Portrait – Painter Marie Theres Berger, Montmartre, Paris, France. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Local Knowledge Paris.

Local Knowledge Paris – Meet Montmartre Artist Marie Theres Berger

For the Paris edition of Local Knowledge, we get tips from Parisian artist and art historian Marie Theres Berger from Montmartre. It’s a beautiful spring evening when Marie Theres takes us to her small studio, hidden, with a dozen other artists’ ateliers, in a dimly lit lane in the heart of Montmartre. The vibrant colours of her canvases take us back outside into the sunshine and a lovely Paris garden.

A graduate of the Ecole Du Louvre, Paris, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in the USA, Marie Theres Berger has painted since she was a child, and has exhibited everywhere from New York to Berlin.

When Marie Theres is not working from her house in the south of France, she’s busy here in her petite studio in Montmartre where she walks every day from the home she shares with her opera director-husband on the other side of Sacre Coeur.

As Marie Theres loves to meet people from around the world, she leads tours of Paris art museums and walking tours around her home of Montmartre.

“I love Montmartre,” she tells us later over dinner at her home. “It’s a microcosm of Paris. It’s multicultural. It has nightlife and day-life. There are prostitutes, there are bobos, and there are artists… there is the tourist part, but there’s also the everyday life, which is very authentic.”

“The Montmartrois (the people of Montmartre) are also special,” she admits. “They don’t feel like Parisians. There is a distance between them and Parisians. They have always felt different. In fact, it’s been a tradition here to feel different, to feel unique, to feel apart from Paris in a way. The people are what makes Montmartre really special.”

Local Knowledge Paris – Meet Montmartre Artist Marie Theres Berger

Q. So, what do you most love about your work?

A. The colours. I’m a colourist so it’s pretty much all about the colours. I love the way colour interacts and sings together.

Q. Why should people come to Paris?

A. There’s so much to do and see in Paris, from Notre Dame to the Louvre, and all the museums, but after that, visitors should go to Montmartre to see the real Paris. Montmartre is not just Place de Tertre (the square where artists sketch your portrait for a price), it’s the whole area, like Rue des Abbesses, Rue Caulaincourt, and Rue de Clignancourt, where you won’t find any tourists at all.

Q. 3 words to describe Paris?

A. Beautiful, cultured, and accessible.

Q. 3 ways to describe Parisians?

A. Unexpectedly nice, increasingly dynamic, and more and more open.

Q. Top 3 recommendations for visitors?

A. Go to the Musée de Cluny to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry; visit the Nissim de Camondo decorative arts museum in the 17th arrondissement; and enjoy the views of Paris from the steps of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

Q. Best souvenir from Paris?

A. Some cooking utensils from BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville) department store or E Dehillerin.

Q. Must-do eating experiences?

A. Dine at a big traditional Parisian brasserie such as Le Grand Colbert, Brasserie Flo, or Terminus Nord. I love the brasseries, because you know what you’re going to get – the service and food are consistent – and the surroundings are just so beautiful.

Q. An essential thing to know before coming to Paris?

A. You don’t need to order French onion soup when you come here!

Q. Most important phrase to learn in French?

A. Bonjour, Madame. Bonjour, Monsieur. If you add ‘Madame’ or ‘Monsieur’ it makes a big difference in Paris. If you use a few polite terms when you greet people, you will be treated very differently and with greater respect.

Q. Any other advice?

A. Walk! Walk in Paris. The metro is wonderful if you need to go from A to B, but it’s better to walk. Walk and you will really discover the many different sides of Paris, when you’re on your way to where you want to go. Once you’ve explored Montmartre, visit arrondisements like the 5th and the 20th, and spend some time in Paris’ beautiful parks and gardens.


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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

4 thoughts on “Local Knowledge Paris – Meet Montmartre Artist Marie Theres Berger”

  1. What a lovely take on Paris! I really enjoyed reading this and hope it will encourage our tourist friends to get to really know Paris – I’m a parisian (part time Montmartroise) and I didn’t know the hidden gems that Marie-Theres mentions.

    Thanks for the tips and the friendship

    Michele Vannoni

  2. Thanks, Michele! I feel so terrible that I’ve only just discovered your comment here. I’m so sorry! I’m glad that even as a Parisian and a Montmartroise you got something new from this! Merci xx

  3. Although it is possible nowadays to get day passes to museums and basically do it yourself when it comes to art tours in Paris, a private guide is so much better. Especially a Montmartroise whose tales of the not only the artworks but also the life and times of the artists adds so much to the experience.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Julie. I love wandering around museums and galleries on my own, too, but agree, going with an artist or art historian certainly brings another perspective and depth to the experience, and especially on a wander around a neighbourhood imbued with so much art history. Thanks for dropping by!

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