A day in Paris with François Gall

François Gall was not Parisian, nor French. Gall Ferenc, born in Kolozsvar (Hungary) in 1912, moved to the French capital in 1936, charmed by the freedom and the unique magnetic appeal that the ville lumière had on every artist throughout the XX century.

So, how could the protagonist of next Artrust exhibition become “the most French artist of Central Europe”, and be considered one of the greatest post-impressionist of the French tradition?

An original way to discover it is to visit personally Paris the places that the artist frequented daily, going around the city with his Vespa, animated by insatiable desire to reproduce colors and lights on his canvas and give to the viewer its magic.

The same lights and the same magic that you can observe still today, even in a wider and more modern city. That’s why we propose a tour in the corners the artist loved the most. His canvas will be the steps of a long walk that from the Tour Eiffel will lead us to Montmartre.

From the Allée des Cygnes to the Tour Eiffel

Our tour starts in the early morning. The Seine fresh air is a good way to wake up, walking along the Allée des Cygnes: built on an artificial island, 890 meters long and wide just 11, the Allée des Cygnes is a long avenue that offers charming views of the Eiffel Tower. Since it’s morning, we continue towards it to avoid long queues to take elevators leading to its summit.

Among passers-by in Boulevard du Montparnasse

The large and vibrant Parisian avenue, which divides the district of Notre-Dame-des-Champs from the Montparnasse district, has often been immortalized by François Gall who captured the animated moments, passersby and the traffic of cars, buses and carriages with horses. Along the way, we will stop for a visit to the Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs.

Relax at Jardin du Luxembourg

After a long walk, a pause is a must. There’s no better place than the Jardin de Luxembourg, with its wide green spaces, sculptures, fountains, thousands of colored chairs along the street, bikes, children playing along the water with their small boats. A natural corner in which the Palais du Luxembourg stands, seat of the French Senate. After recovering, we point to the elegant Café de Flore, at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-Benoit, frequented by da intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

The Seine and Ile de la Cité

Let’s go now towards the Seine, which in its flow has witnessed all the greatest events in the history of this city. The river, its banks, its streets, its bridges, have been among the most prolific sources of inspiration for Gall, who captured the images in dozens of paintings.

From the Quai des Grands Augustins we cross the Seine through the Pont Saint-Michel to reach the beautiful Ile de la Cité, where the high towers of Notre Dame and the spire of the Sainte-Chapelle dominate the panorama. Visiting them is a must. After that, we walk to Square du Vert-Galant: a romantic green space on the top of the island that offers a unique perspective to see the both sides of the city.

From the Pont Neuf to Saint German l’Auxerrois

We leave the Ile de la Cité by crossing the famous Pont Neuf, which, despite the name, is the oldest bridge in Paris, added in 1991 between the World Heritage Sites by the Unesco. It was right on this bridge that Gall met for the first time Eugénie, his future wife, muse and mother of his three children. Once on the Rive Droite, we can visit the church Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois in Place du Louvre, characterized by a flamboyant Gothic style. Passing from Louvre and its glass pyramid (if you can, go and visit it the next day), we move to the north of the city in Avenue de l’Opera and stop at the Café de la Paix, in front of the Opera. We can take a coffee at the same tables where long time ago sat Émile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway and many others.

The Moulin Rouge

We keep on walking – it is possible to make shopping at Galeries Lafayette – to reach another famous place: the Moulin Rouge. The most known Parisian nightclub, famous for the can-can and licentious dances of the end of XIX century (no longer scandalous today), has often been immortalized by Gall who depicted it has background.

Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre

As in a Dantesque journey, we have to pass the sinful district of Pigalle before climbing with the funicular until the Sacré-Cœur. The gleaming basilica that dominates Paris from above, welcomes us in the artistic quarter, Montmartre. Here the young Gall immigrant from Hungary meets the great European art, making friends with some of the most prominent figures of the time. Gall captures on his canvases the daily theater of artists, passers-by, tourists, who daily crowd the small Place du Terte, transforming it into a real source of art. And it’s here, in the place the most associated to art, that our long walk ends. Just the time for a dinner at “À la Mère Catherine” with some typical French dishes.

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