“Le Chat Noir” is the name of a restaurant and hotel in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. It has a distinct history in that the original version, which opened in 1881, was one of the first modern cabaret nightclubs, serving drinks and performing variety shows on stage.
Since Montmartre in the late 19th and early 20th Century was a bohemian neighborhood, some of the earliest patrons included cultural figures such as Paul Verlaine, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, and Paul Signac, among others. It had such a big reputation that even Picasso searched for it with the hope of visiting when he first came to Paris in 1900.
However, to many people interested in the arts, the name “Le Chat Noir” probably brings to mind the famous poster, below left, which was created by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen in 1896 to serve as an advertisement for the caberet.
The reason why I bring all of this up is because this past Wednesday, when I was actually walking the streets of Montmartre, I walked past the current version of Le Chat Noir, but with a coincidental and somewhat ironic twist, soon after saw a black cat in a local park who decided to strike a somewhat similar pose for me. It’s the only cat I saw that day, so I think it’s pretty funny that I would see it in the same neighborhood as the legendary Le Chat Noir.