I think I’ve just found the most beautiful lobby in Paris. Stunning ceramic murals depicting birds, children, and charming Montmartre scenes. Here are all my pics from inside, plus some background info.
Where is it?
The lobby is at 43 bis rue Damrémont in the 18th arrondissement. It’s behind an unlocked door that leads to a doctor’s office. You can just walk right in. And that’s exactly what I did the other day, rather by chance.
But prepare to be stunned. On the walls are tiled paintings by none other than Poulbot.
Who was Poulbot?
Francisque Poulbot was an illustrator, particularly well known for his drawings of Montmartre street children (among many other things). In fact, French people use the word poulbot to refer to street children (think Gavroche in Les Miserables).
Poulbot himself lived in Montmartre, died in 1946, and was buried in the fantastic Montmartre cemetery.
What do the paintings show?
As you enter the building, you’ll see 12 huge murals showing the four seasons in Montmartre. Each scene shows plenty of little street children (or should I say poulbots…) with some fairly noticeable background details (like the Sacre Coeur and the Galette des Moulins windmill).
These scenes are separated by magnificent marble pillars.
If you walk further along the hallway, a huge skylight naturally illuminates a second wonderful scene. But there aren’t any children, rather exotic landscapes with flamingos, swallows, bluebirds, sparrows and more.
Why are these paintings here?
The paintings were commissioned in 1910 by the owner of the building, which was a public bathing house. Nowadays the baths are long gone and there’s a doctor surgery at the end of the hall (which is why you can get in quite easily during the week). Upstairs appears to be residential apartments.
Below are all the 12 Montmartre scenes in the order you’ll see them (that is, if you were to start on the left hand side). Click to enlarge, you’ll feel like you’ve lived a whole Paris year.
And here’s a closer look at the wildlife scenes a little further in.
The funny thing is, if you walked past this door, you’d never imagine what was inside. Even if you peered through the windows. Here’s a look at the unassuming door, and then what you’d see through the window.
The moral to these murals, of course, is to always inspect things closely in Paris, as you never know what you’ll discover.
Now, I’ve also got some videos from inside this lobby, but I filmed them vertically for Instagram, so go follow along to see more 🙂
And if you liked this story, you’re probably the kind of person who’d like my podcast. Have a listen to some of the episodes below. (And remember, The Earful Sweden podcast launches tomorrow with three new episodes!!)
Happy exploring 🙂