The Vineyard of Montmartre? Yes, it’s not a joke!

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Did you know that Paris has about ten vineyards, out of 132 in the Ile de France region? The vineyard of Montmartre is one of them. Situated in the rue Saint-Vincent on the slope of the hill (18th arrondissement), it is maybe the most famous vineyard in the French capital. In fact, it is reminiscent of the wine-making past of the Paris region.

The Vineyard of Montmartre

Vineyard of Montmartre in Autumn © French Moments

The vineyard of Montmartre in Autumn © French Moments

The small patch of vineyard on a steep hill seems at odds in Paris. How many sightseers know that the Île de France was once a wine-making region?

In the past, the region included many vineyards in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Rueil-Malmaison, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Suresnes… Since 1932, the vines of Montmartre have continued the centuries-old tradition.

Vineyard of Montmartre in Summer © French Moments

The vineyard of Montmartre in Summer © French Moments

A tradition from the Middle-Ages

The existence of vines in Montmartre is attested as early as 944.

In the 12th century, the nuns of the Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre planted vines on the hill.

At the end of the 15th century, ruined by the wars, the nuns of Montmartre had to sell their land to winegrowers who continued the tradition. However, the only wine press was inside the abbey and the winegrowers had to bring their harvests there.

In the 17th century, the wine of Montmartre was a small wine reserved for local consumption. At that time, wine represented 50% of the abbey’s income in the 16th century and only 5% in 1790, on the eve of the Revolution. With the annexation of Montmartre to Paris in 1860, the vineyards gradually disappeared.

The Renaissance of the vineyard

In 1910, one could still see two vines of the Montmartre vineyard on rue Damrémont and rue Lepic.

In 1929, the painter Francisque Poulbot and a few writer and artist friends saved a piece of municipal land from real estate expansion by planting a few vines.

Then, in 1933, the planting continued with more than three thousand plants of Thomery and three plans of Morgon. The following year, the traditional harvest festival began, which continues every year.

The vineyard today

The vineyard stretch is owned by the City of Paris and covers 1,556 m2. It produces 27 varieties of wine including 75% of Gamay, 20% of Pinot, some stocks of white Sauvignon and Riesling.

The wine production of the ‘Clos de Montmartre’ reaches up to 500 litres per year which represent 1,700 bottles.

Vineyard of Montmartre in Autumn © French Moments

The vineyard of Montmartre in Autumn © French Moments

Curiously, the vineyard grows on the north side of the Montmartre hill, along the rue Saint-Vincent and the rue des Saules (in general, one prefers to plant the vines facing south for optimal sunshine).

Montmartre Walking Tour 13 April 2016 15 © French Moments

Spring in the vineyard of Montmartre © French Moments

The wine has long been considered cheap wine but this is no longer the case as everything is done to make the wine excellent. In fact, an oenologist and a winemaker are now in charge of this vineyard.

Montmartre June 2015 20 copyright French Moments

Rue des Saules and the vineyard of Montmartre in June © French Moments

However, public access is not allowed, except for exceptional occasions, such as the Garden Festival, organised every fall since 1980 by the Paris City Hall.


An old local saying

In the past, the wine of Montmartre had quite a reputation. Indeed, it was then known for its… diuretic properties!

Vineyard of Montmartre in Autumn © French Moments

The vineyard in Autumn © French Moments

Hence a local saying from the 17th century:

The wine of Montmartre

Whoever drinks a pint (0.93 litres) pisses a quart (67 litres)!

(C’est du vin de Montmartre

Qui en boit pinte en pisse quarte)


Montmartre Wine Harvest Festival

Commanderie du Clos de Montmartre © Titou net - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Commanderie du Clos de Montmartre © Titou net – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Each year the harvest of the grapes takes place on the first weekend in October and draws more than 500,000 visitors. This is the opportunity for a festive celebration with wine tastings and cooking workshops, concerts, street parades and fireworks.

In addition, the ‘Clos de Montmartre’ is auctioned each year for €45 a bottle and the proceeds of the sale go to charity.

Accordionist in Montmartre © Titou net - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Accordionist in Montmartre © Titou net – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

👉 Find out more about the hill of Montmartre on the blog.

👉The website of the Comité des Fêtes de Montmartre


What to see around the vineyard of Montmartre

If you come to see the vineyard of Montmartre, you can continue the visit to the district by discovering other interesting sites.

The Montmartre Museum:

Montmartre Hill circa 1842 by Hippolyte Bayard Molinos

Montmartre Hill and the windmills circa 1842 by Hippolyte Bayard Molinos

The cabaret Le Lapin Agile:

Lapin Agile 01 © French Moments

Le Lapin Agile © French Moments

La Maison Rose (corner rue des Saules / rue de l’abreuvoir):

Montmartre June 2015 21 copyright French Moments

La Maison Rose in Montmartre © French Moments

Rue de l’Abreuvoir:

Montmartre Walking Tour 13 April 2016 10 © French Moments

Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Montmartre © French Moments

And finally, the little houses of rue Saint-Vincent:

Montmartre June 2015 17 copyright French Moments

Rue Saint-Vincent, Montmartre © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

4 Comments

  1. This fall, purely coincidentally, I’ll be staying in Montmartre during the wine festival. I’m looking forward to exploring Montmartre and taking part in the festival!

  2. Kirtley Holder on

    My wife and I have visited Montmartre many times over the years and last time was during October’s harvest of Wine. Great time.

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