In my teens, I dreamt of living in Paris, in an area I used to “J’adore”, Montmartre aka The Mountain of Martyrs. I blame it on a few old-age theories: a) that I lived a previous life from the Belle Epoque era; b) that I am the real deal Amelie; c) my Francophilia has stemmed from la vie boheme; or d) I’m in love with the idea of living in a city within a city. Montmartre feels like it has its own veins compared to the rest of Paris.
As an adult, the dream of living in La Ville-Lumière may have faded but Montmartre is still a place close to my heart. I wouldn’t want to live there now, no. It’s not particularly glamorous, with its red light district tendencies, nightclub culture and – let’s be honest – dodgy rep.
However in daylight, Montmartre still has a certain je na sais quoi like no other. It’s still quite beautiful and is a surefire favourite settings of films and videos alike.
So if you’re in Paris, I think you should walk up the steep streets of Montmartre. People watching and just inhaling the change of vibe is worth it.
There’s a ton of cafes and restaurants that offer decent food and interesting vibes. La Table D’Eugene is a must for opulent dining in Montmartre; Le Chamarré offers French with a Mediterranean twist; La Famille has some of the best cocktails in Paris, and if you fancied good Italian food, try Babalou. If you, like me, are a huge fan of Amelie, go have a quick aperitif or an espresso at Cafe des Deux Moulins. And people-watch like crazy 🙂
Place du Tertré is a fascinating place to people-watch and have a wander. Essentially the artists’ square, this is definitely the spot where you get pretty portraits and artwork as souvenirs. Van Gogh, Picasso, Pissaro and Modigliany have all worked here back in the day. It was Montmartre’s living Pinterest board for art.
It was also the birthplace of the word “bistro”, believe it or not. Apparently back in the day, Russian soldiers would shout “bystro!” to waiters which meant “quick” in Russian.
The Sacre Coeur
Of course, Montmartre is ever so famous for The Basilica Sacre Coeur.
It’s a gorgeous church inspired by Roman-Byzantine architecture. And the church itself spans a socio-political history representing the rebellious neighbourhood, as well as an embodiment of conservative moral order.
It’s beautiful inside and I urge you to go and really inhale your surroundings. I unfortunately wasn’t able to take so many photos, as there was service when I went.
So I went up the towers to get an awesome panoramic view of Paris. And I swear, it was well worth the claustrophobic steps.
It’s stunning and for some strange reason I felt a nostalgic type of peace just looking at Paris from up there. The tower itself isn’t massive so you best time your visit when it’s not too busy so you won’t fight for space with tourists. But it’s something you GOTTA do.
There’s nothing like enjoying some good ol’ Spring/Summer sun than having a little sit-along with the crowds in beautiful settings. Which is what I recommend you do at Square Louise-Michel, just outside the basilica.
There’s a lot of buskers playing about so there’s plenty of entertainment. But watch out for pickpockets!
Here’s a jumpshot for luck 😉
Montmartre may have a not so ideal rep, but as mentioned, a lot of Parisian history stems from this neighbourhood. Visit during the day for a better view and a nicer atmosphere. And make sure you see Paris from its highest peak! Half a day here is good enough to have a walkabout, but if you have more time, go visit
If you have more time, here’s a list of what you can do:
- Check out the secret vineyards in Paris, Clos Montmartre!
- Watch a show at the modern place of can-can, aka The Moulin Rouge. Tickets start from 190€ and can go up to 400€ if you include dinner.
- Visit the Museum du Montmartre and check out the Renoir Gardens.
- Visit the Musee de la Vie Romantique. Because Paris is after all, the City of Lovers.
- Check out the quirky boutique shops.