Neighbourhood Life

The quartier St Georges/Martyrs,
9th arrondissement

A lesser known neighbourhood, but quintessentially Parisian is the area around the Place St Georges and rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement. Laurel Conway has lived here for the last three years and is bowled over by the charms of its daily life and quite extraordinary history just waiting to be revealed. I discovered the neighbourhood while on a amateur’s quest to find the birthplace of French Impressionism.

As an enthusiastic novice of this art and also of Post-Impressionism the trail led me to the (former) Café Guerbois on the Ave de Clichy where artists such as Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne and Sisley gave life to this revolutionary new movement. I continued following their steps to Place Pigalle and beyond where many other legendary names started appearing - Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Delacroix, Picasso, Debussy, Bizet, Chopin, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas.. How was it possible that so many legends could be part of this one small area of Paris?

As their history came alive on every street corner I felt an overwhelming enthusiasm to be part of it; especially as on many street corners there are also cafés, bistrots and boulangeries where locals often have a story to tell about their legendary neighbours.

Since then daily here is full of new discoveries, whether a pâtisserie specialising in macarons or meringues, or the former gallery where Modigliani displayed his paintings for the first and only time during his short life. The works caused such scandal on the opening night that the police ordered the exhibition to be closed immediately!

This exceptional historical heritage seems to mix so easily with the bobo (bourgeois-bohémien) locals who have settled here enjoying the good life of cafés, bistrots, and organic Italian delis which followed them into the neighbourhood. Many now have young families giving the area an even more authentic feel with its past, present and future buzzing with vitality. And that’s just what I’d like to share through these posts.