Bohemia and Counter-Culture



   Cafe Culture

   Daily Life







La Boheme
London 1900's
Beat Culture
Hippie Culture

Works Cited

Cafes were seen as much more than meeting-places to the Bohemians; they were places where...

  • ideas could be explored and shared
  • Bohemians could gather to watch the bourgeoisie
  • much of Bohemian identity was formed

Terrace of a Cafe on Montmartre, painted by Vincent Van Gogh in October, 1886, shows a typical cafe where Bohemians would come to share ideas. During the heyday of Bohemia, most cafes were in the heart of Paris, but later in the 19th century, many Bohemians moved to Montemartre, and their cafes moved with them.

picture courtesy of


Sharing and Exploring Ideas: The Cafe Momus

Mention Bohemia to any Frenchman during the mid-ninteenth century and they would think of the cafes that Murger and his friends frequented. Around tables in these cafes, Bohemians met to socialize and share ideas.

Henry Murger discovered the Cafe Momus, on the Right Bank near the church of Saint-Germaine-l'Auxerrois, in the years preceding 1848. This cafe soon became a popular meeting-place of such important Bohemians as Gustave Courbet and Alexandre Privat d'Anglemont. The Cafe Momus was such an important location for the Bohemians that it was featured in Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.


Forming a Bohemian Identity: The Brasserie des Martyrs

Murger also visited the Chez Dinochau and Brasserie des Martyrs on the Right Bank. The Brasserie des Martyrs, a noisy, smoke-filled cafe in the rue des Martyrs. The Brasserie was a cafe for writers and painters like Murger, Baudelaire and Courbet. The Brasserie des Martyrs was famous for providing a genuine Bohemian atmosphere. Together Murger, Courbet and Baudelaire, who had met in the 1840s in cafes like the Momus, represented three styles of Bohemian life.


When these different types of Bohemianism came together in the cafes to drink coffee, lively discussion almost always followed.