A walk on the foggy side of the street
Romantic and poetic yet strangely obscure, the lyrically named Allée des Brouillards (The Alley of Mists) and the eponymous Chateau des Brouillards which borders it are two Montmartre legends which seem to have remained surprisingly untouched by touristic interest…
This charming area appreciated by artists like the poet Nerval, the painter Modigliani and the filmmaker Jean Renoir to name but a few, is now a must-see for love pilgrims searching to relive the rural and picturesque spirit of the hill of yesteryear.
A rare find, the Alley and Castle of Mists form the perfect choice for an inspired and contemplative walk for two or a romantic pause away from the crowds of Montmartre.
Their enigmatic name goes a few centuries back when a farm and a windmill named “Les Brouillards” occupied the same location. The “mists” in question probably originated from the water vapours emanating from the numerous springs located in the small plateau and forming a cloak of mist when in contact with the fresh air.
In 1772, an advocate from the Paris Parliament bought the ruins of the mill and its surrounding area of 7000 m2 to build a small “folie” (a suburban building in the form of a castle, built to satisfy a fancy often of an eccentric kind) which he called The Castle of Mists.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the chateau’s servants’ quarters deteriorated significantly. The park and its gardens were invaded by vagrants and gypsies and turned gradually into a wasteland which later became part of the famous “maquis de Montmartre”, so dear to the nostalgic residents of the hill.
Falling to abandonment, in the 1890s the property was occupied by poor artists like Steinlein, Poulbot and Van Dongen who were neighbours with Modigliani and Renoir living in the shacks on the opposite side of this improvised shanty town.
Nevertheless, the same unfortunate slum happened to prevent the destruction of the chateau by the City of Paris, which had originally planned to demolish it in order to connect the parallel Rue Girardon and Rue Simon Dereure. Instead, a small alley was opened to connect the two streets in 1929, more popular today as the charming Allée des Brouillards.
Purchased by the composer and violinist Marius Casadeus in 1928, the Castle of Mists was thus saved and restored to its original beauty.
Yet all those artistic ghosts of the past probably still haunt this magical place, which exudes a special charm to this very day.
That’s why seeing an affectionate couple sharing soft whispers while sitting on the stone balustrades of this tiny alley is not such a rare sight, especially for those loving souls who happen to have a knack for finding the right place in the right time…