There are few things I love more than spending a lazy Sunday afternoon wandering around a Parisian district, wanderlust glued to my feet, camera firmly in my hands. Picking up one of the many pastries the city has to offer and maybe even cooling off with an ice cream (or two)… And this weekend, when I discovered the Villa des Platanes, panned out no differently to normal!
I spent a lazy sSunday wandering around the (mostly) picturesque arrondissement of Montmartre. A hive of creativity, artist activity and one of Paris trendiest neighbourhoods, it’s definitely not to be missed on any trip to the city of lights. Like Le Marais, Montmartre, too, is littered with Hôtel Particuliers and grand villas.
From the district’s infamous origins as a drinking quarter, notorious for its ‘free living’ lifestyle, to its fame as the inspiration for many a French painter and writer throughout the 1920s, to its chic status as the hub of Parisian ‘bohemian life‘ today, there are always new things to see and discover in Paris’ quirkiest district. And la Villa des Platanes is just one of these things…
Where is the Villa des Platanes?
Situated on 58-60 Boulevard Clichy, merely a stone’s throw away from the infamous windmill of Le Moulin Rouge, sits a rather ordinary looking brick building. It’s not far from the metro stations of Pigalle and Blanche (metro line 2).
But a quick peek through the black lacquered wrought iron gates immediately paints a completely different picture. A grand arched courtyard leads through to a similarly large open air courtyard. This all creates a certain ambience, leading to the star of the show, the horseshoe stairway, reminiscent of grand French château Fontainebleau, leading up to the Villa des Platanes itself.
If you’ve read this blog, then you’ll know I’m just way too nosey. Just this past week, I wrote a post on the prettiest doors I could find in Paris. So after a quick glance, a few photo snaps and I was ready to return home to dig a little deeper into the history of this glamorous villa.
The Villa des Platanes was commissioned and built in 1896, under the supervision of acclaimed local architect Léon Deloeuvre. A blend of gothic, Art Nouveau and renaissance, the building is typical of the era; over-the-top and sumptuous. It turns out that the open air courtyard just beyond the stone archways comes complete with artists’ ateliers and a 19th century folly.
During the romantic era, the villa des Platanes was known as ‘California’ was was home to Marie Duplessis, the mistress of Alexander Dumas, French writer. Her grave is in the nearby cemetery of Cimetière Montmartre.