Cabaret de L'Enfer  

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Cabaret de L'Enfer (1910) by Eugène Atget
Cabaret de L'Enfer (1910) by Eugène Atget

"Le ciel et l'enfer, c'est le poème du Dante mis à la portée de nos flâneries, sur un des boulevards extérieurs de Paris." --La vie à Paris (1896) by Claretie

"We passed through a large, hideous, fanged, open mouth in an enormous face from which shone eyes of blazing crimson. Curiously enough, it adjoined heaven, whose cool blue lights contrasted strikingly with the fierce ruddiness of hell. Red-hot bars and gratings through which flaming coals gleamed appeared in the walls within the red mouth. A placard announced that should the temperature of this inferno make one thirsty, innumerable bocks might be had at sixty-five centimes each. A little red imp guarded the throat of the monster into whose mouth we had walked; he was cutting extraordinary capers, and made a great show of stirring the fires. The red imp opened the imitation heavy metal door for our passage to the interior, crying,—"Ah, ah, ah! still they come! Oh, how they will roast!" Then he looked keenly at Mr. Thompkins. It was interesting to note how that gentleman was always singled out by these shrewd students of humanity. This particular one added with great gusto, as he narrowly studied Mr. Thompkins, "Hist! ye infernal whelps; stir well the coals and heat red the prods, for this is where we take our revenge on earthly saintliness!""--Bohemian Paris of To-day (1899) by W. C. Morrow

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Cabaret de l'Enfer (The Cabaret of Hell) was a famous cabaret in Montmartre, founded in November 1892 by Antonin Alexander and demolished in 1950 to allow for the expansion of a Monoprix supermarket. The Cabaret de L'Enfer was the counterpart to The Cabaret du Ciel (The Cabaret of Sky), another cabaret which shared the same address on the Boulevard de Clichy. Antonin Alexander was the creator, director, and host of the twin ventures.

Jules Claretie, who wrote that future historians of the mores of the Belle Epoque "could not silently pass by these cabarets", described them as "putting Dante's poem within walking distance". For Georges Renault and Henri Château, "Le Ciel and L'Enfer, gaping wide-open all in a row" was worthy of the label "spectacular". The flâneurs of Paris entered through the monumental jaws of Leviathan, devourer of the damned. The intimidating façade was made from stucco.


Atget famously photographed the mouth of hell entrance in 1910. Robert Doisneau would shoot the Cabaret de L'Enfer with a policeman walking past in 1952.

See also

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