Paris Montmartre narrow streets leading up to Sacre-CoeurIf you are planning a holiday in Paris aim to spend a day in Montmartre, this route will take you away from some of the tourist traps and show you aspects of this charming village. To enjoy Montmartre you need to relax, slow your pace and immerse yourself in the surroundings as it is the little back streets, open doorways or small shop windows which retain the charm.

Start your day as early as possible if you want to get ahead of the crowds. The best Metro station to exit at is Anvers, then, follow the steep climb up Rue de Steinkerque to the Gardens and Funiculaire which delivers you to the steps of Sacré-Coeur.

Paris Sacre-Coeur and MontmartreParis Holidays and Hotel Reviews
The spectacular white outline of Sacré-Coeur against a clear blue sky is one of the most photographed images in Paris and if you are fortunate to visit on such a day there are spectacular views of the city to enjoy as it slowly awakens.  Sacré-Coeur opens at 6am and on most days by 9am the crowds are arriving so visit here first.
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As you leave Sacré-Coeur turn up towards Place du Tetre and on your way maybe make a short visit to the church of St. Pierre de Montmartre which is all that remains of the Benedictine abbey which stood here from 1133 until it was destroyed in the French Revolution. The adjacent building often has free art exhibitions for you to enjoy.

Paris Montmartre Place du Tertre - artists paintingA morning coffee in one of the Cafés around Place du Tetre will allow you to soak up the bustling atmosphere and to watch the portrait artists hawking their work. Walk on to the museum Espace Montmartre Salvador Dali which has over 300 examples of sculptures and drawings of this Spanish Surrealist. From the nearby steps there are also further spectacular views of the city below.

For lunch take a short stroll to either Café Burq (6 rue Burq, closed Sunday and August, no disabled access) for a genuine bistro experience and youthful clientele or to continue the artistic trail wander down rue des Saules and enjoy lunch at La Maison Rose (2 rue de l’Abreuvoir) which is only a couple of doors away from the house where Renoir’s once lived.

Paris Montmartre VineyardsIt is hard to imagine it today but Montmartre was once a French wine region said to match the quality of Bordeaux and Burgundy but today only 1,000 bottles of wine are made annually from the Montmartre Vineyard just past la Maison Rose. The vineyard can be admired but is only open for a wine festival on the first Saturday in October when the bottles of wine are sold for charity.

Paris Cimetière de MontmartreRevived after lunch  you can head down hill to the Cimetière de Montmartre (you can miss this part out of your tour and head direct to rue Lepic), this graveyard lies beneath a  busy road in an old quarry, though it is more peaceful than it first appears once you get below the street. There are many illustrious tombs with ornate sculpted monuments all tightly packed together in an intimate space. The tombs represent the former artistic residents of Montmartre and you will find the last resting place of composers, poets and artists.

Paris Montmartre Moulin de la GaletteFrom the Cimetière take a slow walk up rue Lepic with its many shops and restaurants and past Moulin de la Galette, one of the only two remaining windmills from the 30 which were once used for pressing grapes and grinding flour. During the siege of Paris in 1814 the Russian soldiers crucified the owner on its sails. In the later 19th century it became a dance hall and inspired paintings by Renoir and Van Gogh, today it is a restaurant.
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Then you have time to visit Musée de Montmartre (12 rue Cortot, open 11am – 6pm, closed Mondays) set in the area’s finest townhouse known as Le Manoir de Rose de Rosimond after the 17th-century actor who once owned it. From 1875 it provided the living quarters and studios for many artists. You can now explore the history of Montmartre from its 12th-century convent days, through the Bohemian lifestyle of belle époque to the current day.

Paris Montmartre and the steps from Pigalle belowTo soak up the last remaining sun and warmth of the day return to the front of Sacré-Coeur and admire the city below as it transforms from sun to shadow and as evening arrives watch the iconic sights of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the rest of Paris come alive with a million sparkling lights.

Montmartre becomes quieter in the evening and there are many local restaurants to choose from to enjoy a relaxing meal and bottle of wine. For a more authentic experience find a restaurant down a little side street or head back down the hill from Montmartre to Il Piccolo Rifugio (13 rue Chappe) for one of the best Italian meals in Paris.

Paris Montmartre Moulin RougeBelow the hill of Montmartre is Pigalle, once the home of dance halls and cabarets but now taken over by the sleazy sex shows along boulevard de Clichy (not a street to take children along in the evening).  There remain good Cabaret and Clubs in Pigalle and as the evening gets later there is an air of excitement with live music, DJ’s and all-night clubbers, its definitely aimed at the younger ones, just be careful.

After a day in Montmartre you will need to relax so a comfortable hotel is essential, for suggestions on the best places to stay in Paris read the amoreTravel guide to Paris hotels.

Best hotels in Paris for a city break

Note:

Monmartre is hilly and tiring so those less mobile will be unable to follow this whole route, alternatively, to take some of the toil catch the little white train from Place Blanche up to Place du Tetre and spend your time at the top of the hill soaking in the atmosphere and fantastic views, but unfortunately Sacré-Coeur has no disabled access. The Funiculaire is accessible and you can then return going down hill. 

Paris Montmartre little trainThe little white train runs from from 10am to 6pm everyday and until midnight in July and August. The trains are accessible and run at 30 minute intervals in summer (45 minutes in winter) but only have a 55 seat capacity so you can have to wait for a seat. There is an audio commentary in English. You can hop on or off  the train at Place du Tertre or Place Blanche. The train winds its way up the narrow streets of Montmartre passing:

Place Blanche – Le Moulin Rouge – Cimetière de Montmartre – Basilica of Sacré-Coeur – Church of  Saint-Pierre – Place du Tertre – Espace Salvador Dali – Musée Montmartre –  Montmartre Vineyards – Le Lapin Agile – Cimetière Saint-Vincent – The Saint-Pierre Market – Pigalle – Place Blanche