Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Paris' Vineyard

On the Northern slope of Montmarte, in the 18th arr, is one of Paris’s most secretive gardens; Paris’ only remaining vineyard.

Vineyards came into Paris over 2000 years ago with the Romans. Regarded as a profitable crop there came to be many vineyards throughout the city of Paris, though by the 18th century the quality was very poor as quantity was being favoured over quality.
By the beginning of the 20th century the pressures of urbanization gradually forced the vineyards out of existence, until in the early 1920's, when there was a public outcry began against the urbanization of Montmartre. Led by the artist François Poulbot in an effort to save the garden of singer and comedian Aristide Bruant (best known as the man in the black hat and red scarf in the famous Toulouse-Lautrec poster) from a real estate development plan, the Clos Montmartre was established as public land, and planted with vines in 1933 to honor the history of Montmartre’s vineyards. Today public access is not allowed except for special occasions, such as the "Festival of Gardens", when the grapes are harvested, held each October by the mayor of Paris. The sale of the wine of the Clos Montmartre goes to charity.

The winery is on a small plot of land located between Rue Saint Vincent and Rue Cortot and runs along the Rue des Saules. The best view is from the corner of Rue Saint Vincent and Rue des Saules where you are able to look back up into the terraced field of the vines.

While you are on the Rue des Saules, across from the vineyard, there is an old guinguette, a garden restaurant dating from 1860’s: the Lapin Agile. The restaurant is one of the few remaining meeting places of the Bohemian art world of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Artists who were living in the Montmartre and were relatively unknown at the time, poets such as Verlaine, Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire and painters such as Renoir and Picasso, gathered in this restaurant
The establishment took the name Lapin Agile, or "The Nimble Rabbit", in 1886 when Andre Gill painted a picture of a cheerful-looking rabbit, with a glass of wine in its hand and one foot in a cooking pot it has just escaped.

To discover the Clos Montmartre vineyard and the Lapin Agile, take the #12 Métro to Lamarck-Caulaincourt and follow the signs for the Musée Montmartre, approx 250 m uphill.

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