Street Art escapade in the small streets of Butte Montmartre in Paris19 December 2021
As far as I can remember, street art in Montmartre was essentially embodied by MissTic, a talented stencil artist with vivid messages and a strong voice! There were also a few tags in the neighbourhood made by young people during their nightly excursions. I lived in this neighbourhood for more than eight years and that was 20 years ago! The craftsmen of the time, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters,… have given way to clothing brands that can be found all over the world and even the art gallery that represented MissTic at the time has been eradicated by a large supermarket chain! Yes, the area has lost some of its charm. But for us urban art lovers, it has become the target of a few die-hard artists who work mostly illegally to put up their works… So there are a few nuggets to be found and enjoyed. I have planned a short itinerary of 2 hours maximum and 7 kilometres that should delight you!
Let’s go up the hill and keep our eyes open.
So I start with a “gentle” slope that is the rue Lepic; it is at the corner of the rue Robert Planquette that this Street Art discovery in Montmartre begins. You absolutely cannot miss the work of Jo Di Bona which is offered to you! This artist who plays with the codes of poster artists and pop culture pays a flamboyant tribute to the King of Pop, none other than Michael Jackson. This corner of the street is full of great and small discoveries. If you keep your eyes open you will see the work of Toqué Frères, La Dactylo and many other artists.
If you go back to rue Lepic for a few metres you arrive at rue Véron. This street used to be the one with the most eclectic nightlife in the area, you could eat Capitaine en papillote with your fingers in an African restaurant; a Spanish woman was making Tapas so slowly that the whole restaurant was laughing with the sangria at midnight without having had dinner,… It was a joyful chaos that has become much smoother… Luckily urban artists have taken up residence in this street which is a bit sheltered from the effervescent Butte! Just a few weeks ago you could see the work of South African artist FAITH XLVII, which was simply magnificent. I couldn’t help but use it on the cover of this article, as its erasure pinched my heart a bit. This wall has probably been taken over by the association Le MUR and thus becomes Le Mur Montmartre, on which a very graphic work with some anamorphic accents by Marchal Shaka takes pride of place. This work will probably be covered by another one in a few weeks!
Continuing, it is with pleasure that we find MissTic‘s stencils and also a multitude of works by artists using different techniques. Stencils, collages, installations in relief,… the rue Véron has regained some of its charming chaos, but this time it is artistic! New works are added to the existing ones every month, but you are sure to come across creations by Levalet, Maria Peña Coto, Akiza, Monsieur Plus, Tzigrafik,… Of course the works are uneven, but it is always delightful to discover the new ideas and concepts of budding artists!
When you arrive at the corner of rue Germain Pilon, you are awakened by a huge mural by the agitator duo Tito & Mulk. You can feel a strong “comic book” inspiration in their work. They have fun unfolding a sort of exquisite corpse on the walls, using children’s words or more intimate reflections. Their “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, borrowed from Nietzsche, is a response to Covid delivered by a superhero nurse! Their slightly crazy universe couldn’t help but remind me of the cartoonist Crumb!
When you are on rue Germain Pilon, the attempt to go back up to the Abbesses is great; but a little advice, start by opening your eyes around this fresco. Just around the corner you will discover a portrait of the artist Nô overhung by a stencil of Akiza.
Continue to the end of rue Véron, and a few surprises await you on rue André Antoine. If I advise you to go into this street, it is also because one of the most beautiful art nouveau facades is hidden away from the tourists. Created by the French sculptor François Cogné, who had connections with unsavoury political leaders, this façade remains a well-kept secret in the district 😉
You can imagine that I didn’t make you come all the way here for a facade! No, this street is full of little surprises. There is a very poetic work by Maria Peña Coto, stencils by Akiza and your ascent of the stairs towards the Abbesses will be punctuated with surprises such as this Frida Kahlo by the artist C+S, or the little phrases of Singular Vintage.
You will certainly be a little out of breath when you reach the top, but there again… a little gift: a pretty young girl from Jana & JS, the natural & animal world of Olivia de Bona and some Invader will welcome you.
And if you pass under the porch of the Passage des Abbesses out of curiosity!
You can’t miss this porch, which is well known to the locals. This is where the first faces of the artist Gregos appeared, and where you can discover young artists. In fact, it’s the place to be to see what’s new at the moment… And also to try to be seen! Here are some pictures of this one with works of Gregos of course, and also of Loup y es-tu, Mimi the Clown,…
The main thing is not at the entrance to the porch but just a little further on. In fact nobody ever takes this passage. Only the local residents venture down it, as it ends with endless stairs!
If you venture there, even when Montmartre is crowded with tourists, you can find peace and quiet and admire a very nice child’s portrait made by the artist Nô or the excellent work of Mirages which composes faces from masterpieces of artists such as Picasso, Velasquez, Gauguin, Courbet, Matisse…
No, I’m not going to advise you to go up to heaven by this huge staircase. I’ll save that for later! Because just next to the Place des Abbesses there is a place that cannot be ignored in the district. For me it’s a tourist attraction! The I love you wall was created 21 years ago; it is made up of 612 enamelled lava tiles on which 311 I love you messages are written in 280 languages. When the town hall of the 18th district launched this project, carried out by calligrapher Claire Kito, we had a lot of fun in the neighbourhood because the square Jehan-Rictus was presented as a romantic square, whereas in fact it was a real hub where all sorts of substances were sold! But it seems that the I love you‘s got the better of the drug dealers because today thousands of tourists rush there every day to take their picture! No more traffic on the horizon, just love galore 😉
Rue Briquet: A must-see street art spot in Montmartre!
I must admit that 20 years ago, rue Briquet was the most sordid and dirty street in the neighbourhood. That’s all done. We used to go there with friends at the end of the evening because the only light you could see in this street was that of an Indian restaurant which closed very late, or not at all, and which allowed you to dine at derisory prices. The restaurant is still there, but I didn’t venture there 😉 The atmosphere of the street hasn’t changed completely, but what you can see is quite disconcerting. I don’t even want to present it to you as a “spot” because the works there are full of feelings, hope, compassion,…
I am going to present them to you as I discovered them, starting with the works of the artist 18emedesigne who has a gift for retranscribing the emotions of childhood; his works, his looks speak to us of melancholy, sadness and then suddenly of joy, mischief… I heartily invite you to follow his work which is rare in the world of Street Art.
Further on, the portrait of Martin, made by the French artist Swed, is part of the “support your local Homeless” project. This portrait is striking! In the very special atmosphere of rue Briquet, one might think that Martin is not far away. Swed has the ability to transcribe in his works the life of his models; disconcerting at times, but deeply humanistic.
My gaze is drawn to a young woman crouching down. Her attitude seems resigned, absent and almost chilling. I approach and read the small label under the collage “Portrait.2, #gardiennederue… or how to reintroduce women in the city”. The artist’s name is LaDame_QUICOLLE and after this first discovery I’m going to take a closer look at her work!
There is something real and above all something strong in this rue Briquet, because it shows the true face of the 18th. This district, apart from two or three preserved blocks, has something hard about it. Life at the back of the Butte, in the Goutte d’or or even towards Jules Joffrin does not have the flavour of Amélie Poulain. The works on rue Briquet embody with great feeling what the tourist rarely sees. Even this work by Levalet, to which a stencil artist has added the face of Arthur Rimbaud, embodies the mix of this very special neighbourhood.
Before considering a climb to the Sacré-Coeur, I wanted to put two portraits side by side. The first, by the Italian artist Exposito, brings a note of lightness and gentleness to this route. The second by the artist Nô is once again a reflection of the neighbourhood. Two faces, two atmospheres that resonate perfectly with the contrasts that Montmartre can offer its inhabitants.
Rendez-vous au Sacré-Cœur !
From rue Briquet, you will have to go to Halle-Saint-Pierre, pass by the Sacré-Coeur gardens and decide whether you want to be sporty and take the endless staircase to rue Gabrielle or take the funicular and go back down to rue Gabrielle with ease! The centrepiece of rue Gabrielle is without a doubt this old lady made by Swed. I have the impression that she is now part of the history of the hillock like those fortune tellers who continue to approach tourists who land on Place du Tertre. If you look at the picture carefully you will notice that Juan Spray has put one of his little Sprayitos at the foot of the wall 😉
I will end my guided tour of Montmartre with this work. You should know that other beautiful pieces are waiting for you on rue Gabrielle and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for those of you who, like me, have the courage to climb the stairs! When you decide to come back down from the Butte, each of the streets will hold some nice surprises for you. Pay attention and don’t forget to look up!
Is walking in rollercoaster mode to discover Street Art in Montmartre worth it?
In fact, walking around Montmartre is already a delight. On Sundays the Butte is pedestrianised and the area is full of lovely surprises. For lovers of Urban Art it is a little paradise. Of course you won’t find huge frescos like in the 13th arrondissement. The district is cramped and the artists adapt! But as soon as you get away from the touristy streets, you’ll automatically come across a work! There are many other spots in this district, as I have only concentrated on one part of the Butte. If you go to the north side, you won’t be disappointed either… and you will most certainly come across the Ordener wall which is also a must-see. And of course, if you can’t come to Paris, I’ll share with you another trip to the Butte… in 2022.
All that’s left for me to do is to wish you a very happy holiday season and for me to set off on new Street Art adventures! If you liked it, please share it 😉 And if you want to receive all my news, in French of course, about Urban Art directly in your e-mail box, you can now subscribe to my Newsletter 😉
See you soon & Take Good Care !