The capital of France has various faces, and each of its twenty districts is different. The sixth is Sorbonne whose streets are overrun with students. The seventh is a district of ministries and there is usually not much going on there. The famous Montmartre is located in the eighteenth district.
The top of Montmartre has the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. You can get there it in two ways: by cable car or by traversing Square Louise Michel to reach the top of the hill after climbing 222 steps. Although one of the most beautiful views of the city extends from the square next to the basilica, Montmartre has much more to offer.
This hill dominating over the 18th district is full of winding narrow streets. Rustic houses are lost among typical Parisian tenement houses, with cafés and local artists around. When visiting this part of the city, it is easy to forget that you are still in one of the noisiest metropolises in Europe.
This place has always resisted the influence of Paris, and since the 19th century began to magnetize artists who are happy to come here up to this day. Montmartre was home and workplace to, among others, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse or Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj.
Montmartre impresses and attracts for two reasons. On the one hand, it has Boulevard de Clichy on its border, full of shops for adults and cabarets. The sensual atmosphere at the foot of this hill makes an impression on every visitor.
On the other, Montmartre is also famous for its green, charming squares, trees growing along the streets and even its own vineyard! When strolling along the streets, you can see small two-story buildings and houses that are associated with idyllic life far away from the big city.
Over a cup of coffee
The “La mère Catherine” restaurant, operating since 1793, is the first bistro in France. This place was particularly liked by Cossacks, who occupied Montmartre in 1814. To encourage them to visit their restaurant, the owner hung a door sign saying “Bistro”, which means “quickly.” It is said that the most romantic cafés can be found in France, especially Montmartre. During the morning coffee, you can indulge yourself in the favourite pastime of Parisians, i.e. watching passers-by.
Note: you can recognize a real Parisian café by the fact that there is an ashtray on every table. One of the most famous establishments is “Café Deux Moulins”, where the film character Amelia worked. Another eagerly visited restaurant is “Le Consulat”, which attracted Picasso, Sisley, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec Monet and many other artists in the 19th century.
Be sure to try fresh, crunchy croissants in one of the best Parisian bakeries – “Le Grenier à Pain”. Traditional Crêpe – French pancakes with sugar are also a delicacy. Croque-monsieur, i.e. toast with cheese and ham baked under Béchamel sauce, will be an ideal quick snack. During a romantic dinner, you must try the famous French duck, which can be found on the menu under the name Confit de canard.
When in Paris, you also have to dare yourself and try snails. In Montmartre, the perfect place to taste this delicacy will be “Bullion Pigalle” located next to Place Pigalle, which refers to the traditions of Parisian broths, i.e. restaurants quickly serving simple and traditional French dishes. It is open daily from noon to midnight, and does not accept reservations.
The rich history of this place is conducive to interesting museums for which it is worth temporarily leaving the main tourist trail. Located in the old studio of many artists, Le Musée de Montmartre houses exhibition dedicated to artists working on the hill.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Émile Bernard and Suzanne Valadon had their studios here. The Renoir’s Gardens offer a unique view of the hill and its vineyards. In turn, Dalí Paris is the only museum in France dedicated to the art of Salvador Dali, where you will also see works from his private collection.
A night out
“Le Bar à Bulles” is a bar located in the same building as the Moulin Rouge, where you can order a glass of excellent French wine or a cocktail. From there, you can also get to the roof of the Moulin Rouge and stand under the famous Red Windmill. Be sure to go to an evening show in the kingdom of cancan. Another excellent establishment is Terrass-Hotel with one of the best Paris rooftops.
The terrace, which is open all year, offers a panoramic view of the city. Moreover, it is worth going to the bar or restaurant there. The 18th district should definitively be visited during the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre – a festival organized on a hilltop vineyard. Every year in October, Montmartre is swarmed by lovers of French gastronomy, wine and art.