I spent some time living in Montmartre. Right in the very middle of it all. And by my count, there are 18 really cool things to find here.
Now, many of you guys will already have visited Montmartre and you might even have your favourite haunts.
With this in mind, I’ve added the really famous sights at the beginning to get them out of the way. So here goes.
1. The Moulin Rouge
The iconic red windmill is a popular tourist destination – and most visitors only look at it from the outside. What goes on inside? Funny you should ask, here’s a podcast episode with one of the showgirls.
2. The Sacre Coeur Cathedral
This magnificent building has been written about so many times that there’s nothing left to say. It’s famous for a reason, go find it.
3. Place du Terte
Here’s one of the most charming little squares in the quarter, filled to the brim with artists plying their trade in the public eye. Get your caricature sketched, buy some Paris art, or just watch those nimble paintbrushes at work.
4. The I Love You Wall
I don’t know, the I Love You Wall doesn’t have anything to bring you back a second time, but it’s certainly worth a look once. They’ve written the words “I Love You” in just about every language under the sun. Beware of getting your eye poked out with someone else’s selfie stick though!
5. Rue des Abbesses
This street is the best in the neighbourhood, at least according to me. More cafe and bar terraces than you could count, local shops, butchers, bakers, and probably candle stick makers. It’s the best village vibe that you might find in the whole city, too. Walk one end to the other and you’ll find all sorts of treasures. Here’s what it looked like under the first snow of winter, 2019. Join the 10,000 people who watched on Facebook, or the 367 who watched on YouTube below (please subscribe to my YouTube).
For more of Rue des Abbesses, below is a stroll with repeat guest and Mayor of Montmartre, Eric Lejoindre.
6. The Amelie Cafe
If you’ve not seen Amelie then you’re missing out. It’s basically a love letter to Montmartre. In fact, you should stop reading this list and go and watch the film first. Anyway, the cafe where the story is mostly set is called Le Cafe des Deux Moulins and you’ll find it on rue Lepic. That’s recent guest Beckett from History Chicks podcast and me sitting outside.
7. The Amelie fruit and vegetable shop
I stumbled upon this the other day. If you’re looking to continue the Amelie tour, find the fruit shop from the film up on rue Androuet. There’s a bunch of movie paraphernalia on the walls and it’s a great spot to stop for an apple too, before you start climbing all those stairs to the top.
8. Arty street near fruit shop
While you’re at the Amelie fruit shop, continue north along rue Androuet for another very village-like vibe, with the walls covered in very tasteful street art that appears to be regularly changing. Head left at the top and follow the flamingoes on the wall to our next stop…
9. Picasso’s old workshop
Head to Le Bateau Lavoir – which is nowadays just an ordinary building – but you can close your eyes and transport yourself back 100 years to when Picasso used it as his workshop. If you’ve got no imagination, face away from the building and enjoy an unparalleled view of the city. There’s a little cafe there too which looks like a good spot for a drink. Disclaimer: I’ve never had a drink there, but will one day! PS: Picasso’s home was just around the corner on rue Gabrielle.
10. Montmartre cemetery
Oh mama, this place is a must-see. Many, many locals have never stepped foot inside this cemetery and that’s a grave mistake, if you’ll excuse the outrageous pun. Besides the fact that you’ll find intriguing gravestones (Dalida, Zola, Nijinsky), there’s also a sizeable population of stray cats that have become a much loved feature of the cemetery. Take a quick peek inside here with me and Beckett from The History Chicks.
11. Dalida statue
I mentioned Dalida above and you may have thought “Never heard of him”. Well if that’s the case, brace yourself for a surprise because a) it’s a she, and b) she was an absolute icon of the music scene across the world (just not so much in English-speaking countries). She was essentially France’s answer to Madonna. And she’s one of the very, very, very few women who’ve been honoured with a statue in Paris.
Anyway, check her grave at the cemetery, then rub her breast if you can find her statue at the bottom of rue l’Abreuvoir. Don’t worry, everyone rubs it, it’s supposed to be lucky.
12. Hidden restaurant
There’s a really cool restaurant hidden away in the back of a wine shop on rue des Abbesses. Just walk in like you own the place and head to the back. It’s a small restaurant/bar and it’s never going to win Michelin stars, but it’s like a little local secret and it’s good fun, even if it’s very cramped. It’s called La Cave des Abbesses, at number 43.
13. Van Gogh’s old house
At 54 rue Lepic you’ll see a big blue door, behind which is a block of apartments where Van Gogh spent time crashing at his brother’s pad. To be honest, it’s nothing amazing to see in terms of a tourist destination, it’s more one of those cool “moments in history” kind of places. Also, it appears the artist painted the view from this apartment.
14. The vineyard
Did you know there’s a vineyard in Montmartre?! Find it on the back side of the hill (the northern side) behind the Sacre Coeur. Search the map for Vigne de Montmartre on Rue des Saules and you’ll be right there.
15. The only place to buy the wine
If you like the idea of buying Montmartre-made wine, head down to the local tourist bureau at 7 rue Drevet, which sells the bottles for 40 euros each. A bit expensive if you ask me, and I’ve never tasted it, but it would make a nice souvenir from your time in Paris.
16. An awesome chocolate shop
Rue Steinkerque is full of cloned tourist shops and hustlers on the street (DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY). But it’s also home to a really cool chocolate shop that has incredible chocolate models of things like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. They’re HUGE, incredibly intricate, and they’re made with all the leftover chocolate. While you can’t buy the models, the stuff on sale is pretty good too.
17. The hidden hotel
I shouldn’t really share this. It won’t be a secret anymore. But I just have to. There’s a hotel particulier that you can only access by ringing a door code on a gate on either side. You’d never stumble upon it, you have to know. Ring the bell, they’ll answer, then tell them you’re coming for a meal, or a drink, or a brunch… They’ll buzz you in and you’ll find yourself in this oasis of greenery leading into the hotel, which is often rather empty (at least the restaurant). I went for a Sunday brunch – which was a little pricey at 40 euros (ish) per person, but I thought it was absolutely worth it. It’s literally called Hotel Particulier and you can visit their site here. A very memorable experience indeed. Just don’t tell all your friends, please.
18. The mysterious meteorite
Ok, let’s end on a weird one. Out the front of the hidden hotel I mentioned above, you’ll find an enormous stone that looks ridiculously out of space. It’s about as big as a small car and no one really knows what it is. People suggest it’s anything from a meteorite to a sorcerer’s stone. The jury is still out on this one, but it’s nice to think a little bit of space has ended up in Montmartre, because Montmartre is truly out of this world anyway.
Well, that’s it. I’ll update and re-share this list as I get to know Montmartre even better. But if you’re thinking of coming to Paris and want a private guide to all this stuff and more – get in touch and I’ll show you Paris like you’ve never seen it.
Thanks for reading.
That’s it! If you like these tips, be sure to check out The Earful Tower’s Guide to Paris.