Monday, March 18, 2013

Of Martyrs, Communards and Vignerons

Today my newly arrived friend and I had a self-guided walking tour of Montmartre. What do you think of when you hear the name. For me, the Moulin Rouge, Sacré Coeur and Toulouse-Lautrec are my first associations with the quartier but  Montmartre has a darker historical side.

Statue of Saint Vincent, Patron saint of winemakers ( our favourite)
Montmartre means Mount of Martyrs. St. Denis, who was the first Bishop of Paris and the patron saint of France had his head cut off on the mountain. We visited L'Eglise de St. Pierre de Montmartre which was built on the site of a temple of Mars. A Christian church was erected on the site during the 7th century. In 1534, Ignatius of Loyola founded The Society of Jesus which became the Jesuit order.

We passed the vineyards of Montmartre, the site of which dates from Roman times. The vineyards now belong to the Mairie de Paris and the wine is sold to support social programs in Paris.

Coincidentally, March 18, 1871 was the date that the Commune of Paris began when the dissatisfied workers who had suffered during the Franco-Prussian War seized the cannon on the Butte de Montmartre and the barricades went up. Hundreds of revolutionaries were buried alive in the Montmartre gypsum mines when the government troops dynamited the exits.  The workers' insurrection was suppressed in May and if you visit, Père Lachaise  cemetery, you will see The Communard's Wall where 147 revolutionaries were lined up and shot.  Sacré Coeur was built to celebrate a return to social and moral order.

There is so much than you can learn just wandering through the streets of any Paris neighbourhood. At the end of the day, tired and thirsty, we were happy to go home and honour St. Vincent.



4 comments:

  1. I love the windows in St. Pierre church, so many with the marine references in honour of that fisherman.
    Sounds as if you're having a lovely time -- thanks for bringing us along. . .

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    1. Those windows are really lovely. We are going back on Sunday for Concert de la Passion, a free concert with the choir and organ.

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  2. Thank you for the tour notes! Our restaurant is in "wine country" with a wonderful church amid the vinyards ... not sure if St. Vincent is especially honored or not.

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