In the footsteps of Amélie Poulain
The walk starts at <1> metro station Lamarck-Caulaincourt, Amélie's station (it is here where she leads a blind man before she hops on the on her way to her lover!). Here you see one of the movies improbabilities: In the movie you her turn a corner on Rue Lepic and bang...she is in the rue Lamarck. In reality these streets are more than 15 minutes a part...
We drink coffee on the side walk terrace of Le Refuge across the street from the metro station, a quiet neighbourhood bar, from which you can watch the entire street. After that we climb the stairs that connect Rue Lamarck with Rue Caulaincourt. Here we turn right, walk past café Au Rêve, where time seems to have stopped seventy years ago. At the fork in the street we keep left along Avenue Junot. This area was built around 1920. There was a lot of resistance against the Art Deco buildings at the time, because the last few farm houses of Paris had to be demolished for them. Now it is home to the jet-set. On our right where the street veers to the left we see Vila Leandre, a sheltered and exclusive enclave with Normandy style villa's. At nr 15 is the villla of the poet Tristan Tzara, founder of the Dada movement. Further on we pass the Hameau des Artistes at nr 11. A bit further down we turn left into the Impasse de Girardon. Here is the former studio of the painter Gen Paul (1895-1975), also known as Gégène. He was known for his biting style, his wooden leg - World War I injury - his studio full of junk and his typical Parisian jargon. The Impasse leads to the square Suzanne-Buisson. Here too, a Petanc field and a statue of Saint Denis, one of the patron saints of France. He became the first bishop of Paris in 258 and was decapitated as a christian martyr on the "Butte" after which he took his head in his hands and walked to the sport where later the Saint Denis cathedral was built. At the far end of the square we turn right up some stairs into a narrow lane, Allee des Brouillards. This is where Amélie sometimes came to do some day dreaming. At the end of the lane we meet another celebrity of this area. On a courtyard carrying here name stands a statue of the singer Dalida <2>.
We walk south through the rue Girardon. On the corner of rue Girardon we find one of the oldest cinemas of Paris Ciné 13 and the Moulin Radet, one of the few windmills left in Montmartre. At the time Rénoir painted them there were more than 40! The mill is on top of restaurant called Moulin de la Galette. Both this mill and another called Blute-flin were owned by the Debray family in the 19th century. They milled flour for a typical bread called galette. The house under mill was turned into a bakery, later a brasserie, restaurant and dance hall. The mill was moved here in 1924.
We cross the rue Lepic and go into the narrow Rue D'Orchampt. When the street veers to the left we pass the house where Dalida once lived. At the end of the street we turn right onto the place Emile-Goudeau (also signposted as rue Ravignan). On this lovely square we find on the right hand side at nr. 11 a building known as Bateau-Lavoir <3>. Picasso, Braque and Gris worked here and developed Cubism. Also Kees van Dongen, Brancusi and Modigliani worked here in the early decades of the 20th century. After the place burned down in 1970 it was rebuilt in 1978 and is still the place for artists to work in. At the time other artists like Zola, Turgenev, Seurat, Degas, Toulouse Lautrec and Van Gogh lived and worked in this neighbourhood.
At the bottom of the square we turn left into the Rue des Trois Frères in. At nr. 56 is the grocery <4> where Amélie, buys here three hazelnuts and one artichoke... The grocer, whose real name is Ali, has kept the sign "Maison Colignon, fondee 1956" from the movie. One of the shop's windows is now a showcase with newspaper clippings about the movie and the shop.
We walk on and turn right into rue Vieuville, which leads us to Place des Abesses <5>. This square of picture postcard quality, is the beating heart of the district. It has one of the remaining Art Nouveau metro entrances by Guimard (moved her from Hôtel de Ville). Café's are in abundance like the district oldest Saint-Jean and Sancerre, which are packed day and night. Here we have a drink and some lunch.