When a place is overrun by tourists, there must be a good reason for it. Among all the other neighborhood in Paris, Montmartre remains as charming as ever since the first time I visited it. The area has kept the atmosphere of a French village remarkably intact with winding narrow streets, tiny terraces, long stairways, authentic cafes and pilgrimage-worthy basilica, The Sacre Coeur. Simply stroll around this beautiful place and you’ll instantly fall in love with its vibes. So, let me help you fall in love with Montmartre through Montmartre walking guide!
Montmartre has captivated Bohemian artists since the Belle Epoque and continues to delight everyone especially filmmakers all over the world, who have immortalised this quintessential Parisian view in the film reels with glowing romanticism since decades ago. If you haven’t watched Amélie or Midnight in Paris, I highly recommend you to watch both. Both movie were set around this area.
Montmartre is full of tourists, indeed. They all flock around Basilica Sacre Coeur staircase to admire the stunning view over the roofs of Paris, sit down at Le Consulat, or wander around du Tertre; where artists set up their easels tempting the visitors to get their portraits sketched with charcoal or waterpaints.
Despite the mass, there are still a few tranquil yet picturesque streets away from the hustle and bustle. Today I’ll guide you to the these corners of Montmartre, with less crowd and even more charm:
Start your way from the metro Abbesses (line 12) and stop for awhile to admire the stunning metro entrance. Designed by Hector Guimard (1867-1942) in Art Nouveau style, this entrance is decorated with glass roof with green wrought-iron arches and amber lights.
On the South side of entrance is the Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, built in 1904 by Anatole de Baudot, a notable student of Viollet-le-Duc and Henri Labrouste (my most favorite French architect, but more on that on the next journals). On the north side you’ll find the Wall of I Love You / Le mur des je t’aime.
Keep walking on Rue des Abbesses til the road takes you to Rue Lepic. The road will get very hilly. Have I told you earlier to forget the high heels? Don’t worry, it’s a very picturesque walk. If you feel this area is familiar looking, you’ve seen it from many scenes of Amélie. French writer Céline and painter Van Gogh have resided in this street. I highly recommend you to make a croissant stop at Gontran Cherrier (22 Rue Caulaincourt) before continuing your journey. Everything they serve here is delicious.
When you spot Le Moulin de la Galette restaurant, take the left turn and you’ll end up in Place Dalida. In 1997, this corner of rue de l’Abreuvoir and rue Girardon was named after Dalida (1933-1987), a glamorous French singer who committed suicide at the peak of her career. Keep walking on Rue de l’Abreuvoir and you’ll find the ivy-lined La Maison Rose restaurant. Built on the first half of the 19th century, this pink house was featured by many famous painters.
You know you’re pretty close to the tourist hangout when you see more people walking around you. Follow them. They will take you to the road that slants to the right and you’ll end up in the cobblestone streets that look exactly like most of the Parisian postcards, especially on Rue Norvins, rue des Saules and rue Saint-Rustique crossroads. The famous Le Consulat restaurant is almost always busy at any time of the day, and so are the cafes and creperies around it. If you’re really tired from the walk, you can sit in a café but be warned that the prices are higher and you will most likely be surrounded by tour groups. If you have had enough of the crowd and souvenirs stores; which are basically filling every corner, continue your way.
You’ll pass Place du Tertre and you can either have your portrait drawn by the artist or just opt to walk around the square with your camera to snap their portraits. I usually do the latter. This space is an open-air art gallery that portrays best the creative spirit of Montmartre.
You’ll end your journey with the view of the majestic Sacre Coeur Basilica in front of you and the similarly breathtaking Parisian panoramic view behind you. This would call for many photos, so I’m going to leave you here to have fun with the camera. À bientôt!17