Place Pigalle

The Place Pigalle is a public square located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris,[1] between the Boulevard de Clichy and the Boulevard de Rochechouart, near Sacré-Cœur, at the foot of the Montmartre hill.

Place Pigalle
Place pigalle.jpg
Former name(s) Place de la Barrière-Montmartre
Namesake Jean-Baptiste Pigalle
Postal code 7440
Nearest metro station Pigalle
Coordinates 48°52′55.8″N 2°20′14.2″E / 48.882167°N 2.337278°E / 48.882167; 2.337278Coordinates: 48°52′55.8″N 2°20′14.2″E / 48.882167°N 2.337278°E / 48.882167; 2.337278

Location and accessEdit

The square is located between Boulevard de Clichy and Boulevard de Rochechouart, near the Sacré-Coeur, at the bottom of Montmartre hill. It is the best known place in the Pigalle district.[2]

This site is served by lines 2 and 12 at Pigalle metro station.

Origin of the nameEdit

The place takes its name from the sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714–1785), and it is the best-known district of the Quartier Pigalle, the Pigalle district.[3]


In 1826, Mr. Brack was authorized to form on his land and on land that the city conceded to him by way of exchange, in accordance with the deliberation of the Conseil municipal of 1 June 1826, a street 12 meters wide, from Rue Laval (now Rue Victor-Massé) to the Porte Montmartre (Montmartre gate), and a semi-circular square in front of this gate.[4] In 1864, this place, named Place de la Barrière-Montmartre, was renamed Place Pigalle.[5][6]

On 18 March 1871, General Clément Thomas, having learned that General Claude Lecomte had been seized by the insurgents during the Paris Commune uprising, set out to find him. Dressed in disguise as a civilian, he arrived at around 5 pm. on Place Pigalle. When one of the rebels recognized him by his big white beard, he was taken to the Rue des Rosiers and executed.

By 1900 the square and the surrounding streets were a neighbourhood of painters' studios and literary cafés of which the most renowned was the Nouvelle Athènes (New Athens).[7] The Place Pigalle inspired a celebrated song by Georges Ulmer: "Un p'tit jet d'eau, une station de métro, entourée de bistrots, Pigalle ... ." ("A little spritz of water, a subway station, surrounded by bistros, Pigalle ... .") "Place Pigalle" is also the title of a song written by Alex Alstone and Maurice Chevalier. It was recorded by Chevalier with orchestra (Jacques Hélian, conductor) in Paris on 9 April 1946.[8] Figure 8 -- Elliott Smith's fifth album and the last he released in his lifetime—was initially titled Place Pigalle.[9] It's also the name of one of his unreleased songs, and he had "two or three more songs" about it. Hungarian pop star Eva Csepregi, of Neoton Familia, mentions the square and its notoriety as a red-light district in her 1987 solo single Párizsi Lány (Paris Girls).

Remarkable buildings and memorable placesEdit

  • No 1: former location of the Café L'Abbaye de Thélème, which exhibited painters.
  • No 3, at the corner with Avenue Frochot: former location of the Café du Rat Mort, which was open at the end of the 19th century all night.
  • No 5: location of the workshop of Gabriel Dauchot (1927-2005), painter from the School of Paris.
  • No 9: former location of the Café de la Nouvelle Athènes. Photographer Paul Sescau (1858-1926) opened his second studio above in 1896 to be as close as possible to his artistic clientele. The Café de la Nouvelle Athènes became Le Sphynx in the 1920s and 1940s, a strip tease place, then the New Moon, which in the 1970s and 1980s welcomed rock groups. The entire original building burnt down in 2004 and was destroyed. This place, which was the property for over thirty years of Hélène Martini, was the subject of a serious study in the work, published at the end of 2017 in Le Seuil, by David Dufresne, writer and former journalist, notably at Libération. The cabaret and the book are the subject of a cultural program (in free download) in October 2017 and on 1 January 2018 (France Culture).[10]
  • No 11: the Folies Pigalle, a former Italian theater, then cabaret and finally cinema hall, which became a nightclub from 1991.


  1. ^ Aran, Sue (2017-11-15). "Here and There: Une Petite Histoire of Place Pigalle in Paris... and Seattle". Bonjour Paris. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  2. ^ "Montmartre and Pigalle area guide". Time Out Paris. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  3. ^ s.r.o, Tripomatic. "Pigalle Square in 9th arrondissement of Paris, Paris, France". Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  4. ^ Recueil des lettres patentes, ordonnances royales, décrets et arrêtés préfectoraux concernant les voies publiques. 1886–1902.
  5. ^ Recueil des lettres patentes, ordonnances royales, décrets et arrêtés préfectoraux concernant les voies publiques (in French). 1886–1902.
  6. ^ Lazare, Félix; Lazare, Louis (1844–1849). Dictionnaire administratif et historique des rues de Paris et de ses monuments / par Félix Lazare,... et Louis Lazare,... (in French).
  7. ^ "art studios in Paris". Footsteps of the Artists. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  8. ^ Pollack, Howard (2017-10-06). The Ballad of John Latouche: An American Lyricist's Life and Work. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-045830-0.
  9. ^ elliottsmithgallery (2017-11-03). "Place Pigalle was both a song and an original working title of Figure 8". so flawed and drunk and perfect still. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  10. ^ "David Dufresne : "En 120 ans, le "New Moon" a eu énormément de vies : QG des impressionnistes, club de jazz, cabaret lesbien…"". France Culture (in French). Retrieved 2020-04-13.
 11. Also mentioned in Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle," p. 18, LOA edition, 2011 isbn 978-1-59853-098-8. Retrieved 02/12/2021