Montparnasse in the 1920’s, Paris’s Life of Excess
The district of Montparnasse, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, is today embodied by the bold, black and tall Tour Montparnasse and one of the most dynamic train stations in the French Capital City. At the beginning of the 20th century though, it was the epicentre of an artistic and intellectual life that was as dynamic as it was talented. Still flying under the tourist radar, this district of the Left Bank witnesses the passage of numerous French and expatriate artists who ingeniously put into practice the free-spirited buzz of the Roaring Twenties, that some today still compare to a certain “French art de vivre”!
In the aftermath of the First World War, the 1920s saw the arrival of a whole generation of artists coming from Montmartre in search of cheap studios (their successors were later to be found in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but that’s another story…) Modigliani, Zadkine, Soutine, Chagall and many others formed what came to be known as the “École de Paris” – a group of artists rather than a real artistic movement. Later on, the district welcomed other creative minds in search of an affordable roof over their heads and, above all, a living (and partying) environment to match their thirst for life.
The four traditional brasseries on Boulevard Montparnasse, whose names have now become legendary –Le Dôme, La Rotonde, Le Select and La Coupole– have long enlivened the Parisian nightlife with the innovative sounds of jazz and the exotic rhythms of the Bal nègre, where the dazzling Joséphine Baker captured the spotlight. The Closerie des Lilas was also part of this closed club of prestigious places, where the most illustrious names, such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Foujita, Pablo Picasso and Henry Miller, danced and twirled until the early hours!
But the modernisation of the district has not put an end to its artistic life, far from it! Young students from all over the world still attend the historical art academy of the rue Grande Chaumière. And the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, an exhibition centre for contemporary art and culture, opened its doors in 1994 in a unique glass and steel building by architect Jean Nouvel.
Take a walk with TheWaysBeyond through this legendary district, in the footsteps of the artists and writers who have left their mark on the memory of Paris! A little-known Paris, punctuated by bucolic alleys, hidden workshops, avant-garde cinemas and popular theatres, and where life was everything but boring!
Highlights of this buzzing tour:
– Enter a district mainly frequented by Parisians themselves;
– Review your art history through the places where the greatest minds of the early 20th century lived;
– Step in the tracks of the many foreign artists who have contributed to making Paris a legendary city;
– Enjoy one of the district’s legendary terraces at the end of your walk!
– Public Guided Tours: 17€ / pax.
– Privatisation: 200€ from 1 to 10 pax / 250€ from 11 to 15 pax
TheWaysBeyond is a signatory to the Caring Attitude charter of the Paris Tourist Office.
In this sense, this guided walking tour complies with current health and safety instructions, with the guide wearing a face mask and respecting physical distancing practices and other government-recommended preventive measures.
Participants are asked to please wear a mask and respect physical distancing practices when walking together on the tour.