Short description

The Moulin-de-la-Galette is in fact a duo of mills. The history of the Moulin-de-la-Galette is that of 2 mills: the mill called "Le Blute-fin" and the other "Le_Radet", both belonging to the Debray family, millers and ... manufacturers of galettes sold in their famous and very popular ball of the Butte Montmartre along the 19th century!

The "Blute-fin" mill is today the only remaining windmill on the Butte Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, and still in working order.

To know more, a lot more on the Moulin-de-la-Galette in English or in French.

Localisation
Open hours

Le Moulin de la Galette (Restaurant) 83 rue Lepic 75018 Paris (Montmartre) can be seen directly from the street

The Moulin de la Galette ("Le Blute-fin"), located in a private condominium, can only be seen from the rue Lepic. Its postal address is 75-77 rue Lepic 75018 Paris.

Access

Le Moulin de la Galette (Restaurant)
83 rue Lepic
75018 Paris (Montmartre)

Le Moulin de la Galette ("Le Blute-fin")
75-77 rue Lepic
75018 Paris

These 2 streets are neighbors

  • Metro - Lamarck-Caulaincourt (Line 12) and Abbesses (Line 2)
  • Bus - 30, 40, 54 , 80
Address

Le Moulin de la Galette (Restaurant)
83 rue Lepic
75018 Paris (Montmartre)

Le Moulin de la Galette ("Le Blute-fin")
75-77 rue Lepic
75018 Paris

These 2 streets are neighbors

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 53′ 14″ N 2° 20′ 13″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.88733 2.33705

 

Full description

The Moulin-de-la-Galette is in fact a duo of mills. The history of the Moulin-de-la-Galette is that of 2 mills: the mill called "Le Blute-fin" and the other "Le_Radet", both belonging to the Debray family, millers and ... manufacturers of galettes sold in their famous and very popular ball of the Butte Montmartre along the 19th century!

The "Blute-fin" mill is today the only remaining windmill on the Butte Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, and still in working order.

Origin of the Moulin-de-la-Galette

What would later be known as the "Moulin-de-la-Galette" was officially mentioned for the first time in 1622 under the name of "Moulin du Palais", a new name given by the nuns of the Montmartre abbey. The Debray family (19th century owners of the mills) claims that the Blute-fin mill was erected in 1295 (Inscription on a beam indicating this date). The name "Blute-fin" comes from the verb "bluter" which means "to sift the flour to separate it from the bran". The Debray family acquired this mill in 1809.

As for the "2nd mill" and according to the Debrays, the "Radet mill" that the family bought in 1812, it would have existed since 1268 and was formerly called the "Chapon mill", after its previous owner, the miller François Chapon. First installed at the corner of the rue de l'Abreuvoir and the chemin des Regards, it was dismantled many times and moved from the butte Saint-Roch to the butte Montmartre under the reign of Louis XIII. In 1717 it was moved to a plot of land between Norvins, Girardon and Abreuvoir streets. Rebuilt in 1760 under the name of "Radet mill".
In 1812, the Radet in a pitiful "state of preservation is bought by Nicolas-Charles Debray for the very modest sum of 1 200 pounds". It was located at the crossroads of Girardon street and the alley or impasse of the Deux-frères (now disappeared), inside the closed area of the old Debray farm, close to the Blute-fin mill which they already owned and where Debray transferred it.
From 1834 it was transformed into a guinguette on Sundays and holidays, victim of progress (it was not equipped with more efficient Berton wings like the Blute-fin mill) and of competition. The guinguette is in fact installed between the two mills Blute-fin and Radet. A ball appears a little later, which is initially called "the Debray Ball" and will be renamed "Moulin de la Galette", officially only in 1895.

In 1915, the Radet mill narrowly escaped destruction thanks to an association, Les Amis du Vieux Montmartre, and was dismantled and installed on a plot of land in the Rue Girardon.

The Moulin-de-la-Galette nowadays

In 1924, Pierre-Auguste Debray empties the Radet mill of its mechanism. It was moved again to the corner of Girardon and Lepic streets, planted on the roof of a building that had become a restaurant.
In the post-war years, one could still climb onto the wooden terrace on the roof of the nearby Blute-fin to see the whole of Paris unfold at its feet.

Now, the Blute-fin is the last mill of the Butte in working order. It is currently in a private property but cannot be visited. It is not in too bad a condition and the important parts of the mechanism, such as the millstones, still exist. Today, the Blute-fin mill is located exactly at 75-77 rue Lepic and the Radet mill, at the corner of 83 rue Lepic and 1 rue Girardon, both of which represent what used to be the Moulin de la Galette for Parisians and curious people from all over the world, fond of Montmartre legends.

Montmartre balls and artists' paintings

At the beginning of the 19th century, there were still nearly twenty-five mills, both on the heights and on the outskirts of Montmartre. In 1810, Montmartre also had 16 authorized balls, which could announce their opening, and many other balls or guinguettes. The balls opened on Sundays, Mondays and holidays.

Montmartre and Paris: the country and the city

Montmartre and Paris were then two separate communes. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Haut-Montmartre (from the top of the hill) was a village of winegrowers, ploughmen and millers whose mills were already very famous because their owners also ran cabarets. In the middle of the same century, the population became mainly cabaret owners, owners of guinguettes and tables d'hôtes, with a minority generally consisting of employees, workers, and small rentiers attracted by rents and certain consumer products (without octroi duties to pay) that were cheaper than in Paris. Montmartre had 636 inhabitants in 1806 and more than 40,000 souls in the middle of the 19th century - constantly increasing - who settled there because of the Haussmannian demolitions in Paris, which made it safer (gentrification).

The clientele of the guinguettes comes mainly from the Bas-Montmartre and Paris. The Butte remained a pleasant and shady country place, with vineyards on the hillsides and numerous springs, where people liked to go for a walk.

The Debray family through the 19th century

In 1833, one of the sons of the Debray family, nicknamed "le petit père Debray", was the owner of the mills "le Radet" and "le Blute-Fin", bought in 1812 and 1809. He was healed from his wound following a spear blow received in 1814 during the defense of Paris. (Se below "Bloody episode or legend around the Debray family"). He was also a lover of dances and "entrechats". He gathered young men in his mill to teach them his favorite art and the graces of the maintenance that one must bring there. His success made him think of the profit he could make by founding a public ball. He opens the "Debray Ball" on Sundays, located in the yard of the family farm, at the foot of his Blute-fin mill located near the Radet. The following year, Debray transfers the Radet to the interior of his farm. Very quickly, the Bal Debray becomes the "Moulin-de-la-Galette", taking this last name "officially" only in 1895. The entrance is at 3, rue Girardon at the corner of rue Lepic.

The atmosphere at the Moulin-de-la-Galette

From 3 pm to nightfall, people came to dance and taste the famous galettes, made by Debray's wife, accompanied by a glass of milk (possibly donkey milk) - a drink that would later be exchanged for the sour wine grown on the slopes of the hill. The success is immediate and the clientele popular.

New dances appear. The polka is still danced but the quadrille, the chahut and then the cancan and later the French-cancan will become more important. A more professional orchestra is needed to replace the "cripples". The orchestra, which was amateur at the beginning, came under the baton of the composer Auguste Bosc (who founded the Bal Tabarin in 1904).

The future stars of French Cancan, La Goulue and Valentin le Désossé, made their debut at the Moulin-de-la-Galette

Painters and artists such as Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Signac, Utrillo, Van Dongen and Picasso were regular customers, and the place inspired many of them to represent it in their works. It was also the home of some of the most colorful characters of the bohemian world.

The Debray organization of the Moulin-de-la-Galette

From 1833 on, the mill ball operated on Sundays, but the rest of the week remained reserved for milling activities.

Around 1860, the Moulin-de-la-Galette was one of the three remaining mills on the Butte - all belonging to the Debray family: the third, a small mill from Montrouge installed on the Butte in 1830, was destroyed in 1911.

From the 1870s when the mill stopped grinding and until 1914, the ball was open four days a week. It must also be said that from 40,000 around 1850, the population increased to 57,000 inhabitants in 1861, most of whom were driven out of the city following the work of Baron Haussmann.

Today, located just below the Radet mill, there is a restaurant that the famous Franco-Egyptian singer, Dalida, used to frequent regularly. Its original table has even been preserved.

Auguste Renoir's painting entitled Bal du Moulin-de-la-Galette (1876) features an orchestra playing on a stage in the background of the painting on the left, under the globes of a gas light. The composer Auguste Bosc (who founded the Bal Tabarin in 1904) was hired to conduct the orchestra of the mill in the 1880s.

Bloody episode or legend around the Debray family

On March 30, 1814, during the siege of Paris, the Russian imperial army was in Paris, at the gate of Pantin area. Among them were members of the Debray family, millers from father to son, who decided to stand up to the invaders: the four Debray brothers and the only son of the eldest, planted on the heights of the hill. The Russians, commanded by the Count of Langeon (a Frenchman in the service of the Czar), were greeted by a cannonball fired by the eldest of the Debrays, killing several of the attackers. The Russian officer asks that the one who fired the shot surrender. In response, Debray fired at the officer who collapsed, and Debray was shot in return. His son, Nicolas-Charles Debray, who was at his side, was pierced by a spear; he survived, and it was he who, under the Restoration, transformed the mill into a guinguette. In retaliation, the Russians cut up the father's body into four pieces that they tied to the wings of the mill. At nightfall, Debray's wife retrieves the remains of the victim, puts them in flour sacks, and takes them to the Calvaire cemetery next to the Saint-Pierre church in Montmartre. In this battle, three out of five Debrays lost their lives on the northern slope of the hill.

A variation on this legend

But there is another version of this tragic episode - just as tragic, in fact. The people of Montmartre received the following false information from an officer: "Hold on, gentlemen," he shouted to electrify them, "Napoleon is at La Villette! But at La Villette, it was the Prussians and not the emperor. The gunners were chopped up on their guns. Among them were four millers named Debray, the four brothers. Riddled with bayonet blows, the three youngest were left for dead. That evening, the capitulation of Paris took place.

However, the eldest of the Debrays was still serving with his son the guns that were pointed at their mill, when the order to cease fire was given. This brave man had resolved to avenge his brothers; he waited until an enemy column was within range, and sent two bursts of machine gun fire at it. They were Russians of the coalition enemy of Napoleon. They rushed on the battery. The national guards supported the shock, but, overwhelmed by the numbers, they had to surrender. The Russian commander demanded that the man who had ordered the fire be handed over to him, or that prisoners be shot. Debray came out of the ranks and, as the officer put his hand on him, he killed him with a pistol shot. Massacred on the spot by the furious enemy, his corpse was cut into four pieces and hung on each of the wings of the mill.

The following night, the widow of this hero came to detach his remains and had them carried, in a flour sack, to the small cemetery of the church of Saint-Pierre, where his tomb still exists. Her son had been nailed with a spear to the tree of the mill in which he had taken refuge. He survived this horrible wound for thirty years, being able to drink only milk, because his stomach had been damaged. The mill that would have been the scene of this tragedy would have been the one known as But-à-fin.

The final observation: the Debray tomb in the Montmartre cemetery

One or the other of the legends is however confirmed and corresponds to real facts. The Debray tomb does exist in the cemetery of Montmartre. On the top of this tomb, a mill is visible as well as engravings on the side:

"DEBRAY FAMILY", "Pierre-Charles DEBRAY, MEUNIER PROPRIETARY AT MONTMARTRE, DECEASED ON MARCH 30, 1814, KILLED BY ENEMY ON THE BUTTE OF HIS MILL, Aimée-Geneviève BAILLY, Wife of Pierre-Charles DEBRAY, BORN AT MONTMARTRE ON JAN. 11. 1754, DECEASED 25 October 1812.
Nothing is really specified about the miller's son, later nicknamed "the little father Debray", who would be at the initiative of the Galette ball in 1834. This miller's son could no longer drink alcohol following the Russian spear blow, received on March 30, 1814 in the stomach, and this is the reason why he would have initially imposed milk as a drink (accompanied by a galette) at the public ball of the Blute-fin.

The Moulin-de-la-Galette and the arts

From the beginning of the 19th century many painters, most of them forgotten today, were interested in the landscapes of the hillock. Georges Michel, the "Ruysdael of Montmartre", and Théodore Rousseau, painted the two mills from the Plaine Saint-Denis, located north of Paris.

Both mills, the Radet and the Blute-Fin, were painted indiscriminately under the same name of Moulin-de-la-Galette. Huguet, the "Rembrandt of windmills", Jean-Baptiste Corot, and Toulouse-Lautrec painted the Radet in their turn. Auguste Renoir immortalized the famous guinguette located between the two mills in his Bal du Moulin-de-la-Galette. It is the silhouette of the Blute-fin that appears in Picasso's Moulin-de-la-Galette.

Some works represent this very famous place:

  • Ball of the Moulin-de-la-Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876).
  • The Moulin-de-la-Galette, a series of paintings by Van Gogh, as well as: The Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre (1886), preserved in Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
  • The Moulin-de-la-Galette, Pablo Picasso (1900).
  • At the Moulin-de-la-Galette Ball, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
  • At the Moulin-de-la-Galette, Ramon Casas (1892).
  • Moulin-de-la-Galette, Kees van Dongen.
  • The Moulin-de-la-Galette, Maurice Utrillo (1922).
  • The Guinguette, Van Gogh (1886).
  • Windmills in Montmartre, Maurice Utrillo (1949).
  • The Moulin-de-la-Galette, Gen Paul.
  • Le Moulin-de-la-Galette, Louis Vivin (1926), exhibited at the Musée d'art Naïf in Nice.

Eugène Atget also photographed it in 1899

Lucienne Delyle sang Le Moulin-de-la -Galette. Georges Brassens also refers to the Moulin-de-la-Galette in his song Les Amours d'antan:

"But when over the Moulin-de-la-Galette,
She threw for you her simple finery,
It's Psyche in its entirety that jumped out at you."

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Open hours today: 12:00 am - 10:00 pm
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    12:00 am - 10:00 pm

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  • July 24, 2024 8:29 am local time

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