Moulin de la Galette

Moulin de la Galette (95)

In the past the entire hill of Montmartre was covered by vineyards, wheat fields and more than 30 mills that stood out against the sky. In those times they were used to grind flour and press grapes. Today, only two of those mills still survive: the Moulin du Radet and the Moulin de la Galette.

The latter is without doubt the most well known. It was built in 1622 and it is said that a relative of the owners died crucified on the sails of this mill, after trying to defend himself from the Cossacks during the siege of Paris on 1814. In the 20th century, this place became a gardened ballroom that was able to inspire such famous artists as Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec or Van Gogh. 

In fact, Vincent Van Gogh lived in this very street, on the steep, commercial Rue Lepic, at number 54, on the first floor, to be precise. We are sure you know works by these artists which in their title contain Le Moulin de la Galette, such as the famous “Ball at the Moulin de Galette” by Renoir, which you can see in the Orsay Museum.

The mill currently functions as a restaurant. It is curious because initially Parisians would also come here to eat on a Sunday. They had a gulp of wine and some cakes, in French “galette”.

As regards the wine of this area, it has a curious history behind it.

In 1929 only one plot remained which was down for urbanisation. To save it, a group of friends designed a plan to convert it into a park. After 5 years it seemed that the land was once again up for sale in the property market, so these friends decided to replant vines on the hill. The plan seemed perfect, except for a small detail. They forgot that vines need 4 years to bear fruit and they had scheduled a harvest festival for October of the same year. Luckily, the French wine producers helped and sent them 30 tons of grapes to celebrate the festival.

Today, they hold a curious and folkloric grape harvest festival on the first Saturday of October. Although the grapes produce little more than 700 bottles of wine per year, there is always a parade with horses, floats, music, fancy dress and, of course, the residents and friends of the area come out onto the street to hold bug banquets. More than a festival of the grape harvest, it is a festival of wine.

If you get the chance, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a bottle of this wine. It is not known for being a particularly good wine, but they say that part of the proceeds go to charity work. So you can make a toast with a clear conscience.

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