If you ask around, many Parisians will probably say that Montmartre is not what it used to be – and that’s probably true. It was probably already true 30 years ago and yet, the village around the hilltop of Montmartre is one of the most beautiful and iconic areas in Paris. It should not be missing on any Paris itinerary and the more time you have to explore this micro arrondissement, the more you’ll discover a Montmartre that has few to do with souvenirs and selfie sticks. Yes, the Belle Èpoche is lost beyond recall, but Montmartre did not loose it’s flair of libertine and poetry.
Back in the days Montmartre was the linchpin of the french art and artist scene. If you’d assume that every big name lived on one point in their life in Montmartre, you’re about right. The most famous residents where probably Picasso, Monet and van Gogh but they are just the top of the iceberg – Montmartre was a hotspot of inspiration and home to many. While one could think that source of inspiration was the beautiful view.. well, the absence of wine tax clearly must have helped. At times, Montmartre laid outside of Paris and wasn’t subject of Parisian tax regulations (thanks for this anecdote!).
Today, the cheap apartments are mostly gone and the image of the starving artist would probably be literally a starving artist (and the wine is taxed, sorry). Montmartre is a hip quarter, with coffee breweries, great restaurants and bars, and independent fashion labels. But it’s also still the area of Galleries, artists and of course Museums. The narrow alleys and streets up to the hilltop of Montmartre are as cobbled stoned as they’ve always have been, the houses are cute and iconic and the view over Paris is still breathtaking.
In a nutshell: Montmartre is the perfect place to fill up your Paris batteries and one of the best locations to stay in Paris.
● Most popular things to do in Montmartre
The density of museums is quite high in Montmartre and a must for everyone who is interested in art and/or in the history of Montmartre.
- Musée de Montmartre and the Bateau-Lavoir
- Musée de la vie Romantique
- Musée d’art Naif Max Fourny
- Espace Dalí – a museum dedicated to the famous surrealist that exhibits the largest DalÍ collection of France – click here for more info
Tip: The best way to explore Montmartre is by feet and if you’re eager to know more about this wonderful district, consider taking a walking tour with a local guide. Check here for all offers, prices and schedules
Place du Tertre
This place near the summit and just next to the Sacre Coeur is quite likely the square you have in mind when thinking about painters at Montmartre. If you want to get portrait or not – it’s fun to watch them!
Basilica de Sacre Coeur
The Sacre Coeur on the hilltop of Montmartre is one of the most famous landmarks of Paris. A selfie is basically obligatory! Actually 2 – one on front of the basilica and one in front of the entity of Paris. It’s a bit work to climb up there but the view… oh the view. It’s worth all the struggle and you also can skip the last steps and take the funiculaire de Montmartre. As the funicular is part of the public transport system, you can use a regular metro ticket for access.
The famous Cabaret belongs to Montmartre like the artists or the Sacre Coeur. If you’re planning to attend a show, book your tickets well in advance – it sells out quick!
The cimetière de Montmartre is the third largest graveyard in Paris and the last resting place for – amongst others- Alexandre Dumas, Foucault and Emile Zola. Alternatively -or additionally- you can also visit the Saint-Vincent Cemetery on the rear side of Montmartre. or the Cimetière du Calvaire just west from Sacre Coeur.
Le Mur des Je t’aime
The “I love you wall” is basically what the name suggests: A wall filled with “I love you” – 311 times to be exact and in 250 languages. Well, it’s maybe not the most spectacular monument you can find in Paris, but there’s never anything wrong with love and neither with celebrating it.
Le Clos Montmartre – A vineyard in Paris
At the rear side of Montmartre lays the Clos de Montmartre – one of the around 10 vineyards in Paris. The vineyard produces approximately 500l of wine each year and all money raised is spend on social projects within the area.
If you are around in early autumn, don’t miss the annual grape harvest fest, La fête des Vendange. it’s an amazing festival located in Montmartre with solely one purpose: eat and drink! You can read more about La Fête des Vendanges 2017 hereour recommendation
● Montmartre off the beaten track – insider tips
Even though Montmartre is not an off beat location, it still has some secrets. They are not even hidden, but you probably would just walk by without even noticing.
- Les Deux Moulins – the café from the movie “Amélie Ppulain” (check out the Amélie walking tour and discover Paris in the footsteps of Amélie)
- Lapin Agile Cabaret
- Carré Roland Dorgelès – from where you see two of the most photographed sites of Montmartre: the Lapin Agile and the Clos de Montmartre
- Le Passe-Muraille
- the 2 last windmills of Montmartre, Moulin Radet and Moulin de la Galette:
- the theater “Cine 13″
- La Maison de Dalida unfortunately not open for public, but nice to see from the outside as well
- Interios – Ceramique Gallery with very instagramable outside
- Le cave de Gaston Leroux – a theme bar around the “Phantom of the Opera”
- Commanderie du Clos-Montmartre
- Elysees Montmartre Theatre – a very nice concert venue!
- La Maison Rose this restaurant is probably one of the most iconic buildings of Montmartre
- St-Pierre de Montmarte
Related read: Secret Paris – 75 hidden gems!
● Where to stay in Montmartre
Without being biased, the Montmartre neighbourhood is a great location to stay when spending your vacation in Paris. There are plenty of things to do and see, and there is surely some hype, but after all, Montmartre is just a lovely neighbourhood. If you chose Montmartre as your base you can sneak a peek behind the tourist destination and discover the real neighbourhood. Where it’s inhabitants buy their Baguette at the local boulangerie, do their groceries at the merchants of Rue Lepic, where you can have a glass of wine for Apéro and enjoy the evening sun on a terrace. Montmartre is more than Sacre Coeur and La Maison Rose.. it’s an attitude, it’s enjoying life – savoir vivre!
Are you wondering what to pack for Paris? Don’t miss our packing guide for Paris and Europe!
One of the nicest and best Hotels in Montmartre is the Maison Lepic Montmartre.
The location of the hotel is awesome. The Maison Lepic is centrally located within Montmartre, but in a lesser frequented back-road. Every sight of Montmartre is reachable by feet and so are public transportation. Metro line 12,13 and 2 are just a few minutes away and grants you quick access to everything interesting in Paris. As an extra; a room in the Maison Lepic Montmartre includes a nice breakfast. Check here for more information, prices and availabilities
My tip: by chance (really, it wasn’t on my agenda to include this restaurant) just in front of the Maison Lepic is my favourite Italien restaurant in Paris: La Rughetta (click for more info and to book online). The Pizza is really good 🙂
● Best Restaurants in Montmartre
Traditional French Restaurants
● Best Bars and Cafés in Montmartre
Montmarte is a lively neighbourhood with a quite some nostalgia and classic flair. But despite all old school charm, it’s also a very hip area and so it’s not surprising, that more and more excellent coffee shops are settling down around the hills of Montmartre.
Soul kitchen: coffee house with a daily changing menue, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free friendly
KB Cafe: Coffee shop and brewery with changing filter of the day. The KB Café serves also food and comes with a large outdoor seating area
Lomi: more than a coffee house – it’s a coffee school! For real, you can take master classes at Lomi’s
The nighlife in and around Montmartre is pretty extensive – no matter if you like to spend your evening in a cozy neighbourhood bar, an irish pub or if you’re up for some dancing, you can be sure to find it in Montmartre. As a general guideline: if you’re up for dim and cozy stay on the hill, for Party move down to Pigalle. Check here for ideas and recommendations to find the best bars in Montmartre.
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