Short description

The Abbesses Square (Place des Abbesses) is located at the foot of the Montmartre hill, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, in the Clignancourt district. This charming square is also a landmark of the Parisian metro: it is the deepest station in Paris and its entrance is topped by one of the rare Art nouveau Guimard aedicule (canopy) still "in activity". Others can be seen in museum in several towns in the world.

La station Abbesses (la plus profonde de Paris), sur la ligne 12 comporte une seule entrée.

Localisation
Access

Place des Abbesses
75018 Paris

  • Metro - Abbesses
  • Bus - 30, 54
  • Funicular of Montmartre.
Address

Place des Abbesses
75018 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 53′ 04″ N 2° 20′ 19″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.88439 2.33857
Full description

The Abbesses Square (Place des Abbesses) is located at the foot of the Montmartre hill, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, in the Clignancourt district. This charming square is also a landmark of the Parisian metro: it is the deepest station in Paris and its entrance is topped by one of the rare Guimard aedicule still "in activity".

Origin of the name "Place des Abbesses" (Abbesses Square)

In the 9th and 18th arrondissements, some streets still bear the name of the most famous Abbesses, such as Marguerite de Rochechouart, Louise-Emilie de la Tour d'Auvergne, Marie-Eléonore de Bellefond and Catherine de La Rochefoucauld. It was in this area that the Abbey of Montmartre was founded by King Louis the Fat in 1134, at the request of his wife Adelaide of Savoy.

The Abbey of Montmartre and the Abbesses Square

The entrance to the abbey was located east of the Abbesses Square. The church was on the site of the rue Yvonne-le-Tac, at the intersection with the rue des Martyrs. The conventual buildings were located to the north at the site of rue des Martyrs and the intersection with rue La Vieuville. The gardens of the abbey extended as far east as the current Saint-Pierre market. It was an important abbey, as were the Mères Abbesses.

When it was founded, it was endowed with farmland in the surrounding area, a hamlet, early Christian remains, the church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre at the top of the hill, an ancient necropolis halfway up the hill and a small chapel dedicated to the martyrdom of Saint-Denis, the Sanctum Martyrium. Its buildings, together with the gardens and vineyards, formed a complex of 13 hectares.

Composed of an abbess, Lady of the place, and about 55 nuns, including the lay sisters, it enjoyed 30,000 pounds of rent, this seigniory had high, medium and low justice. The abbey's prison was located in the rue de la Heaumerie and in the cul-de-sac called For-aux-Dames. The nuns had their auditorium and their prison there, which was legal.

The destruction of the Abbey of Montmartre

But the Revolution also came and went. The abbey of Montmartre was closed in 1790, sold in 1794 and demolished, except for the church (Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre).

Throughout its history, between 1134 and 1790, there were 46 Mother Abbesses. The last one remained Mother Abbess for 30 years from 1760 to 1790. She was Marie-Louise de Montmorency-Laval (1723-1794). She was expelled from her abbey with the other nuns on August 19, 1792 and condemned to death on July 24, 1794 as "one of the most cruel enemies of the people [...] accused of having maintained intelligences with the conspirators from across the Rhine". Paralyzed, deaf and blind, she was condemned to death by the public prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court Fouquier-Tinville and guillotined on 8 Thermidor Year II (July 26, 1794).

What remains of the Abbey of Montmartre, in addition to the church of Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre, located on the Butte, is the bell of the Chapelle des Martyrs. This bell topped the chapel of the "abbey below", the Sanctum Martyrium (or Martyrs' Chapel, now disappeared). It dates from 1623. It was commissioned by the abbess Mother Marie de Beauvilliers, then recently purchased by the Société du Vieux Montmartre. Today it can be seen in the choir of the church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre where it has been deposited.

After the different buildings of the Abbey were dismantled in 1794, quarrymen broke up the ground to extract the gypsum.

Line 12 of the metro and the Abbesses station on Abbesses Square

The Abbesses station is the deepest of the Parisian metro (but not of the RER). Two elevators are available, but the brave walker who goes up the stairs can also admire the painted fresco. The Abbesses station is on line 12. It connects outside at street level with the RATP bus line 40 (which goes to the top of the Butte Montmartre).

The station was opened on January 30, 1913, three months after the extension of the line to the Jules Joffrin station. The name of the station obviously comes from the Place des Abbesses, which refers to the leaders of the Dames de Montmartre abbey, several of whom left their names to streets in the 9th and 18th arrondissements.

The Abbesses station is located between the Pigalle and Lamarck - Caulaincourt stations. It was dug underground, under the buildings of the Montmartre hill with a steep 4% gradient. Because of the difference in level on the surface, the station's platforms are located 36 m below the surface, making it the deepest station in the RATP metropolitan network.

The station has a single entrance located on Place des Abbesses, opposite 2, rue La Vieuville. It has kept its original decorations on the echo walls (support walls from the time of construction). The entrance is decorated with a Guimard kiosk that comes from the Hôtel de Ville station. It was moved in 1974 to the Abbesses station, although the Nord-Sud metro company, which operated this station at the time, did not use this kind of aedicule.  It was registered as a historical monument by the decree of May 29, 1978. Two spiral staircases have been renovated with views and frescos more or less related to Montmartre.

The Guimard aedicule, Art Nouveau style, controversial, known worldwide

The aediculae were built between 1900 and 1913, following an apparently rigged competition. Finally the Guimard kiosk won "out of competition" in the controversy and finally ended in a dispute between Guimard and his client, the CMP (Compagnie du Chemin de fer Métropolitain de Paris).

Until the 1960s and 1970s, some of Guimard's "entourages" were dismantled and most of his aediculae were left abandoned and/or destroyed. But at the turn of the 1960's, some dismantlings led to loans and donations to French and foreign public museums or private institutions: the Museum of Modern Art in New York received for example the portico of the Raspail metro station and the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris the entourage of the Montparnasse station. The entire stock of Guimard aediculae still in place is gradually being protected, restored and eventually stored. But it was not until May 29, 1978, under the ministry of Michel d'Ornano, that the 86 structures then listed out of the 167 created by Guimard were protected as historical monuments, a registration renewed on February 12, 2016 when the previously forgotten entourage of the Place de la Nation was added.

A dozen Guimard aedicules are exhibited in museums around the world. One serves as the entrance to the Van Buren Street Station in Chicago on the Metra commuter rail system.

Hector Guimard married the painter Adeline Oppenheim in 1909. He died in New York in 1942.

The Place des Abbesses (Abbesses Square) and "Notre-Dame-des-Briques"

When the metro traveler arrives on the square, he sees the metro station with its Guimard "kiosk", the children's carousel, the cast iron street lamps and the Wallace fountain.

Opposite, on the southwest side of the square, at 19, rue des Abbesses, the church of Saint-Jean l'Évangéliste, nicknamed "Notre-Dame-des-Briques" (Our Lady of the Bricks) since 1904. It is a mixture of Byzantine and Art Nouveau influences. On either side, rue des Abbesses, Durantin, de la Vieuville, Yvonne-le-Tac... alternate trendy boutiques and café terraces where it is good to rest.

A short distance away, in the square Jéhan-Rictus created in 1936, a wall in enamelled lava by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito. The "I love you" is declared in 311 languages.

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  • July 24, 2024 8:30 am local time

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