Last Updated on 20th November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Once upon a time, 8-14 Rue de Cortot was known as ‘home‘ by one of the greatest impressionists of all time, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Today the Musée de Montmartre serves as a reminder of the area’s rich past and influence over French art and is the oldest surviving home in the 18th arrondissement of the city. Here’s a history, as well as things to know before you go.
Located in the very middle of the 18e arrondissement, the small house museum borders on the Montmartre Vineyards, as well as offering breathtaking views over onto the nearby Sacré-Coeur. Wandering down the backstreets of Montmartre feels a little like stepping back in time.
Ivy-clad buildings line cobbled lanes. The Paris of yesteryear is all around you, just waiting to be discovered. Little stands are set up for artists painting en plein air and there’s plenty of history to be discovered. Perhaps this was the spirit of Paris all the Impressionists were trying to capture all those years ago…
A brief history of the Musée de Montmartre
Musée de Montmartre offers a glimpse into what life might have been like in 19th-century Montmartre, and perhaps even before. A whimsical museum filled with little treasures, as well as a reconstructed artist’s atelier, the Museum of Montmartre may not be the most glamorous of Parisian Museums… but it’s definitely the most nostalgic.
The original house was built at some point during the 17th-Century. There it has stood ever since, witnessing revolutions, great political movements and plenty of changes to the art world. Founded in 1960 as a museum, it was officially recognized as a Musée de France in 2003.
The museum collection comprises of a whole host of objects, vintage photographs, and some prize paintings. As a result, bohemian Montmartre is showcased here at its very finest, and you may well struggle to leave. After all, this oasis of calm is a refuge from the rest of Montmartre. The museum is one of those well-kept secrets of Montmartre that has remained that way for decades (and hopefully for years to come).
Highlights & things to see at the Montmartre Museum
Artist’s Atelier on the first floor
Paint spatters the desk. Oil clothes are draped on various furniture and canvasses are stacked in every available nook and crevice. This imagined reconstruction of Renoir’s Atelier was one of my favourite spaces in the museum. It’s easy to imagine that Renoir has just popped out for lunch, or perhaps to get a breath of fresh air in between brush strokes.
The small, landscaped garden is so called as an ode to the house’s most famous resident. From here, in this tranquil little spot, you can see the rolling green hills outside of Paris’ peripherique (a rarity inside Paris proper), as well as one of the very last vineyards the city has to offer.
There’s a lily pond, terraced courtyard, and plenty of landscaped borders. In the summer flower blossoms fill the air and the place is never very full. Even when I visited in the shoulder season, I only saw one or two other visitors. Sit and stay awhile in this little oasis of calm in the very midst of a busy district.
The entire museum and Renoir Gardens overlook the Clos Montmartre, one of the few remaining vineyards in the city. Few people know of its existence, and even fewer still hold a key to enter. Access to the vines is only by those in the know, or when it opens its doors for one day a year. However, a visit to the Renoir Gardens at the back of the Musée de Montmartre
However, a visit to the Renoir’s Gardens at the back of the Musée de Montmartre will ensure that you get as close to the vineyards as is possible without one of the coveted keys… Interested in learning more about the vineyard of Montmartre? Check the Clos Montmartre website here.
How to visit the Musée de Montmartre
The museum is open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 11am-6pm; and on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-7pm. The Musée de Montmartre is closed on Tuesdays. The full entrance fee is €13, though concession rates are available. If you opt to visit the gardens only, the price is €5.
Things to know before visiting Montmartre and the cobbled lanes of the 18th
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Montmartre, then be sure to check out my complete guide to the 18th arrondissement. Otherwise, be sure to dedicate at least half a day to explore this pretty district of Paris, though of course, you could easily stay much longer!
For those who are looking to explore Montmartre like a local, be sure to check out my Montmartre walking tour. Just be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes: this area of the city is full of steps, ups and downs, and of course, many a cobbled lane. Otherwise, these Paris travel tips provide you with all of the insider knowledge you need to know before you go!