Bohemian Route

Discover Montparnasse and the south boundaries of Paris.

  • The BOHEMIAN route will take you up to the left bank of the river Seine and to the south boundaries of Paris.
  • You will meet the artists of Montparnasse, secret areas in the 14th district, and the heroic deeds of the resistance and the Liberation of Paris in August 1944.
  • In addition, if any of you wish to get off the little train to visit the Porte de Vanves flea market or the Marché de la Création Montparnasse, you may do so. The Porte de Vanves flea market is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings: in this area, 400 second-hand good traders sell old objects, paintings, crockery, jewellery and lace. A real delight for bargain hunters! The Marché de la Création Montparnasse is held every Sunday. It presents 120 artists who sell their works of art directly to the public.

To find out more, move your mouse over the numbered points of interest on the map!

Saint-Jacques Street - Way of Saint-James

Saint-Jacques Street - Way of Saint-James

North-south road opened up by the Romans. In the 12th century, during their fight to win Spain back from the Muslims, the Christians called for the entire West to support them and undertake the pilgrimage to Compostela. In Paris, Saint-Jacques tower was the place from where the pilgrims set off. And their road heading south took the name of rue Saint-Jacques, way of Saint-James.

Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny - National Middle Ages Museum

Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny - National Middle Ages Museum

Residence of the Abbots of Cluny, built in 1485 (the Cluny abbey, created in Burgundy in the 10th century, founded a thousand monasteries in France). It houses the National Middle Ages Museum and contains the tapestries of the “Lady and the Unicorn”. A visit to this museum includes a visit to the huge Roman thermal baths, built in the 2nd century. To supply their baths, the Romans provided Lutetia with an aqueduct, which brought water from Orly, in the south of Paris, going via Montsouris.

Odéon Theatre and Odéon Square

Odéon Theatre and Odéon Square

The Odéon theatre was created by King Louis the Fifteenth for the Comédie Française company and inaugurated in 1782. After the revolution, the Comédie Française moved to the Palais Royal on the right bank. Today the “Odéon-Theatre of Europe” performs works by foreign authors. At the end of the 19th century, the Odéon Square became the kingdom of writers and editors.

Luxembourg Palace and Luxembourg Garden

Luxembourg Palace and Luxembourg Garden

This palace was built in 1615 by architect Salomon de Brosse for Queen Marie de Medici, widow of King Henry the Fourth assassinated in 1610. Splendid garden, with terraces, ponds, caves and fountains. The French Senate occupies the Palais du Luxembourg today. The 346 senators who sit in the palace are responsible for examining legislation put forward by the National Assembly.

Vavin Street - Building with terraced levels

Vavin Street - Building with terraced levels

The building of number 26 with its white ceramic frontage was built in 1912 by architects Henri Sauvage and Charles Sarazin. It was the first Parisian construction with terraced levels. With its cascading vegetation, this first garden-city offered spacious and comfortable apartments full of light. The architect Sauvage, who was previously involved in art nouveau, heralded the international post-war style here.

Vavin Crossroads - Pablo Picasso Square - The cafés

Vavin Crossroads - Pablo Picasso Square - The cafés

It is the nerve centre of Montparnasse, with its cafés Le Dôme, La Rotonde, Le Select and La Coupole. From 1908 artists from all over flocked to Montparnasse, longing for the atmosphere of freedom and the bohemian lifestyle that reigned here. Léger, Chagall, Krémègne, Soutine and Kikoïne, Modigliani, Archipenko, Zadkine and Brancusi descended on La Ruche, a complex of 140 artists' studios set up in the 15th district. These artists freed themselves from any official teaching and in 1925 they were grouped together under the name "Ecole de Paris".

Montparnasse Cemetery

Montparnasse Cemetery

The cemetery was created in 1824, outside of the town, like the Père-Lachaise and Montmartre cemeteries at that time. With its 19 hectares planted with trees it is a genuine park housing more than 30,000 graves, among which a lot of writers tombs: Baudelaire, Maupassant, Ionesco, Sartre and de Beauvoir, and left bank artists: Bartholdi, Soutine, Man Ray, Brancusi and Zadkine, without forgetting the singer Serge Gainsbourg.

Edgar Quinet Crossroads - Marché de la Création

Edgar Quinet Crossroads - Marché de la Création

The crossroads corresponds to the former Montparnasse Barrier, one of the gateways of the Fermiers-Généraux wall, where taxes on goods were paid in the 18th century. This place has always been very lively due to the presence of the rue de la Gaité. A big food market is held on the boulevard's central island every Wednesday and Saturday. Every Sunday the Marché de la Création presents there 120 artists who sell their works of art directly to the public.

Breton district - The "crêperies"

Breton district - The "crêperies"

In Delambre street, at number 22, is the entrance to the “Breton Mission”. It was created near Montparnasse train station in 1947, to direct the many Bretons arriving from the west of France and looking for work and accommodation in Paris. The Mission Bretonne, a major Breton cultural centre in Paris, is resolutely turned towards music, dance and singing. Delicious "crêperies" (Breton pancake restaurants) in the district!

Notre Dame des Champs Church

Notre Dame des Champs Church

This church was built in 1876 in a district that was still rustic but already known for its inns and dances.

Studio Raspail

Studio Raspail

In boulevard Raspail, at number 216, is a wonderful example of interwar year architecture. The Studio Raspail was built in 1934 by architect Elkouken for a bourgeois clientele attracted by the artist workshop style. It also included a cinema on the ground floor, closed in 1982.

Campagne-Première Street - Arfvidson building

Campagne-Première Street - Arfvidson building

Campagne-Première street begins with the building by André Arfvidson. Thanks to its flambé sandstone coating, this building won a prize in the façade competition run by the town of Paris in 1911. The whole street is devoted to artists. In the interwar years it welcomed photographers Man Ray and Eugène Atget and in the 1950's painters Foujita and Yves Klein.

School of Architecture and Camondo School

School of Architecture and Camondo School

These two schools form a sort of student campus. The façade of the School of Architecture imitates those of 15th century Italian homes, while the Camondo School occupies a very contemporary building. The Camondo School depends on Decorative Arts and trains interior designers. Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Wilmotte were students there.

Cartier Foundation

Cartier Foundation

Glass arch realised by Jean Nouvel in 1994. The aim of the Cartier Foundation is to promote contemporary art, organising large-scale exhibitions which attract a large public. In its garden, in front of the entrance, one can admire the cedar from Lebanon planted in 1823 by the writer François-René de Châteaubriand, who owned this property.

Denfert-Rochereau Square

Denfert-Rochereau Square

It was first of all called place d’Enfer - Hell Square, because in the Middle Ages it was believed that the devil lived near here. It was rechristened "Place Denfert-Rochereau" as a tribute to the governor who in 1871 defended the town of Belfort in the east of France against Prussian troops. The Lion (Auguste Bartholdi - 1880) symbolises Belfort's resistance. The two symmetrical pavilions were built by architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux in 1784. They were used as a customs post where you paid a tax on goods. One of them is now the entrance to the Catacombs of Paris, open to the public.

Hallé district - Village of Orléans

Hallé district - Village of Orléans

It was one of the first housing estates of the future 14th district. In 1830 real estate speculators divided up a few streets and marketed the plots of land brought together under the name "Village of Orléans". In Hallé street, the semicircular little square has retained all its charm.

Tombe Issoire Street and legend of Isoré

Tombe Issoire Street and legend of Isoré

Once upon a time in the Middle Ages there was a giant named Isoré, who robbed travellers and pilgrims on their way to Orléans and Compostela. Just after the year 800, at the end of a terrible fight, Isoré died, beheaded by Knight Guillaume d’Orange. Isoré was buried on the spot and the road to Orléans became Isoré’s Tomb, or Tombe-Issoire road.

Villa Seurat

Villa Seurat

A leading 1920's construction. This private cul-de-sac was divided into plots by architect André Lurçat with the aim of offering artists studios that were cheaper than in Montparnasse. He built a whole series of cottages between 1924 and 1931 for his brother the upholsterer Jean Lurçat, for the painter Marcel Gromaire and for other artists. Chaïm Soutine retired there in 1937 after making a fortune thanks to Gertrude Stein.

Franciscan Convent

Franciscan Convent

With its high skyline of brick and red stone, it is typical of the architecture in 1935. Contrary to the next street name the painter Henri Rousseau never lived there, but rather towards Montparnasse station.

Cité du Souvenir and Artists Street

Cité du Souvenir and Artists Street

One of the district's most important philanthropic works. This social estate of 200 apartments intended for victims of the 14-18 war, the mutilated, widows and orphans, was undertaken by Father Keller, a figure of the 14th district. The Cité du Souvenir, contemporary of the artists’ cottages, was inaugurated in 1927. Next to it, the Artists street contains a number of workshops, like the studio-house 1929 of Jean-Julien Lemordant, a painter from Brittany. Gauguet street was Nicolas de Staël's address from 1947.

Montsouris Park

Montsouris Park

This park of 15 hectares was created on the initiative of emperor Napoleon the Third who wanted to offer Parisians a green area at each cardinal point of the capital. Haussmann and his engineer Alphand were in charge of the work from 1863 to 1878. Taking inspiration from London’s parks, they staged a hilly landscape, created a lake and waterfalls and favoured lawns and big trees. Around the lake families enjoy the puppet theatre, pony rides, outdoor games and the music kiosk.

Gallo-Roman aqueduct and Marie de Medici's aqueduct

Gallo-Roman aqueduct and Marie de Medici's aqueduct

Two historic aqueducts from the south of Paris run through the Montsouris park alongside one another. On the pavement in Reille avenue two windows allow you to see the vestiges. One window shows a section of the Gallo-Roman aqueduct from the 2nd century. The other one allows you to discover a part of Marie de Medici’s aqueduct, from 1623.

Jean Perzel building

Jean Perzel building

The building at the sign of Jean Perzel, artist glassblower, was built in 1930. It is by Michel Roux-Spitz, a reference of Parisian interwar architecture whose style is characterised by white stone façades and bow-windows with the corner cut-off. Aviator Jean Mermoz lived in this building and made a habit on each flight of flying over it to say hello to his family.

T3 tramway

T3 tramway

On the boulevards known as the "Field Marshalls” boulevards, the T3 tramway, which serves the southern outskirts of Paris, has been running since 2006.

Charléty stadium

Charléty stadium

This beautiful white aerial stadium with a capacity of 20,000 is the sporting flagship of the left bank. It was rebuilt in 1994. Around it the French Olympics Committee, the Athletics Federation and the Paris Universitaire Club are grouped together.

Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

A campus where 5,000 students of more than 120 different nationalities reside. The campus was decided on in 1922. 37 pavilions, financed by their respective country, were built between 1923 and 1968. The different projects had total freedom, so much so that the campus has become a genuine outdoor architecture museum. Le Corbusier designed the pavilions for Switzerland and Brazil there.

South marker of the Meridian - Meteorological Centre

South marker of the Meridian - Meteorological Centre

The very high part in the south of Montsouris Park has for a long time played a scientific role. The stone stele with an oculus is the south marker of the Paris meridian running through it, which also goes through the Observatory and the North marker on the Montmartre hill. The park also houses the Paris-Montsouris Meteorological Centre. Created in 1872, it's the oldest weather station in France.

Guggenbühl Villa and Gault House

Guggenbühl Villa and Gault House

André Lurçat built the cubic-shaped Guggenbühl Villa in 1927. Although this house has undergone unfortunate transformations, it remains one of the most famous examples of modern architecture in Paris with its glass block awning on the roof. The Gault house is a realisation by the Perret brothers in 1932. It marks the entrance of the Square de Montsouris, a charming street divided in 1923 into 62 plots of inexpensive land. The Square de Montsouris was the address of painters Foujita and André Derain during their glory years.

Ozenfant Villa

Ozenfant Villa

This white house is Le Corbusier's first creation in Paris. This studio-house of painter Amédée Ozenfant, the Swiss architect's first French customer, dates back to 1923. It heralded future villas by Le Corbusier like the Villa Savoye in Poissy. Next to it, at numbers 55 and 57, artist houses with 3 floors with their bow- and bay-windows built in 1925 represent another wonderful example of the modern movement.

Montsouris reservoir

Montsouris reservoir

It was realised in 1874 by Haussmann and engineer Belgrand to supply the south part of Paris with water, and it still works. The reservoir has impressive dimensions: 265 m long by 135 m wide. Belgrand positioned it at an altitude of 80 metres above all the buildings of the left bank, to guarantee sufficient water pressure at all floors. At the same time Belgrand equipped the south of Paris with a third aqueduct, called La Vanne. Since 1900 it has been completed by the aqueduct of the Loing River and the Lunain River.

Dutch Academy

Dutch Academy

One of the Cité Universitaire's main buildings. This pure avant-garde place was designed in 1927 by modern architect Dudok in a spirit influenced by Franck Lloyd Wright. Thanks to its formal geometry, pure façades and use of horizontals it is now a listed building. It is currently closed for renovations that should restore its original splendour.

Red belt for inexpensive housing

Red belt for inexpensive housing

The "red belt" of brick buildings was built between 1923 and 1935 for welfare programmes of the Parisian agencies for inexpensive housing, on the site of the former fortifications of Thiers, that had surrounded Paris from 1841-1844 to 1919. The red belt provided great architectural quality and modern conveniences. The levelling of the fortifications left also space for a "green belt" of stadiums and sports facilities.

Porte d'Orléans - General Leclerc Memorial

Porte d'Orléans - General Leclerc Memorial

Strategic gateway for entering the south of Paris. For long time wheat from Beauce had to pass through here, before being transformed into flour in the windmills of the Petit Montrouge plateau. The first tramway appeared in the 19th century. Line 4 of the underground opened in 1909. On the 25th of August 1944, General Leclerc and his 2nd Armoured Division crossed the Porte d'Orléans here, marking the beginning of the Liberation of Paris. The General Leclerc Memorial honours the 1800 soldiers of his division who died liberating France.

Saint-Pierre de Montrouge Church

Saint-Pierre de Montrouge Church

Built by architect Vaudremer between 1863 and 1872, after the connection of Petit-Montrouge to Paris in 1860. The 14th district was created and developing.

Montrouge Cemetery

Montrouge Cemetery

Opened in 1819. At that time it belongs to Montrouge. Then it was connected to Paris in 1860. Nicolas de Staël is buried there with his first wife. One can also find the tumbs of Michel Audiard, Coluche, Henri Queffelec and Cécile Aubry.

Porte de Vanves flea market - Theatre 14 Jean-Marie Serreau

Porte de Vanves flea market - Theatre 14 Jean-Marie Serreau

The Porte de Vanves flea market is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings all year round. 400 professional antique dealers and second-hand goods traders sell old objects, paintings, crockery, jewellery and lace. A real delight for bargain hunters! Next to the market is the Théâtre 14 Jean-Marie Serreau. This municipal theatre flies the 14th district's flag high by collecting artistic rewards.

Small ring railway

Small ring railway

In the middle of this flat expanse of land which was just young trees nurseries, market gardens and horticultural farmsland, the "petite ceinture", small ring railway, opened in 1867. This railway's activity stopped in 1934, the tracks remain as is and the flora and fauna quietly overrun it.

Alberto Giacometti's workshop

Alberto Giacometti's workshop

The Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti worked there for nearly 40 years until his death in 1966. In a tiny workshop with no modern conveniences, he created works that are famous worldwide: his "Walking Men".

Cartier-Bresson Foundation

Cartier-Bresson Foundation

Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's foundation is set up in an artist's house from 1912. Its façade, half-way between art nouveau and art deco, with its border of yellow ivy and its door with geometric motifs, won a prize in the façade competition of the town of Paris. The foundation organises several exhibitions a year and encourages photographic creation with a prize awarded every two years.

Gaité street - The theatres

Gaité street - The theatres

Previously situated outside the Fermiers-Généraux wall, it was a land of milk and honey where wine was not taxed and where you went to have fun. It was reputed for its balls, cabarets and dance halls ... There are now theatres and restaurants to liven it up every evening : the Gaité-Montparnasse theatre (1868), the Montparnasse theatre (1819 then rebuilt in 1886), the Bobino music hall was, the Comédie-Italienne (1975), the Rive-Gauche theatre. It's here at the Edgar-Quinet crossroads that Parisian “cafés-theatres” were born in the 1970’s, such as the “Café d'Edgar”.

Montparnasse Tower

Montparnasse Tower

This skyscraper 210 metres high is an office building where approximately 5000 people work. It was one of the most controversial building sites in the 1970's. In any case, its panoramic terrace on the 56th floor offers one of the most beautiful views of the capital!

Montparnasse railway station

Montparnasse railway station

The first Montparnasse station was opened in 1840 to serve Versailles in the suburbs west of Paris. This station was swept away by a storm! Then a second station followed immediately afterwards with a metallic and glass frame, intended to link Paris to Brittany and the greater west of France. It was here that General Leclerc received the German surrender that liberated Paris on the 25th of August 1944. This second station was demolished in 1965, leaving room for the Montparnasse Tower. A third, new station was built in 1969. Since 1990, it is the station of the high-speed-train Atlantic TGV.

IAURIF and Advancia school

IAURIF and Advancia school

Two resolutely contemporary building. The smooth façade with the arched canopy was dreamt up to be the head office of the daily Le Monde in 1990, which wanted to evoke reliability, modernity and transparency. This building is now the head office of the Regional Institute for Architecture and Town Planning. Opposite, the wavy, colourful façade of the Advancia business school is the spectacular result of a building operation completed in 2010 by the Architecture Studio agency.

Montparnasse Museum

Montparnasse Museum

The Montparnasse Museum is hidden between houses covered with Virginia creeper. It is nestled in a charming paved path. Here in 1912 Russian Marie Vassilieff had created the Montparnasse Academy and opened an inexpensive canteen which became the meeting place for most of the artists of the future group “Ecole de Paris”.

Bourdelle Museum

Bourdelle Museum

Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, student of Falguière and Rodin, lived and worked here from 1884 to 1929. The legacy of his studios and collections, left to the Town of Paris, allowed the museum to open in 1949. The garden presents bronzes by Bourdelle. The monumental horse and the four characters standing along the archways are part of the monument commissioned by Argentina to Bourdelle in 1913 in honour of General Alvear. Today it is one of the most popular monuments in Buenos-Aires.

Atlantic public garden

Atlantic public garden

A contemporary park developed in 1994 on the slabs that cover the railways and platforms of Montparnasse station. Besides the lawns that are the joy of the children of the district, the Atlantic Garden houses the Maréchal-Leclerc Memorial and the Jean Moulin Museum. The station's district, dense, popular and unhealthy in the past, was almost entirely demolished in the 1970's. Therefore nothing remains of the studio where painter Paul Gauguin lived in 1895, either of the three successive studios where Henri Rousseau, a customs officer of Porte de Vanves, painted his imaginary exotic gardens.

Catalonia Square

Catalonia Square

This square, Place de Catalogne, owes its name to Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill who in 1985 built the complex of 600 apartments called "The Columns". This complex is organised around two big round pedestrian squares, invisible from the square, onto which the apartment living rooms overlook. The centre of the square is occupied by the fountain named "The crucible of time", a sloping stone disc dreamt up by Shamaï Haber, artist of the district.

Notre Dame du Travail Church

Notre Dame du Travail Church

Built to receive the numerous workers who settled in Plaisance, it is the contemporary of the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The church was designed in a modern style with an entirely metallic frame and art nouveau ornamentation.

Town Hall of the 14th district

Town Hall of the 14th district

Started in 1852 for the commune of Montrouge it became the Town Hall of the 14th district during the annexation of 1860. It celebrated three of the four weddings of painter Foujita, as well as those of Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti. The garden, created in 1862, is part of the public gardens planted under the reign of emperor Napoleon the Third by Alphand, Haussmann's gardener, to embellish and ventilate Paris.

Schoelcher Street - Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir

Schoelcher Street - Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir

At number 11, the building with its big vertical bay windows and indoor mezzanines dates back to 1927. It was aimed at the enlightened bourgeoisie who dreamt of apartments that looked like artists' studios. The number 11 was the residence of writer Simone de Beauvoir from 1955 until her death in 1986. The end of the street presents several houses built around 1910. Number 5 bis was Picasso's workshop from 1912 to 1917. Number 5 is a little art nouveau gem with its fine ceramics around its door.

Oratory Chapel

Oratory Chapel

Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital has been here since 1802. Before it since the 17th century was the religious community of the Oratory, dismantled during the revolution. There remains the Oratory Chapel, built in 1655 by architect Daniel Gittard.

House of the Fountain Engineers

House of the Fountain Engineers

This house, situated on Marie de Medici’s aqueduct, accommodated its hydraulic and fountain engineers. In the basement, a big reservoir supplied the Luxembourg Garden and the public fountains with water. It stopped its activity in 1874, following the commissioning of the Montsouris reservoirs, but the basin still exists and can be visited during Heritage Days.

Paris Observatory

Paris Observatory

Its foundation was decided in 1667 by Colbert, minister to Louis the Fourteenth. The observatory was built by architect Perrault and astronomer Cassini. Scholars succeeded one another there: in the 18th century, the Cassini family; in the 19th century, astronomer Le Verrier discovered the planet Neptune, Arago brought science into general use, Foucault carried out the experiment with a pendulum and also calculated the speed of light. The Paris Observatory is the oldest observatory in the world still in operation.

Port-Royal Crossroads - La Closerie des Lilas

Port-Royal Crossroads - La Closerie des Lilas

In the 19th century, this modest dance hall in blossom became a fashionable ball launching new dances like the Mazurka and the Scottish. In 1905 La Closerie des Lilas became a literary café. Painters like Modigliani, Picasso, Braque, Léger and Derain flocked there too. And it seems that Hemingway spent so much time writing at the bar there that the mark of his elbow remained!

Former Val de Grâce Abbey - Val de Grâce Church

Former Val de Grâce Abbey - Val de Grâce Church

The abbey was founded in 1621 by Anne of Austria, wife of Louis the Thirteenth. When she finally fell pregnant after 23 years of marriage, she promised to build a church to Val de Grâce if she delivered a son. The so longed-for son, Louis the Fourteenth, laid, at the age of 7, the first stone of the royal church commissioned to architect François Mansart. The church was finished in 1667. After the revolution the abbey was transformed into a military training hospital, and, in 1979, a modern hospital was built in its gardens at the rear.

Pantheon

Pantheon

This monument was commissioned by King Louis the Fifteenth to be the new Sainte-Geneviève church. It was designed by architect Soufflot and finished in 1789, just before the revolution. Revolutionaries turned the church into the Pantheon, a civic temple dedicated to illustrious men, where they installed philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau. Today 67 personages rest at the national Pantheon beneath the inscription “To great men, a grateful homeland”.

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