Boulevard de Clichy

Arrondissements: 9, 18

Numbers 4, 6, 11, 20, 36, 62, 64, 82, 104, 122,130

Boulevard de Clichy painted by Van Gogh March-April 1887.

In 1864 Haussmann prolonged the Clichy Boulevard by extending it with the Boulevard des Martyrs and the Boulevard Pigalle. These were the old broad roads that had followed the 18th century tax farmers’ wall around Paris and which had helped lead to the 1789 French Revolution.

When it was still called the Boulevard Pigalle, Daumier lived at what is now 36 Boulevard de Clichy from roughly 1859 to 1863.

Just to the south of the Montmartre hill the Boulevard was the border between a more expensive inner-Paris and a cheaper area for artists to live in and bars serving tax-free booze. Its even numbers on its northern Montmartre side are in the 18th arrondissement, and the odd numbers in the 9th.

Auguste Renoir lived at No. 11 in 1887, when he painted ‘The swing’, featuring his brother Edmond and Norbert Goeneutte, a painter who illustrated Zola‘s novel, Earth.

From 1886 to 1888, Paul Signac‘s studio was at No. 130. He then moved his studio to No. 20 from 1889 to 1891, where Georges Seurat‘s meetings of the Pointilliste artists used to take place on Mondays.

The painting by Vincent van Gogh of the Boulevard de Clichy at the head of this piece was painted when Vincent had just joined his brother Theo in March 1887, staying close by on the Rue de Laval and then from June in the Rue Lepic. Van Gogh was often at No. 62, the Café du Tambourin, where he gave the owner some of his earliest paintings in exchange for meals, and his first exhibition took place. and Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec and others also used to eat there.

When he first arrived in Paris in May 1901, Picasso lived in the 6th floor studio at No. 130ter until 1904 during his ‘blue period’. He later lived at No. 11 from 1909 to 1912; for the last five years of his life Edgar Degas (1834-1917) lived on the fifth floor of No. 6, where he died aged 83.

No. 4 used to be the anarchist bookshop belonging to Jules Erelbach, the man known as Ducret who was murdered by Léon Lacombe for allegedly betraying Garnier, one of the Bonnot gang in 1912. Victor Serge was later sentenced to five years imprisonment for his journalistic support for the gang.

In 1928 Jacques Prévert and his wife Simone lived at No. 64, the Hôtel le Radio. While there he wrote some of his first poems, and was visited by André Breton.

The Moulin Rouge was built in 1889 at No. 82-90 on the site of the White Queen ballroom, where Georges Clemenceau and Louise Michel both attended a big political meeting at the close of the Second Empire in 1870.

In the mid-1920s the Café Le Cyrano at No 82 became the headquarters of the surrealists around Breton.

In the 1950s, Fernand Léger set up an art school studio at No 104, where he taught with his second wife Nadia.

In the middle of the boulevard outside No. 122 there is the base of a statue of Charles Fourier (1772-1837). The utopian socialist thinker was sculpted by the anarchist Émile Derré but the statue was destroyed by the Germans in 1942 to be melted down for armaments

Fourier by Franck Scurti and a century earlier by Emile Derre. Fourier’s argument was that there was something fundamentally wrong with an economic system that sold an apple in Paris at 100 times the price it was sold in Rouen. The huge apple was erected there in 2011.



Rue de l’École-de-Médecine

Arrondissement 6

Numbers: 5, 7, 12, 15-21, 18/20

Named after the Medical School which now occupies much of its length, it received its current name for the first time in 1792 after the nationalisation of the huge Cordeliers monastery complex of the Capuchin Franciscan friars. Before then it was the Rue des Cordeliers.

One branch of the Franciscan (followers of St Francis of Assisi) friars, the hood and beard wearing Minor Capuchins, was particularly important in pre-revolutionary France where it had 284 monasteries. In Paris their Couvent des Cordeliers monastery (possibly so-called after the cords the friars tied around their stomachs) was one of the biggest. It covered an area that stretched from today’s Rue Racine and Rue de La Harpe to approximately 15-21 Rue de l’École de Médecine.

Briefly, between 1793 and 1794 the road was renamed Rue Marat, after the revolutionary who lived and was assassinated there in July 1793. At the overthrow of Robespierre it was immediately renamed the Rue de l’École-de-Santé and then from April 20 1796 it regained its earlier (and current) name.

No. 5 was the location of Louis XV’s free boys’ Royal School for Art and Design from its inception in 1767 until 1928. From 1810 it was funded by the State. Fernand Léger studied there in 1901-1902 after he had stopped studying architecture. the school was built on a medieval Jewish cemetery.

The School of Art and Design at No. 5 and the amphitheatre at No. 7 it was allocated after the new medical school was finished on the other side of the road.

The road’s medical connection dates back to 1255 and in 1763 the Barber-Surgeons Guild funded the building of a small amphitheatre where students could watch them carry out operations at No. 7. The building was given its present columns and courtyard and extended in 1794.

The area became known as the Cordeliers district, and even before 1789 already had a radical tradition. Danton, Desmoulins and Marat all lived in the area. Marat in the Hôtel de Cahors roughly where Nos. 18-20 would have stood. This was where he was murdered.

All of the Cordeliers monasteries were closed in 1790 and so, when the Paris Council abolished the Cordeliers district in the municipal reoganisation, Danton and other area leaders founded a club there in the monastery’s refectory on April 27 1790.

The refectory of the Cordeliers monastery at No 15 is the largest surviving building of the huge religious complex.

The club’s official name was Société des Amis des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen), but it was known as the Club des Cordeliers. Its motto, proposed by Antoine-Francois Momoro, became Liberté, égalité, fraternité or Death. On June 21 1791 it was the first club to call for the Constituent Assembly to proclaim a republic.

On July 17 1792 this was where, after the failure of Louis XVI’s escape bid, Marat proposed a petition declaring ‘royalty incompatible with freedom’. That night, after the Champs de Mars massacre, the constitutional monarchists ordered the closure of the Cordeliers club and its leaders went into hiding.

A year later, on July 16 1793, after his assassination, the monastery garden was where Marat was first buried.

The School of Medicine’s amphitheatres at No. 7 and No. 12 were used as meeting places by several revolutionaries in 1848. These included those involved in the Club des Homme lettrés , the Club central de l’Agriculture, the Club de l’École de Médecine and the Comité électoral du 11ème arrondissement.

The School of Medicine was not only used for anatomical observation. On January 19 1868 Nathalie Le Mel, Eugène Varlin and others met in the small amphitheatre to hold the General Meeting that created the food cooperative called ‘La Marmite‘ (the cooking pot).

The large amphitheatre at No. 12 witnessed the General Assembly of Lithograph Printers on 29 August 1869 when they decided to affiliate to the International Association of Working Men.

From October 1870 more and more meetings took place at No. 12. On April 12 1871 Gustave Courbet was one of 400 artists who met there to elect an Artists’ Committee for the Commune’s Republic (Comité des Artistes pour la République communale). Courbet and 46 others were elected.

Among the other artists attending to set up the Artists Federation were Aimé-Jules Dalou (who later sculpted the ‘Triumph of the Republic’ in the Place de la Nation) Honoré Daumier, Camille Corot, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet and Alexandre Falguière.


Avenue du Maine

Arrondissements 14, 15

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

Avenue du Maine around 1905

In the 1760s the avenue that now runs from the Boulevard du Montparnasse to the Rue de Vaugirard was called the way to Orléans. It only became known as the Maine road in 1791, and finally the Avenue du Maine from 1821. The only connection with one of Louis XIV’s sons, the Duke of Maine, is that in the early 18th century Auguste de Bourbon used to travel down that way from his chateau at Sceaux to his principal town house on the Rue de Varenne.

Close to the heaving left-leaning cultural centre of Montparnasse in the early 20th century, the Avenue was where many artists and writers chose to live and work. 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 after she moved down the Avenue to No. 21 in 1911, Emmeline Pankhurst stayed at No. 54 briefly in 1913.

Marie Vassilieff painted by Modigliani around 1918

During the First World War Vassilieff opened a ‘canteen’ there, providing very cheap meals for often starving artists and their models. Apollinaire, 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 Montmartre Museum at No. 21 opened in 1998 but closed in 2015.

Among others known to have attended Vassilieff’s cheap lunches and night club were Trotksy and Rosmer. Lenin according to one rumour also visited. Her studio walls were covered with paintings by Chagall and Modigliani and with drawings by Picasso and Fernand Léger. On May 5 and 9 1913 Léger lectured there on the balance between lines, forms and colours and representation in contemporary art.

Owned by the City of Paris, No. 21 is now the Villa Vassilieff – a contempory art and research centre ‘ded­i­cated to un-explored resources and aims to rewrite and diver­sify the his­tory of art’.

In 1880, after his return from exile after having been joint administrator of the Louvre during the Commune (he had been sentenced in 1874 to forced labour for life), Jules Dalou lived with his wife and disabled daughter at No. 22, near his studio in the nearby Impasse du Maine (now the Rue Antoine-Bourdelle. Dalou’s studio was knocked down for an extension of the Bourdelle Museum in 1961).

It was while Dalou lived at No. 22 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 agreed to set up 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.



Gustave Courbet sketched this self-portrait at Sainte-Pélagie prison after the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871. He was one of many artists who supported the Commune and is in a line of socialist, anarchist and communist artists who lived and/or worked in Paris and contributed their visions of a world transformed

References to include: Eugène Delacroix

In 1895 Toulouse-Lautrec painted one of a series he had begun in 1889 commissioned by the Moulin Rouge at the Place Blanche. In it he inserted (bottom right) tributes to the editor of La Revue Blanche, Félix Fénéon, and to his friend, Oscar Wilde (second bottom left), whom he had met and painted in London the day before Wilde was jailed for indecency.
Portrait of Felix Feneon by his former fellow political prisoner charged with anarchist sympathies Maximilien Luce. This was pained in 1901