The outbreak of World War I largely evaporated the artistic community in Montmartre. As Picasso, Dali and Degas et al relocated to Montparnasse, a private intellectual breeding ground would emerge on Rue Norvins. Known to its members as R-26, the salon became a meeting ground for some of the worlds most noted creatives.
Haute culture textile designer Robert Perrier and his wife Madaeline, were both respected socialites. The couple and their daughter Marie-Jaques, lived at number 26 Rue Norvins, in a building also home to Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Gen Paul, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Tristan Tzara.
The couples connections in the artistic world brought many eminent artists and designers to their home, where they would discuss work and share ideas. The painter Sonia Delauney, a colleague of Robert’s was one of many painters, including Georges Vantongerloo, that would become frequent members.
On New Years Eve 1930, the events formally became known as “R-26”; R for Robert, 26 for the street number. As the parties increased in number, Swiss architect Le Corbusier (who designed 7 UNESCO world heritage sites) modernised the interior.
Throughout the 30s, as Robert Perrier honed his talents as a songwriter, musicians in their number would arrive. Pierre Dudan took up residence with the Perries in 1935. In ode to the family he wrote the song “Clopin-Clopant”, which became a staple in the salon. The song was later famously recorded by salon members Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt. An English version, “Comme Ci, Comme Ca”, was subsequently recorded by Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra.
The Nazi occupation of Paris halted R-26’s actives, however, its liberation greeted a new social circle. Over the course of two years, the Perriers welcomed a hundred and sixty American servicemen into the salon. Post war, Josephine Baker would join the activities in the salon, as later did Mary-Lou Williams, Henri Salvador and Yves Klein.
Django Reinhardt and the violinist Stéphane Grappelli continued to use R-26 as a rehearsal space for their Jazz group, Quintette du Hot Club de France. Today, they are regarded as one of the most significant continental jazz bands in history.
The soirées would continue throughout the decades, until Robert Perrier passing in 1987. Consequently, Marie-Jacques began to modernise the salon, offering residence to foreign students. She would spend the following 25 years sharing her home with free thinkers and young artists from across the world. Broadening the salons reputation, she often invited members of the French government to attend, such as Prime Minister Alain Juppé.
The legacy of the salon endures through the countless songs that originated between its famous walls, including the tribute song “R. Vignt six”, written by Reinhardt and Grappelli. Today, the exterior of the former number 26 is now 2 Place Marcel-Aymé, next to the Le Passe-muraille mural.
For our guests who wish to visit the former R-26, it is only a 7 minute walk from our location. Book now and discover Montmartre on your doorstep!