Avenue du Maine

Arrondissements 14, 15

Numbers: 21, 22, 33, 44, 52, 54, 77, 141,198

The avenue was first called ‘the way to Orléans‘ before becoming known as the ‘Maine road‘ in the 1790s. This eventually stuck because the Château du Maine led off it. That was the name given to a three story private town house built around 1730 also known as ‘Fantasie’ and finally demolished in 1898. The house itself was situated at what is now roughly No. 142 Rue du Château.

Montparnasse was the centre of the Parisian art world In the early 20th century. Mondrian lived and worked at No. 33 at the end of 1911; Douanier Rousseau was at No. 44 from 1893 to 1905; Diego Rivera lived at No 52 after returning from Mexico where he had feted the centenary of the Mexican Revolution.

The Russian artist Marie Vassilieff opened her first art school in 1908 at No. 54 and in 1911 it moved to No. 21. During the First World War she opened a ‘canteen’ there, providing very cheap meals for often starving artists. Apollinaire, Chagall, Matisse and dozens of others benefited. Operating as a private club Vassilieff was also able to avoid the curfew, with music and dancing in the evenings.

Marie Vassilieff’s studio at No 21. In January 1917 she and Picasso evicted a drunk Modigliani from an event celebrating Braque‘s release from military service. A museum at No. 21 opened in 1998 and closed in 2015.

Among others known to have attended her lunch and night club were Trotksy and Rosmer. On May 3 1913 Fernand Léger lectured there on the balance between lines, forms and colours.

After Aimé-Jules Dalou, a supporter of the Paris Commune, was allowed to return from exile in 1879, he lived at No. 22, near his workshop, until he died there in 1902. It was while he was there that he sculpted many of his most famous pieces, including in 1889 his Triumph of the Republic for the Place de la Nation and in 1890 his Monument to Eugene Delacroix for the Luxembourg Garden.

The Brasserie des Trois Mousquetaires at No. 77 was one of many bars Simone de Beauvoir visited between 1937 and 1939.

On 22 November 1941 three young Communists, Albert Gueusquin (alias Bob), Raymond Tardif and Jean Garreau threw a fire bomb into the Hôtel Océan at No. 100 that had been requisitioned for the exclusive use of German soldiers.

After Léon Jouhaux headed up the creation of a new anti-Communist trade union confederation, the Confédération Générale du Travail-Force ouvrière (FO), the funding it received from the CIA allowed it to move into headquarters at No. 198. The Palais d’Orléans the FO took over had been built at the end of the 19th century as a huge house for weddings and banquets. The building has now been transformed into flats.

FO remained at No. 198 until 1996. André Bergeron led the union from there from 1963 to 1989 when he was succeeded by Marc Blondel, under whom FO moved to its newly-built headquarters at No. 141 in 1996.

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