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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Paris, France - Place Des Abbesses

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris (France)Image via Wikipedia

By Harry Preston

After the din of the neighbouring place du Tertre, the tranquil place des Abbesses is the ideal place to pause, enjoy a coffee and take in the absorbing atmosphere of the area. One of Montmartre's prettiest squares, it is just a short walk from the Sacre-Coeur and Pigalle, and is a favoured Sunday morning haunt of local residents as well as visitors.
Surrounding the square are some fine examples of extravagant art nouveau architecture, the most notable of which is the canopied metro entrance that leads to Paris' deepest station at 40m (31 feet). Designed by Hector Guimard, it features amber lanterns and green wrought-iron arches, and is one of the last remaining examples in the city. The Eglise St-Jean-de-Montmartre, which dates from 1904, is named after the abbey that once stood on the site. The decorative windows, which significantly brighten up its otherwise austere facade, date from the same period.
This is where caricaturists, portrait and landscape artists congregate each day to paint local scenes and willing passers-by. Visitors throng these "street studios" so that they can can take home a drawing or painting of themselves. The place du Tertre is a fascinating, though touristy, reminder of a time when Picasso or Renoir may have sat in this very square and painted.
From my personal experience, the surrounding square is an excellent location for a traveller to immerse him or herself in some of Paris best local art architecture. There are many great photo opportunities to be had, so make sure to bring a camera and save a couple hours for the Place des Abbesses.
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