Recently we stayed in the vibrant and bustling area of Montmartre in Paris, we had a wonderful time and Trudy took a lot of great photos so I thought it was worth doing a quick rundown of our Montmartre adventures in the form of a mini visual travel guide.
Montmartre is essentially a hill, it’s famous for the beautiful white domed basilica of Sacré Cœur and the nightlife options in the surrounding area (including, of course, The Moulin Rouge). There are many facets to the Parisian jewel of Montmartre; the seedy walk through sex shops and strip clubs near Pigalle clashes with the gorgeous residential streets and cafes to be found as you stroll further up the hill.
There is a distinct “tourist” area located near the Sacré Cœur, that whilst fun to see, is best avoided if you’re after an authentic parisian cafe or bakery experience. Only a short walk in the right direction will reveal areas blooming with atmosphere and life that provide a haunt for both locals and tourists alike who are all wanting to feel the magic that is Paris.
When we stayed there, we had an apartment right in Montmartre (and close to everything, including the ‘tourist street’). From our balcony we had views of the Eiffel Tower in one direction and the Sacré Cœur in the other – it was stunning (you can read a review about it here).
For younger people I think Montmartre is an excellent spot to stay and wander, this is the area where ‘Amelie’ was filmed after all, for so many this “is” what Paris is supposed to look like. Sort of odd and funky yet oozing with an inner class that is difficult to replicate anywhere else.
We passed small cafes serving strong black espressos, sticks of fresh baguettes popping out of white labelled paper bags and colourful delicatessen grocers lined with punnets of bright red strawberries.
At one point whilst strolling around we passed a model shoot on the steps of a small alleyway, just another day in Montmartre I guess. I’m not sure why I don’t see model shoots in alleyways back in Brisbane, maybe we relegate them to junkies and homeless people instead of high fashion.
And here’s my poor attempt…I call it ‘Magnum On The Steps’, although it is almost a little Blue Steel.
Montmartre is just one of a dozen fantastic neighborhoods to see when visiting Paris, but I always find myself stopping in whenever I’m in the city – and you should too!
It’s extraordinarily easy to get to Montmartre on the convenient Paris Metro (I love their metro system!).
Hop onto either Line 2 (blue) or Line 12 (green) and get off at any of the following stations:
Anvers, Pigalle and Blanche for Line 2, or Pigalle Abbesses, Lamarck – Caulaincourt and Jules Joffrin on Line 12. You can walk around and discover Montmartre from any of these Metro stops.
Montmartre is a vibrant neighborhood of Paris, you’ll have a lot of fun simply exploring the area. It’s certainly a little ‘grittier’ in parts and throws off a different vibe compared to say the luxurious main thoroughfare, Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Here are a few specific things you can get up to:
The white domed basilica of Paris is world famous, and rightly so, even without being religious I can safely say it’s an awesome building. The walk up the garden surrounded steps is also extremely pleasant (except for the friendship bracelet scam you will encounter at the entrance – but they’re easy enough to ignore).
Once you get to the top of the ‘butte’ there is a great view out over Paris, although if you’re after snaps of the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance you will be disappointed as it’s looking the wrong way. Still, it’s nice to see all the buildings clustered together appearing quite smugly Parisian.
Although I’m sure many would consider this a ‘tourist trap’, you can’t really ignore the pinnacle piece of history that is beholden to this building. I’ll openly admit I haven’t been, as tickets are way out of our backpacking budgets since they are about €150 – €200 each for dinner and a show.
It would be remiss of me however if I didn’t point out that Montmartre (located at the intersection near Blanche) is where to find it. It is something I would like to experience at some point, but I’m still young so I’m sure I’ll get around to it one day
Known as the ‘cemetery of the artists’, The Montmartre Cemetery is worth a visit. Housing the tombs of people such as Edgar Degas (sculptor) and Alexander Dumas (Count of Montre Cristo and The Three Musketeers) and many more, it’s a peacefully serene place to meander. Bring your walking shoes and your camera, but remember it’s still an active cemetery so don’t show up with a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket.
The whole of Paris is worth exploring really, but give yourself a half day at least to wander around hilly Montmartre. You’ll see flashes of ‘Amelie’ as you meander the streets, and if it’s a nice day outside the cafes will be buzzing with people on terraces sipping cool drinks in the sun and snacking on delectable french fare.
There are elegants street lamps on long delicate steps. Walk along Rue des Abbesses and then head upwards towards the area surrounding the Lamarck – Caulaincourt Metro and beyond. There are some beautiful residential streets sprinkled with funky cafes and cinemas, small secluded gardens can be found and some of the street posts are painted in a variety of bright colours.
Of course I haven’t eaten out in Montmartre a lot, nor have I tried all of the restaurants in that area, still I do feel that I can give a decent personal recommendation for two restaurants in Montmartre particularly. We’ve eaten at both, and each time they served up fantastically delicious fare.
I outline the first restaurant we ate at in my 10 things to do in Paris roundup. The second best restaurant in Montmartre is La vache et le cuisinier!
Owned by the same people, the staff here are pleasant and happy to chat in both French and English. We just walked in but it looked as if a lot of tables were already booked and had reservations (it was a Saturday night). A group of French locals also came in and sat next to us to eat, so we figured that was a good omen for things to come.
Where: In the heart of Montmartre, 18 rue des Trois Frères 75018 Paris.
How Much: If you want a main, a dessert and a half bottle of wine – expect to pay around €40
We shared a massive rib cooked medium rare with a bottle of Bordeaux superior and a side of baked chips and vegetables in delicious sauces. It was an excellent meal, and we really enjoyed it as we rarely treat ourselves to such dinner luxury. I took a blurry picture on my phone, but it doesn’t really do the meal justice.
I do highly recommend this restaurant and it’s easy to get to and within walking distance of Abbesses Metro.
If you’re tossing up whether to check out Paris, stop thinking about it and book Paris flights for yourself right now (or a train if you’re around Europe).