The history of the Paris mill district

Montmartre is one of the great attractions of Paris, a magical place on a hill above the city from where you can see the entire French capital. A neighborhood known for its artists and its bohemian atmosphere. What not everyone knows is that There was a time when Montmartre was home to the windmills of Paris.

The mill district of Paris

Montmartre Street

The mills of Paris provided for a long time an important part of the income of the city. They were used to grind wheat, corn, grapes and even stone or plaster. There was a lot of work they did.

Nevertheless, They lost importance with the advent of industrialization. and new machines that got the job done faster and cheaper. Thus, little by little they were disappearing from this Parisian hill.

In Montmartre there were fifteen windmills that gave life to a landscape that was immortalized by artists of the stature of Renoir, Van Gogh or Picasso. Of all of them only two remain: Le Radet and Le Blute-Finboth form what is known as the Moulin de la Galette.

The Moulin de la Galette

This mill was owned by the Debray family, very influential characters in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries. A place with a bloody history.

Moulin de la Galette – Arnaud Malon /

Legend says that one of its members was killed in the 1814 revolution. Not only that, but they dismembered him and hung his remains on the blades of the mill in order to show the Parisians the triumph of the Russian troops in the Battle of Paris.

Debray’s wife managed to gather his remains and buried them in the Saint Pierre de Montmartre cemetery, where a mill was placed in his honor over the grave. After Debray’s death, his son converted one of the mills into a dance hall with gardenswhich was a resounding success.

Already In the 1980s, an Italian restaurant was installed at the foot of the mill. Great artists and celebrities passed through it. But with the passage of time and the introduction of new hospitality concepts, the place became old and began to decline.

However, this restaurant adapted to the times and was renovated with a more modern air, thanks to which today it still works. If you want to visit it or eat there, you will easily recognize it.

By the way, If you want to see what the area was like 150 years ago, nothing like visiting the Musée d’Orsay. There you can admire one of Renoir’s great works, Dance at the Moulin de la Galettewhich reflects what the atmosphere was like in this place on a holiday

The Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

We couldn’t fail to mention the Moulin Rouge. Of the Paris windmills, it was, and still is, the most famous. But curiously, it was never used as a mill, since from the beginning it was built to host cabaret shows.

It was founded in 1889, in the midst of the Belle Époque, a time when great changes were beginning to take place in industry and art. The cancan emerged, a provocative dance that was intended to represent the liberation, even sexual, of women.


Criticized by many in its beginnings, the Moulin Rouge was such a success that today, more than 120 years later, it is still in operation.

The show

Show at the Moulin Rouge – Roderick Eime /

The Moulin Rouge is located in one of the most famous streets of the city, Chicly Boulevard. There is also the famous jazz club El Gato Negro. If you want to enjoy it in all its glory and beauty, pay a visit at night.

Needless to say, if you can afford admission to one of their shows, do it! Do not think about it, although we already told you that this costs between 100 and 400 eurosdepending on the artists and the Show.

Sure if you go to Paris you will enjoy to the fullest in the district of the mills, in Montmartre. Stroll through it, make a stop at the wall of the Je t’aime and stop to listen to the street artists who play in its corners. In short, relax and enjoy a neighborhood where the bohemian air and history is breathed in every corner.

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