Montmartre in Winter: Small Village Life Within The Big City - Paris, France
Ah, Montmartre, whether you are checking it out because the guidebooks tell you to, because of the movie "Amélie", because you are into art history, or because of a certain movie starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, you are in for a treat if you visit this part of the city properly.
We recently spent a few nights in Paris on our way down to Provence and chose this part of the city as our home base. It may not be a very attractive place to stay for first-time visitors to Paris due to being further away from the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, but for repeat visitors, we highly recommend spending more time here in the 18th arrondissement.
Montmartre used to be a small farming village outside of Paris until it was swallowed by the city in 1860 and became Paris' 18th arrondissement. It mainly consists of a steep hill crowned by the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, which stands proudly at the top like a large dollop of whipped cream (or meringue, since this is France).
Known mainly for its role in the Belle Epoque in the late 19th century and its cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir, it has been the home of artists such as Renoir, Utrillo, Picasso, and more. These days it is still home to plenty of cabarets in its red-light district of Pigalle, and plenty of tourists march up and down the steps (or ride the funicular) leading up to Sacré Cœur and hang around Place du Tertre where modern artists and caricaturists work on and peddle their crafts.
Key Things to See in Montmartre:
- Sacré Coeur and Square Louise Michel in front of it
- Place du Tertre
- Musee de Montmartre and gardens
- Church of St. Pierre - one of the oldest in Paris!
- Clos Montmartre vineyard
But the real beauty of Montmartre is just wandering through the small back streets.
Bonus - not in Montmartre, but only a few metro stops away is the Edith Piaf Museum in the famous singer's former apartment. This is a very little known attraction in Paris, but it is an important one. Unfortunately, you need an appointment to visit, however, it is free!
To Eat in Montmartre:
- For all-day brunch, there is the Hardware Societé which is located behind Sacré Coeur on Rue Lemarck.
- If you are a fan of Amélie, head to Cafe des Deux Moulins on Rue Lepic for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack since they are open all day.
- For one of the best baguettes in Paris, head to the other side of Sacré Coeur to Boulangerie Raphaëlle on the corner of Rue Feutrier and Rue André del Sarte
Where To Stay in Montmartre
We opted to stay in an Airbnb apartment right next to Sacré Coeur, which had great views. You can find quite a few on Airbnb. (See our previous article on the Pros and Cons of Airbnb!)
There are however several hotels in the area if you would like to go that route. Search booking.com below to find the best one for you!
It is important to note that the area adjacent to Montmartre, especially near the Chateau Rouge and Barbes-Rochechouart metro stations is not the best place to be at night, especially alone. The Pigalle area could also get a little dicey due to being the red-light district, but you should be fine if you have a buddy since it is still a heavily touristed area. Keep in mind while visiting the area that the best metro stations to use would be Abesses (Line 12) and Anvers (Line 2).
Even though the weather was kind of horrendous while we were there, we still enjoyed this part of Paris more than any other. It just has a different feeling to it, especially if you explore the lesser travelled back streets.
Have you visited Montmartre? Where is your favourite spot in Paris? Let us know in the comments!
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