art buyers to the talents of their contemporaries, rather than let them regret not buying a Picasso when it was still accessible. Convinced that the geniuses of yesterday are still present today, Elisa could not believe that Vincent Van Gogh painted over 2,400 paintings in seven years and only managed to sell one, at a pitiful price.

She strolled through the streets of the Butte to search out not only the former homes of renowned artists such as Erik Satie, who lived in an attic room at 6 Rue Cortot at the very top of the Butte, “far above his creditors”, but also young composers such as Tom Gé, who lives on Rue Gabrielle.

Satie composed the Gymnopédies, Gnossiennes, Airs à Faire Fuir, Danses de Travers and Vexations à Montmartre at 6 Rue Cortot. But which melodies will remain of our current era? Contemporary creation is bubbling over and Montmartre is once again a worldwide centre of artistic production that won’t soon be forgotten. This is the “Vrai Paris”, the real Paris!

* Le Vrai Paris

Les studios de Paris
2-4, rue Androuet Paris - 75018