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Montmartre Walking Tour

Updated: February 13, 2023
 By Christina

This post is a free and self-guided walking tour of Montmatre, one of Paris's most iconic neighborhoods, along with a map.

We also provide an audio tour version that is GPS-enabled to help guide you through the area. 

And lastly, we provide a comparison of the various live-guided Montmartre walking tours, including, free walks, food tours, and art walks.

The neighborhood is a popular destination for visitors from around the world who are eager to follow in the footsteps of artistic legends such as Dali, Degas, and Hemingway, among several others.

The Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur Cathedral are especially famous attractions that have been attracting visitors, and tour companies, to the neighborhood for decades.

Click the Montmartre walking tour map to enlarge it.


This self-guided tour should take between 2 and 4 hours depending on how long you dwell at each stop. In reality, there's no more than 1 hour of walking.

The tour begins at Place Pigalle (map). Take the metro to Pigalle on line 2 or 12 and prepare to stroll in the footsteps of geniuses. The tour ends near where it starts.

We also offer our own, GPS-led audio tour, developed and narrated by one of our local tour guides, Christina.

Here is a sample of the tour.

Place Pigalle

Take the metro to Pigalle on line 2 or 12 and prepare to stroll in the footsteps of geniuses.

Exit the metro and you’ll find yourself in Place Pigalle on the Boulevard de Clichy (map).

Downhill you’ll head back into Paris and going across either east or west you’ll be walking around the Butte du Montmartre or the hill of the martyrs.

We’ll find out about the name later, but in the late 19th Century this went from being the countryside outside of the city to the most radical artistic neighborhood in the world.


Looking down the hill you’ll see a nightclub called Folies Pigalle, this was once the café Nouvelle Athènes frequented by Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Degas where the latter painted his famous L’Absinthe (see picture).

Back then absinthe, a supposedly hallucinogenic drink made of anise, fennel, herbs, and wormwood, was all the rage but we’ll hear more about that later too.

By the 1940s, the bar had become a striptease club where the Nazis and later French Resistance fighters would relax.

Sex and the erotic have always been a big part of the Montmartre story. Looking around today you’ll see lots of clubs and sex shops along the Boulevard.

It can be quite seedy here at night, but as we head up the hill you’ll notice the atmosphere becomes much less bawdy.

The name Pigalle comes from the 18th-Century painter, Jean Baptiste Pigalle, but American GIs arriving in Paris after its liberation by Free French forces found the same pleasures here and nicknamed the area Pig Alley!

Right now we’re going to head west along Pig Alley (the Boulevard de Clichy) keep downhill on your left and uphill on your right.

Le Chat Noir

(68 Boulevard de Clichy)


You are standing in front of the world’s first modern cabaret.

La Chat Noir is now most famous for stylish retro posters on a thousand student walls (see picture).

But this was the soul of Belle Époque Paris, a place where fashionable artists came to be entertained at their tables by raucous music hall entertainment.

The club opened in 1881 as the meeting place of Les Hyrdopathes a group of artists who preferred wine to water!

The doormen at the club dressed like the Pope’s Vatican Swiss Guard but their job was to stop priests and the military people from entering this bohemian and radical club.

The list of famous patrons is like a who’s who of modern art and culture; the musician Claude Debussy, the singer Aristide Bruant and painters like Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec was a fascinating character. Born to a noble family with a history of inbreeding, Toulouse broke both legs when aged 14, and his legs ceased to grow, leaving him with an adult torso, a child’s legs, and hypertrophied genitals!

He became the center of the Montmartre social scene, a leading post-impressionist painter, and a legendary lover to many local prostitutes and models.

From this, he contracted syphilis, went crazy, and drank himself to death at the age of 36.

Today he’s probably best known for designing the posters and flyers for the most famous cabaret in the world.

You probably don’t need us to tell you the name of that cabaret, keep walking west on the Boulevard de Clichy, and on your right, you’ll spot a big red windmill!

Le Moulin Rouge


The original red windmill stood atop a low building here which marked the entrance to the cabaret where kings and paupers could mix and watch girls dancing the famous Can-Can dance.

That windmill burned down in a fire, but the club was rebuilt and continues to wow audiences.

The Can Can, where dancers kick up their legs one after the other, getting quicker and quicker, was originally danced by both sexes but women in the late nineteenth century wore open underclothes which would occasionally flash audiences as they danced.

Here at the Moulin Rouge, they found that the more the girls flashed the more customers kept returning, and over the years the underclothes got shorter and shorter as the club became more and more famous.

Baz Luhrmann’s film with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor reignited interest in the club in 2001.

If you’ve seen the film John Leguizamo’s character is based on the painter Toulouse Lautrec.

The Moulin Rouge remains one of the main attractions in Paris with shows every night at 21:00 (9 pm) and 23:00 (11 pm).

Tickets start at 87€ per person, it’s not cheap but will certainly be an unforgettable evening.

For now, let’s head up into Montmartre. Turn back towards the Blanche Metro stop and then left up Rue Lepic.

Café des Deux Moulins

As you head up Rue Lepic, you’ll find this charming café-bar on the left-hand side - 15 Rue Lepic (map)

Movie lovers will instantly recognize this as Amelie’s workplace from the famous 2001 French film; Amelie. The quirky love story is set around Paris but focuses heavily on Montmartre.

Café des Deux Moulins

The cigarette machine from the film is missing but the Café’s bathroom remains identical to how it is in the raunchy movie scene!

Despite its fame, the Café des Deux Moulins is no more pricey than other cafés and restaurants in the area.

A top tip for saving money in Paris is to drink at the bar. You will pay a higher price for table service and an even higher price for sitting outside on the terrace.

Continue up Rue Lepic, you will get to what looks like a junction, but turn left and you’ll find that Rue Lepic continues curving its way up the hill.

Van Gogh’s House 

As Rue Lepic turns right uphill you’ll find a plaque on the wall at 54 Rue Lepic (map) commemorating Vincent Van Gogh’s time here.

Vincent Van Gogh in Paris

This was the home of Theo Van Gogh, Vincent's brother, who worked for a local art dealer. Vincent showed up in 1886 penniless and moved in with his brother.

This began a 2-year stint in Paris. It's here where Vincent's studio was set up (well, it was his bedroom).

In Paris Van Gogh became interested in Japanese art, pointillism, and impressionism and was hanging out with artists like Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and Camille Pissarro and his art took a transformative turn in these days.

Financial success eluded him to this point. Ironically, Van Gogh's poverty led him to focus on painting inexpensive and readily available items, which is why many of his paintings of this era involve flowers.

This is also the period when he painted several versions of his self-portrait.

For more information on his time here in Paris, there is an excellent article, which was a source for this entry, as well as an online exhibit.

Le Moulin de la Galette

Stop on Rue Lepic at the corner with Rue Tholozé (map) for fantastic views down into Paris. Cast your eyes upwards and you’ll see the Moulin de la Galette.

Le Moulin de la Galette Windmill

A galette is a kind of wholemeal crepe that was a staple food of the poor of Montmartre and Paris at the turn of the 20th Century.

The windmill here is the only original windmill remaining today, but back then, Montmartre was full of windmills. This one is famous for two reasons:

During the 1870 Prussian siege of Paris, the mill’s owners defended the area and the miller was nailed to the sails of the mill in punishment by Prussian soldiers.

On a happier note, the mill was famous as a café, cabaret, and meeting point for artists. Many painted scenes here, but most famously Pierre-August Renoir.


Renoir and the impressionists took art away from trying to capture purely accurate images. They preferred to show how things move and change over time as light changes from morning to evening.

Renoir’s Moulin de la Galette painting appears in the film Amelie for those who’ve seen it. 

Today the windmill is privately owned and you can’t go up there so we’ll continue around the corner on Rue Girardon.

Saint-Denis Statue

One block on, at 2B Impasse Girardon (map), you will find a small park, Square Suzanne Buisson, on the left of the Rue Girardon.

In the park, there’s a statue of the first Bishop of Paris, Saint-Denis.

Square Suzanne Buisson Saint-Denis Statue

Saint-Denis was beheaded here on the hill by the Romans in the 3rd Century.

According to legend his corpse picked up his head and walked 10km to the point where the Cathedral of Saint-Denis now stands in the suburbs of Paris.

Every French king is buried at Saint-Denis and it’s great for a visit if you get the time.

Historically, the name Montmartre, the Hill of the Martyrs, has been attributed to this event.

However, most historians today think the hill was already known as Montmars, the hill of Mars, by the pagans before the advent of Christianity.

Buste Dalida

Exit the park the same way you entered and continue down Rue Girardon.

At the corner, where it turns to the right onto Rue L’Abreuvoir (map), you will see a small bust of the famous Egyptian-Italian-French singer Dalida.

Buste Dalida

Dalida had an incredibly successful career but tragic love life.

Her first fiancé shot himself, her husband shot himself, her friend jumped to his death from a Paris apartment and her final lover gassed himself in his Renault car.

All this became too much and Dalida overdosed on barbiturates in 1987 leaving a note saying; life has become unsupportable for me. Can you blame her?!

Rue L’Abreuvoir

This charming street was immortalized by the painter Maurice Utrillo. Utrillo was one of the few painters born in Montmarte.

Rue L’Abreuvoir

Rue L’Abreuvoir

His mother Suzanne Valadon was the first woman admitted to the society of fine arts and learned her art from the countless painters she’d modeled for as a young woman.

Her former house is now the Montmarte Museum just ahead at number 12 Rue Cortot.

When Valadon fell pregnant she didn’t know who the father was. According to one Montmartre resident at the time; “she went to Renoir, but he looked at the baby and said, ‘can't be mine, the color is terrible’!

So she went to Degas, who said, 'He can't be mine, the form is awful!'

Valadon then saw an artist named Miguel Utrillo and told him her woes. He told her to call the baby Utrillo: 'I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!”

La Maison Rose

On the corner with the Rue des Saules (map), you’ll see the Maison Rose, or pink house, where Utrillo and many other painters used to hang out.

Upstairs was once a brothel where Van Gogh is reported to have contracted syphilis.

Today it’s been cleaned up and is a lovely spot for a bite to eat! Honestly!

Au Lapin Agile

Turn left down Rue des Saules with the vineyard on your left and stop on the corner by the Lapin Agile (map).

This little cabaret started life as a hang-out for low-lives and criminals.

Au Lapin Agile

After the owner’s son was killed in an attempted robbery, the place was known as the Cabaret des Assassins.

But, fortunes changed when Andre Gill painted a new sign with a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan. People started to refer to the place as Gill’s Rabbit and this later changed to the Agile Rabbit.

At the turn of the 20th Century the place was bought by Aristide Bruant to save it from closing and it became a favourite meeting place for struggling artists.

A young Picasso used to flirt with the waitresses and doodle their portraits on napkins in exchange for them letting him off the bill!

This is still a Cabaret today and well worth a visit for a more intimate and less bank-breaking French cabaret experience.

Le Jardin Sauvage

Turn right on Rue de Saint-Vicent and you’ll head past the old wild garden vineyards.

The wine they made here was Beaujolais, some of the first wines of the season and cheap wines for the people of Paris.

Unfortunately, the wine crops failed for several years in the late 19th Century and this is where the tradition of drinking absinthe came from.

Once the wine stocks returned, many poor artists preferred to stick to absinthe as it was cheaper.

In order to get their customers back, many vineyards began spreading the idea that Absinth made drinkers go mad, hallucinate and commit all sorts of terrible crimes.

They also tried to get its sale prohibited. The legend they invented of hallucinogenic trips with the ‘green fairy’ persists to this day.

Le Sacré-Coeur

Continue uphill along Rue de Saint-Vicent. You’ll cross the path with the stairs heading up and down the hill.

The view down the hill is beautiful but we’ll continue uphill on the more gradual incline.

As the road bends to the right you’ll suddenly catch a view of the back of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica (map).

Le Sacré-Coeur Rear

Le Sacré-Coeur Rear

The basilica was built to make up for what many saw as the moral corruption for which they blamed for the French defeat in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War

When Prussian troops took Paris in January 1871, the French Government and Army surrendered.

However, the working-class National Guard and the people of Paris refused to accept the surrender or the authority of the French Government and created an autonomous commune up here in Montmartre.

This was the first example of the working-class rule in the history of the world, but it only lasted a few months.

Barricade set up by Commune shown captured by French Army forces 

In May French troops attacked and destroyed the Commune in what became known as the Semaine Sanglante or bloody week

On both sides, terrible atrocities were committed and the Sacré-Coeur was seen as a way to atone for those sins.

Construction of the basilica began in 1875 but didn’t finish until during WWI, so it was only consecrated after the war in 1919.

Let’s head around the church to its right, at the front you’ll get the most spectacular view of Paris, prepare to have your breath taken.

View from Le Sacré-Coeur

View of Paris from Le Sacré-Coeur

Take all the time you need to drink in the incredible views of Paris. In the afternoons the steps will be packed with people listening to street musicians.

Once you’ve regained your breath, turn back to the basilica and you’ll see two statues of people on horseback.


Le Sacré-Coeur Front

The statue to the left is King Louis IX, the only king of France to be made a saint.

Louis brought in the right to a fair trial and banned medieval trials by torturous ordeals like walking over hot coals.

From his fights in the crusades, he brought back holy relics that you’ll find today in the Sainte-Chapelle in the centre of Paris.

The statue on the right is Joan of Arc. During France’s darkest hours when the English were conquering at will, Joan rallied the French armies and started their fightback.

She was captured and burned as a witch by the English ensuring her legend forever in history.

You can enter the Sacré Coeur free from 6 am – 10.30 pm. You have to pay to climb the dome and you’ll need strong legs to climb the 300+ steps!

Place du Tertre

Once you’ve checked out the church and got your breath back from the view turn right with the church at you back and head along Rue Azais.

Looking out towards Paris you’ll catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, then turn uphill to the right. As the street bends left you’ll enter the Place du Tertre (map).

Place du Tertre

Place du Tertre on a rather slow day.

Today, as in years gone by, the square will be full of painters selling their art. If you’d like your own portrait they’ll be more than happy to paint you.

On the northern side of the square, the Mere Cathrine restaurant was the first Bistro in the world.

Russian soldiers at the end of the Napoleonic wars demanded their drinks quickly- Bystro in Russian, and the idea of a bistro or rapid service restaurant was born!

Salvador Dalí Museum Paris

Once you’re done in Place du Tertre, leave on the downhill corner, diagonally opposite to the side you entered.

At the end of the small street steps go downhill, do not take those, turn right on Place du Calvaire and you’ll come to the Espace Dalí Montmartre (map).

Salvador Dalí is today the most famous surrealist artist in history, which is ironic as the surrealists kicked him out of their movement!

Surrealism was a reaction to all the craziness of wars and destruction in the world.

A group of writers, poets, and painters led by Louis Bréton began to question whether the comforting world of our dreams was actually the real world and our crazy world just a nightmare.

To connect with the dream world, they tried to write and paint without thinking consciously.

This automatic writing, as they called it, can be fun to try and to read back to yourself, but generally reading the nonsense of someone else’s head isn’t too engaging.

Dalí’s painting seemed intended to provoke and he was kicked out of the movement for thinking too much about his work and more than anything for making too much money from it!

People are still making money from his work today, entrance costs €13 and is a must for fans of surrealism.

Bateau Lavoir

Continue on Rue Poulbot and turn left at the end on Rue Norvins then left on Rue Jean-Baptist Clément and right on Rue Ravignan into Place Emile Goudeau (map).

This hidden little square is named after the leader of Les Hydropathes, who we met right at the start of our tour.

On the right, as you enter downhill, you’ll find the Bateau Lavoir which is steeped in art history. Only the façade remains for the original building after a fire in the 1970s.

But, at the turn of the 20th Century the creaky building would sway in the wind like the washing boats on the River Seine, hence its name- the washing boat.

The name was coined by Picasso’s life-long friend the writer Max Jacob.

The original Bateau Lavoir had many floors below going downhill towards the back, and when Picasso arrived in Paris in 1900 the place was packed with struggling artists.

Picasso had been painting in dark blue colors since his arrival in Paris when his best friend shot himself over unrequited love.

But living here Pablo met his first love, Fernande Olivier, and began painting in happy pink or rose colors, he then moved on to experiment with African masks and created the first-ever cubist painting here in 1907.


The impressionists had been moving away from 100% accurate depictions of their subjects.

But in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (see picture) Picasso took the art rule book, ripped it up, and threw it out of the window, representing five ladies with hard angular blocks of color.

Avignon is in the South of France but most people now think this painting is of five prostitutes from the Carrer d’Avinyó in Barcelona where Picasso grew up.

Picasso and his friends were poor struggling artists but always to be found out and about in Montmartre.

If you’re on the Picasso trail, check out the Picasso Museum in le Marais.

Murs de j’taime – The love wall

Leave the square downhill on Rue Ravignan and turn on Rue de Abbesses to Place des Abbesses.

On the upper side of Place de Abbesses you’ll find a small park with I love you written in over 250 languages.

The wall was created by the artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito and is a must for lovers and honeymooning couples.

If you come back this way Abbesses is the nearest Metro stop (map) to the top of the hill but its spiral staircase is hard work for all but the fittest of visitors.

If you’re looking for a place to eat, there are many great restaurants for all budgets around here.

A personal favourite of ours is l’Annexe on Rue des Trois Frees or for something fun and different, the Refuge de Fondues on the same street where the wine is served in baby’s bottles!

Refuge de Fondues

Refuge de Fondues

Take Rue Yvonne le Tac and Rue Tardieu across the hill (neither up nor down) and you’ll arrive at a park with fantastic views back up to the Sacré-Coeur.

This is where Amelie calls her lover on the payphone and tells him to follow the blue arrows.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our time in this most romantic of neighbourhoods.

If you’re done with Montmarte just head down Rue de Steinkerque to Place Anvers where you’ll find the Boulevard where we started and the Metro station Anvers to head off to your next Paris destination.

If you’d rather hang around longer and explore, just remember whichever way you go downhill on the Sacré-Coeur side of the hill, you’ll hit the big Boulevard where we started and where you’ll find a Metro station.

Related Posts:

If you're interested in a different kind of experience, there is a self-guided exploration game in Montmartre which tasks you with solving a mystery as you're discovering the area.


There are 4 main companies leading live-guided walking tours of the Montmartre District, including one pay-what-you-wish tour.

If you're looking for a different kind of experience, there is a self-guided exploration game in Montmartre which gives you the opportunity to solve a mystery while discovering the area.

We also offer our own, GPS-led audio tour, developed and narrated by a local tour guide, which you can take it anytime you wish.

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

Discovery Walks

Discovery Walks offer a 90-minute tour of Montmartre, visiting the areas from Moulin Rouge to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral.

The tour is name-your-own-price, leaving you free to decide its worth or what you could afford at the end. Group sizes can exceed 20 people, but reviews don't support this as an issue.

Montmartre Tour: Moulin Rouge to Sacre Coeur

  • Departs daily at 11:00 am, 14:30 (2.30 pm)
  • Pay-What-You-Like
  • Book this tour.

New Europe Tours

At €16 per person, this is a reasonably priced option for those looking to explore this artistic neighborhood.

Like with other tours, you will learn about the famous figures who frequented Montmartre throughout history before finishing at the Sacre Coeur Cathedral.

New Europe tends to be popular with backpackers, so expect a younger crowd and larger(ish) group sizes.

Montmartre District Tour 

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.

Take Walks

This company offers a variety of popular tours in Paris, including two outings that will take you through the neighborhood of Montmartre. 

Their main Montmartre tour is approximately 1 ½ hours in length and it covers several notable sites such as Moulin Rouge, the Wall of Love, Picasso's Studio, and many other historic locations.

Alternatively, you can also take their Paris in a Day tour and visit additional neighborhoods such as the Latin Quarter and notable attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum.

Montmartre: Paris' Picture Perfect Village

  • €15 per person
  • Duration: 1 ½ hours
  • Maximum of 20 guests.
  • Includes stops at several notable locations.

Paris in a Day

  • €165/Adults | €163/Students | €155/Children
  • Spring/Summer Availability: Wed - Mon at 9 am
  • Fall/Winter Availability: Mon, Wed, Sat at 9 am
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Maximum of 15 guests.
  • Includes admission to the Louvre.
  • Includes admission to the Eiffel Tower.
  • Includes Seine River cruise.

Fat Tire Tours

Though known around Europe for their fabulous bike tours, Fat Tire Bike Tours also lead walking tours!

Their Montmartre 2-hour walking tour is one of their most popular, as it visits all of the main attractions in this popular neighborhood.

This tour and Fat Tires as a company are both well-reviewed, averaging over 4 out of 5-stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews).

This is the most expensive option in this section, but they also have the smallest group sizes and tend to attract a more mature clientele.

Paris: Montmartre 2-Hour Walking Tour

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.


Montmartre Impressionist Art Walking Tour with Skip-the-Line Musee d'Orsay Ticket

This 1.5-hour tour is perfect for art lovers who are interested in learning the colorful histories of artists such as Van Gogh, Degas, and Monet.

With your purchase, you also receive a skip-the-line ticket to the Musee d'Orsay ticket, which is a great bonus considering the huge crowds that this museum usually attracts. 

This tour is very well reviewed on TripAdvisor and Viator (read the reviews).

  • Departs Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 10:30 am and 2 pm 
  • From €45 per person
  • Get more information or to book
  • NOTE: This tour isn't currently available as of Dec 2021.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.

Meeting the French Tours 

Meeting the French Tours are known for their specialty tours of Paris and offer 2 tours of the Montmartre District:

  • (1) Paris Movie Tour of Montmartre and
  • (2) Paris Romance Walking Tour of Montmartre.

As specialty tours, they are significantly more expensive than the traditional guided tours listed above.

However, for film aficionados and diehard romantics, these tours are totally worth it!

On the Paris Movie Tour of Montmartre, you will learn about filming rights in Paris and why Montmartre is such a popular place for filming, in addition to visiting several major filming locations for world-famous films.

Paris Movie Tour of Montmartre

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.

The Paris Romance Walking Tour of Montmartre visits Moulin de la Galette, the ‘I Love You Wall,’ Studio 28 and other famous love-struck sights, as well shares stories about Paris’ history and culture of love and romance. 

Paris Romance Walking Tour of Montmartre

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour.


Paris is often considered one of the greatest culinary cities in the world... and with good reason!

And as a bustling neighborhood with an important history, Montmartre is one of the best places to dine.

Meeting the French Tours 

This 3-hour culinary adventure will have you sampling homemade pies, cheese, charcuterie, and a glass of wine as your walk through the Montmartre District.

You will learn how these items are made, as well as how Parisien's shops traditionally prepare each dish every day.

Also, you will learn more about the culinary history of the neighborhood.

Food is included in the price of the tour. 

Montmartre Gourmet Tour

  • Departs daily at 2:30 pm 
  • From €95 per person

Culinary Tours of Paris 

Named after Ernest Hemingway's famous novel set in Paris, Montmartre Moveable Feast Tour is a culinary tour of one of Paris's most famous neighborhoods.

With Culinary Tours of Paris, you will visit 3 different restaurants, enjoying 1 course at each. In the first, you get to sample an appetizer or charcuterie and fromage.

After moving on to the second stop, you will be served the main course, before finally eating a dessert presented at the last stop.

Between restaurants, you are taken through the streets of Montmartre and told the history of the area.

The tour is approximately 3.5 hours and includes each meal with the cost of the ticket. 

Montmartre Moveable Feast Tour

  • Departs Wednesday-Sunday at 11:45 am 
  • € 110 per person

About The Author


Christina studied art history and French literature at the Sorbonne for a year in Paris as an undergrad. Now based in Washington, DC, she visits Paris as often as possible and loves introducing family and friends to her favorite places there. She has worked as a travel writer, museum professional, English tutor, and editor, and her favorite French cheese is Pont l'Eveque.
Updated: February 13th, 2023
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