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The Montmartre Museum combines history, beauty and tea

By Rosslyn Hyams

Montmartre in Paris is most widely known as an over-crowded tourist attraction on a hill with a magnificent vista of the city from in front of the Sacré Coeur church.

Its 19th century literary and visual romanticism has drawn so many visitors that souvenir shops now overflow with trinkets and baubles and key-rings and magnets which represent very little in fact of the area which includes its own vineyard.

One of the quieter locations of historical and artistic value in Montmartre is in a side street, and looks onto the vineyard. It's the Montmartre Museum.

The Montmartre Museum was recently renovated. The rooms of its 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings are too small to contain busloads of people at one time. The former Maison du Bel Air for example, invites individual guests over its threshold, or small groups.

The quiet garden, redesigned to reflect works of Auguste Renoir, is big enough for a small party, but on most days it's used for tea or coffee and a light snack before or after viewing the paintings, drawings and lithographs in the museum.

Most of the exhibition contents and permanent collection are works of local artists, many of whom actually painted or drew in the houses which today constitute the Musée de Montmartre. Some of them lived and worked nearby, or were connected with the artists there.

The next exhibition at the Museum of Montmartre is called Steinlen to Satie. It runs from April 15th to September 25th 2106, and of course includes paintings and drawings by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo, Pablo Picasso, Marie Laurencin and Amadeo Modigliani.

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