Renoir’s garden… what a wonderful place to sketch

One of the biggest highlights of my trip was to spend time in the garden where Renoir lived for around two years in 1875. Where he painted many of his most famous works its hard not to be inspired by the wild gardens surrounding the oldest building in Montmartre. With stunning views of the back of the Sacre Coeur, the cityscape of Paris as well as the neighbouring vineyard, its quiet demeanour really puts it on the map.

In the past it hasn’t just hosted Renoir but a whole load of numerous artists including Emile Bernard, Raoul Duffy, Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo and more… a proper artists haven.

So what a great place to continue my sketching of Paris. I truly felt at home amongst the unruly lavender and pretty flower gardens, spanning across several courtyards plus a large garden at the back. Its no wonder there were ample places to paint and what a quiet retreat considering how close it is to the streets surrounding the busy Sacre Coeur. At first I just had to follow my immediate desire to open my small portable watercolour paints and do some mini sketches of the flower beds, then I changed to my usual graphic pen and started doing some quick-fire sketches of the iron chairs and flowers.

Another interesting element here is the Montmartre museum showing a range of paintings, unfortunately none by Renoir himself. However they showed the different stages of growth of the Montmartre area as it grew through the centuries. Alongside a whole ream of old photographs you could clearly see where the original windmills stood and how the Sacre Coeur was built in stages. My favourite pieces were the graphic illustrative posters by Toulouse-Lautrec as well as an original poster of the ‘Le Chat Noir’… of which very closely resembles the resident black cat for the museum who I saw creeping through the gardens!

P.S. You also get a free audio guide included in the price... so its good value

12 Rue Cortot

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