With its cobbled streets, stunning Basilica, artists, bistros … Montmartre is full of charm! Perched on the top of a small hill in the 18th arrondissement, the most famous Parisian district has lost none of its village atmosphere that appealed so much to the artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. A real melting pot of art and inspiration for the cinema, Montmartre still gives as much pleasure to those who stroll around it and figures high on the list for a stay in Paris.
With your sweetheart or friends, enjoy museum visits and the wonderful view of the city from the top of Sacré-Cœur, then set off in the steps of Amelie of Montmartre.
THE SACRÉ-CŒUR: MONTMARTRE’S MASTERPIECE
You can see this entirely white landmark from all parts of Paris. The Sacré-Cœur basilica is a masterpiece of grace and grandeur. Built at the end of the 19th century in the Romano-Byzantine style, it is dedicated to the heart of Christ and is an important place of worship in the capital. It houses the largest mosaic in France, measuring no less than 480 m².
For an unobstructed view over Paris, nothing beats the view from the forecourt of the building or, even better, that from the top of its majestic dome.
If you’re looking for a little green haven, Montmartre will amaze you with its many gardens and vineyard! Planted in 1930 on the north side of the famous Butte, the vines perpetuate the memory of a rural neighbourhood in the heart of the capital. The Clos Montmartre wine can be sampled each autumn during the wine harvest festival – a convivial occasion to share with friends or a loved one. It is also the scene of an amusing ceremony, the ‘non-marriage proposal’, an unusual way to profess one’s love.
Some two centuries ago, the Butte Montmartre looked quite different from today with its dozen or so windmills standing on the hill. You can still see two of them today, the Moulin Radet and the Moulin de la Galette, which add a touch of romance to the district.
Another famous landmark windmill in the district is the Moulin Rouge! This windmill has absolutely no agricultural function and is, in fact, the temple of the French cancan, and a leading not-to-miss venue for Parisian shows.
MONTMARTRE, AN ARTY DISTRICT
Like Picasso, Modigliani, Miro and before them Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Géricault, Renoir and Van Gogh, painters have for a long time made Montmartre their home, met up in cafes and busied themselves in the many artists’ studios on the Butte.
To delve into this art world of the past, visit the Musée Montmartre where you can wander around the former artists’ studios and a garden flanking the hill. And if you are a fan of surrealism, head to Dalí Paris, at 11 rue Poulbot. The museum pays tribute to this unclassified artist and his art. You’ll be amazed.
Today, Montmartre is still abuzz with art with eclectic galleries and the Halle Saint-Pierre, where art brut is superbly represented. And if you want to have your portrait drawn or painted, go to Place du Tertre just behind Sacré-Cœur, where dozens of professional drawers and cartoonists will be delighted to spend a moment with you!
ROMANTIC TERRACES AND GOURMET COOKING
After a day of walking up and down the steep streets of the Butte, nothing beats a pause on the terrace of a bistro or in one of the many restaurants in the area.
For a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, go to the Café des Deux Moulins, the famous cafe of Amélie Poulain or Au Rendez-Vous des Amis. For a taste of typical French cooking, go to Au Cadet de Gascogne, ideally located on the Place du Tertre, La bonne franquette, in Rue des Saules, or the Artisan de la Truffe Montmartre. And on the heights, you’ll find Chamarré, a gourmet restaurant whose tree-filled terrace is spread alongside a long flight of steps.
And finally, for a panoramic view, the rooftop of the Terrass Hotel is the perfect spot! Located at 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre, it serves bistro cooking and affords a breathtaking view of Paris.
DISCOVER MONTMARTRE IN AN ORIGINAL WAY
The little train of Montmartre is a well-known sight in the district and gently winds its way up the hill. It loops around Place Blanche, embarking visitors on a 40-minute tour with commentary to discover the major local sights. An original and novel tour that is a must do!
Fancy a romantic and unusual outing? Hop into a mythical 2CV for a night tour of the capital, and discover its finest monuments: the Arc de Triomphe, the Garnier Opera House, and Notre-Dame plus of course, Montmartre to finish!
And to be sure of seeing all the sights, call on an expert! The Montmartre Tourist Office offers advice and activities for getting to know all about the district. And there are also many guided tours available to explore the Butte. To stroll along the streets of the most Bohemian district of Paris with a local, two guided tours are available in French, English, Spanish, German, Italian or Portuguese, depending on the day.
Article and Photos Courtesy of Paris Tourist Office