When you are spending time in Paris its sometimes easy to just visit the major attractions, first timers should definitely see our guide to a weekend in Paris, but there are endless things to do in Paris and its sometimes better to find some of the more off the beaten track attractions, try this guide for things to do in Montmartre for your next visit.
Montmartre is a large hill in the 18th arrondissement of Paris and gives its name to the surrounding area, one of the most picturesque areas of a city full of picturesque areas. North of the River Seine, walkable from the city centre if you fancy it. I would get the metro though.
Formally home to some great painters of old including Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas and Matisse the area still retains its love of art in the form of street artists and art museums. You can also find great food and shopping in the streets of Montmartre.
Things to do in Montmartre
Abbesses Metro Station (a)
The closest station to the centre of Montmartre is also the deepest Metro station in Paris at 36 metres below ground. Enjoy the walk down the steps to see some nice wall mosaics. The entrance to the station is in Place des Abbesses and the ideal spot to take a snap of the “butterfly” glass covered entrance, one of the only two remaining in Paris, designed by Hector Guimard.
Le Mur des Je t’aime (b)
A walk in to the garden on Square Jehan Rictus you will also find the “I Love You Wall” 40 square metres of messages of love in 250 languages. The ideal message presented in the city of love, the work of Fédéric Baron and Claire Kito. Spend some time here and try and identify as many of the languages you can – Inuit and Esperanto are included so some of them are a little obscure!
Halle Saint-Pierre (c)
Situated at the south entrance to Square Louise-Michel you will find the museum, come library, come café that is Halle Saint-Pierre. The museum is made up primarily of art brut (“Raw art”) pieces that have in the main been discovered after the artists passing. The café inside has a simple menu and is reasonably priced. One of the best things about Montmartre is the fact the museums generally are not as busy as the likes of the Louvre and Orsay that I would suggest visiting on your first visit to Paris. The museum also holds a permanent exhibition of art by Max Fourny.
Square Louise-Michel (d)
Time for a relax in the beautiful Square Louise-Michel. Sitting just below the Sacre Coeur is this steep gardened area with gently sloping paths or 222 steps leading to the summit (I know which I prefer!). The spectacular views of Paris are worth sitting and absorbing before taking on the walk to the top, although it may be worth getting the funicular which can be found on the western edge of the Square Louis Michel and costs one metro ticket.
Sacre Coeur (e)
Sitting at the highest point in the city the Sacred Heart Basilica, one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. The church is free to enter as its still an active church, so be aware that it is a place of worship and people may be there for very non-tourist reasons. You can also enter the crypt, which is worth a visit, or climb to the top of the dome – which costs 5 euros – for even more breath-taking views of Montmartre and the whole of Paris. Whilst touring the Basilica make sure you appreciate the apse mosaic, “Christ in Glory” is a 475 square metre mosaic representing the risen Christ.
Place du Tertre (f)
A picturesque square that was once the town centre before Montmartre was swallowed by Paris. Surrounded by restaurants and cafes. A great place to grab a coffee and people watch the bustling tourists around the stands as they wait for their caricature or portrait to be done by one of the many artists.
Dali Paris (g)
Just outside the Place du Tertre is Dali Paris, a 300+ piece collection of the works of Salvador Dali. A reason to climb the hills of Montmartre if you needed one. Features a number of his earlier and lesser known works.
Clos Montmartre Vines (h)
One of Paris’s last remaining vineyard was created by, and still owned by, the city of Paris to retain green spaces in Montmartre. Although not usually open to the public you can observe the vines from outside the fence. The vineyard produces approximately 1500 bottles a year and they are auctioned off with the proceeds donated to charity.
The Lapin Agile (i)
A favourite haunt of Pablo Picasso and the featured in his 1905 painting “Au Lapin Agile”, now a cabaret that steps back into history as an authentic show without a can-can in sight. Certainly not the scantily clad dancers and expensive champagne that can be found amongst the things to do in Pigalle’s Moulin Rouge. If more traditional French songs and less bright lights and loud noises is what you are after then the “agile rabbit cabaret” may be the place for you to end the day.
Other attractions you may want to consider on your walk around Montmartre are La Maison Rosa and the Cemetery of Montmartre but its always worth trying to find a tour or guided walk.
Chris is a Number cruncher by work day, seeker of new experiences by weekend – always looking to spend 48 hours somewhere! Seen 4 continents, 26 countries and 100’s of city’s hoping to add a few more each year.