Meandering through Montmartre.│ Montmartre, in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, is one of the most well-known districts in this beautiful French city. It is also one of the easily recognizable. Even from across the city, on the top of the Arc de Triomphe, one can see this 130 meter high hill. At the summit, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica rising high above the Paris rooftops. Montmartre is famous not only for its remarkable church, but also for its bohemian past. The district was once home to artists such as Salvadar Dalí, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is perfectly picturesque! If you search out the quieter streets you will immediately feel the inherent charm that this Paris neighborhood radiates. It is therefore no surprise that it draws millions of visitors every year.
We started our exploration of this area at the Moulin Rouge on Boulevard de Clichy, and then slowly meandered up the hill. We had no definite goals, except that we would end up at the top at the hill, at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. This historic district, established by the City of Paris in 1995, is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north; rue de Clignancourt on the east; boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart to the south.
Here are some highlights from our walk through Montmartre…
Here’s a great idea for those not that keen on walking:
Take a picturesque mini train ride through the alluring streets of Montmartre and look over the romantic views and sights of this vibrant neighborhood. You can hop off at Sacre Coeur for some views over the city and to explore this famous church. Stretch your legs at the Moulin Rouge, on the way down. That being said, we HIGHLY recommend walking through this area. But if that’s not your idea of fun, then grab a ride on this train!
The Petit Train de Montmatre leaves every 30 minutes in the summer, and every 45 in the winter, with guided commentary in Frech or English. The train runs later (10.00 – 21.00) in June, July and August. It departs from Place Blanche (opposite the Moulin Rouge) or at the top of the hill, Place de Tetre. More information here.
Above left, The Moulin de la Galette is a windmill and corresponding businesses situated near the top of the district of Montmartre in Paris. Since the 17th century the windmill has been known for more than just its milling capabilities. Nineteenth-century owners and millers, the Debray family, made a brown bread, galette, which became popular and thus the name of the windmill and its businesses.
Artists, such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro have immortalized Le Moulin de la Galette; likely the most notable was Renoir’s festive painting, Bal du moulin de la Galette.
La Butte Montmartre
What is now referred to as la Butte Montmartre was once a small village. The small “square” which you see above, lined with ancient buildings and small cafés, is the oldest part of this village. We often noticed the off angles of buildings and streets in Paris. Here that was especially evident, and is due to the fact that some of these buildings are centuries old.
Above (middle of image), La Bonne Franquette . This is a restaurant where famous artists including Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Monet, Zola et Vincent Van Gogh gathered over a meal and good wine in the last century. This place is over 400 years old and still going strong. It stands at the intersection of Des Saules Street, of Norvins Street, and of Saint Rustique Street.
Above (on the right in the image), Le Consulat is a another very old café and bar on the Rue Norvins.
These charming small cafés quickly become packed in the late morning and late afternoons, and are wonderful places from which to savour local life and colours.
After a few quiet moments in Saint Pierre de Montmartre, we made our way over to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The crowds were absolutely crazy! Since we had the stroller, and the we wanted to avoid the frustrations, we split up! Mommy went off to take some pictures. Eli and daddy used this time to enjoy some time around the exterior of this famous church. Sacra-Coeur, and the park below it, offer views to the Seine and beyond.
Rue Steinkerque. This busy little street has a certain gritty charm, with a mixture of cheap clothing stores, discount fabric merchants, and souvenir shops. It was a little too crowded for our liking on this particular day, so we didn’t stay too long!
*Even though the image below is at the end of this post, it was actually our starting point for this walking tour of Montmartre. We placed it here because, technically, it is not a part of Montmartre. Moulin Rouge, however, lies so close to the hill it’s often associated with it.*
Just three blocks away from the Café des 2 Moulins you’ll find the first stop on our little tour. The famous Moulin Rouge on Boulevard de Clichy. We stopped here to take a couple of pictures of this famous windmill. This is the place where cancan dancing was invented.