Discover The Windmills of Montmartre

When we’re in Paris, we often stay in an apartment in Rue Lepic in Montmartre. Just across the road is a curious sight for an otherwise urban landscape, a windmill known as La Moulin de la Galette.

Moulin de la Galette, Paris

This windmill is historic and well-known (maybe not quite as well known as the one at the foot of the hill… Le Moulin Rouge). What I didn’t realise was that there were originally thirty windmills on the Butte-Montmartre, but now just two remain.

The one we could see from our apartment window, is also called Moulin du Radet and there is another further down the road obscured behind gates, called Moulin de Blute-Fin. Originally they stood side by side, but in 1924 Moulin du Radet was moved to its current location on the corner of Rue Lepic and Rue Girardon.

Vintage Postcard of the Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre, Paris
Vintage postcard of the Moulin de la Galette – 1906 (image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/

History

Moulin de Blute-Fin was built in 1622 and Moulin du Radet in 1717 and, in the 19th century were purchased by the Debray family to mill flour. Sadly, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, during the siege of Paris, three of the Debray men were killed. The son of the miller later transformed the site to an outdoor dance hall which became a popular night spot.

The galette in the name comes from the Norman word meaning flat cake. In this case, it was a small flat round bread that originally was served with a glass of milk. Later, the milk was swapped for wine.

Inspiration for Artists

The Moulin de la Galette attracted several artists such as Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent Van Gogh who drew inspiration from these windmills for some notable artworks.

Dance at the Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir courtesy of WikiArt. This painting now hangs in the Musée D'Orsay in Paris.
Dance at Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir – 1876 – courtesy of WikiArt. The original of this artwork now hangs in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris.
Le Moulin de la Galette by Vincent Van Gogh, 1886 Paris
Le Moulin de la Galette by Vincent Van Gogh, 1886 Paris – image courtesy of WikiArt.

Ball at the Moulin de la Galette - Henri de Touluse-Lautrec - 1889
Ball at the Moulin de la Galette – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – 1889 (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons )

Present Day

Moulin du Radet is now a restaurant and Moulin de Blute-Fin is part of a private residence and not accessible to the general public.


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