If you have visited Paris once you know that you can’t avoid returning. Its location in Europe is excellent so you can access it, almost from anywhere. On this occasion, we toured Montmartre, one of the most bohemian and interesting neighborhoods in Paris. we also visited the Eiffel Tower at night.
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How to get to Montmartre
The easiest way to get to Montmartre is by metro. Montmartre is a very large quarter so I’d recommend arriving by some of the stations near the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. You can explore on foot starting from here and it will be easier for you to situate yourself.
The stations through which you can reach the Sacre Coeur are:
To get to the station you have to take line 12 of the metro. Outside of the station, walk down the street Rue La Vieuville and go up the stairs every time you find some (there are many, prepare to suffer 😛 ). If you prefer, look for the funicular that takes you up to the Sacre Coeur.
Also on line 12 of the metro. This is going to leave you by the back of the Basilica. When you leave the station walk towards the street Caulaincourt then continue down Rue Saint Vincent. You will soon come across the Basilica, or with the unmistakable horde of tourists, a sign that you are close.
The Anvers-Sacre Coeur line (full name) is a very convenient line to access the basilica. It belongs to line 2 of the subway. It leaves you right at the feet so you’ll find the way easily
In a city as big as Paris you’ll have to use the subway at least once. If you’re not used to traveling by metro, the Paris metro can seem intimidating at first. But after a couple of times, you’ll feel more comfortable.
On this link, you can download the map of the subway to take with you and begin to familiarise yourself with it.
You can also visit this site where there are other options such as bus and tourist trains for your visit to Montmartre.
A little history of Montmartre
Montmartre is (or was) a village. From the 12th century until the revolution of 1789, life was organized around the Abbey of Saint-Denis. After the revolution, the Abbey was destroyed and the village began to urbanize. But even up to the 19th century there were wooden mills on top of the hill, as well as farms and vineyards.
There was a wall that separated Montmartre from Paris. When entering the capital people had to pay a toll at the customs gate. The wine was cheaper outside of Paris which helped to get that festive atmosphere. Cafes, bistros and dance halls flourished at the foot of the hill and began a tradition of working-class festivals
La Belle Epoque
Montmartre was annexed by Paris in 1860 and in 1889 the Moulin Rouge opened its doors. The Moulin Rouge brought a new era where stylish Parisians invaded the working-class cabarets. Toulouse-Lautrec was among them and would later immortalize La Belle-Époque and the “shameless” French cancan.
Although music is a part of life on the hill, it was the painters who created the modern myth of Montmartre. From the beginning of the 19th century, great artists have been attracted to Montmartre for its charm and low rents. Among the artists who lived here are Delacroix, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh.
There are several studios scattered around the hill, but one of the most famous was the Bateau-Lavoir. It contained 10 artists’ studios where the conditions were more than rudimentary. There are also several cafés once frequented by artists like Le Lapin Agile, Café Bouscarat (La Boheme), Le Chat Noir, etc.
If you haven’t read about my first trip to Paris, check it out here: A fleeting romance: 3 days in Paris + my first impression
What to see in Montmartre
Currently, the festive tradition of Montmartre is still alive. There are several cabarets that still survive that you can visit or see from outside. It’s the favorite quarter for the artists who work in its studios and for those who gather in the Place du Tertre.
These are some of the most visited and emblematic places of this peculiar quarter:
Basilique du Sacre Coeur
As I told you before, this is the starting point to tour the Montmartre. The Basilique du Sacre Coeur is located at the top of the hill. They built it between 1876 and 1912 to honor the victims of the war against the Prussian kingdom of 1871.
The visit to the interior is free and from the top, you can have access to an incredible view of the city of Paris. Be careful because scammers usually exist in this area. Here you can read more about Travel scams, my experience in Europe
Place du Tertre
This square would hardly go unnoticed because it’s full of artists who offer their works in different techniques. It is a heritage of Montmartre of the 19th century. You can choose to make a portrait in cartoon, charcoals or pastels. I was about to make a portrait in pastels for 35 euros, but I don’t know… I was not convinced. The initial price was 50 euros, so I guess it’s possible to haggle if you’re interested.
You can also buy Paris scenes in acrylics, oils or watercolors. Besides, there’re several cafes and restaurants around from where you can enjoy the hubbub of this bohemian square. By the way, around the square, there are many streets with shops to buy your souvenirs.
Museum of Montmartre
This museum. located in a 17th-century house on the Rue Cortot was inaugurated in 1960. It displays a collection of paintings, photos, posters and illustrations signed by 19th and 20th-century artists. Also, we can get into that atmosphere of art and cabarets that give their peculiar vibes to this quarter. The price is € 9.50 for adults. On the official site, you can check the schedules and other rates.
Espace Dalí Museum
This museum contains the most important collection of Salvador Dalí in France. If you like the works of this artist you will enjoy this museum. They exhibit some engravings and sculptures such as the Space Elephant and Alice in Wonderland, as well as many other works by Dalí.
The museum is set to make the visitors have a surreal experience. The price is €12.00, a bit expensive, but the truth is that I didn’t have time to visit it so I can not tell you if it’s worth it. I would probably visit it if I come back to Montmartre again. In the official site, you can learn more about the museum and book your tickets.
The Moulin Rouge
The Spanish Josep Oller built The Moulin Rouge in 1889. During the Belle-Epoque many of the impressionists of the time frequented this place. His fame is linked to the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who was the creator of the first cabaret poster.
The performances include dancing, magic, singing, and shows of erotic content. Many famous singers such as Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf, and Liza Minelli have performed at the Moulin Rouge. It’more or less 1.2 km from the Sacre Coeur. The area where it’s located is the red quarter of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy.
On the site of the Moulin Rouge, you can see the available shows and make your reservations.
Emblematic restaurants of Montmartre
If you are not on a short budget, you can go to eat or have a drink in one of the most emblematic restaurants of Montmartre. To me, neither my budget nor my time allowed me to consume there, so I had to content to see them from the outside 😀
Restaurant Le Consulat. This café has been open for decades and was frequented by several artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso. It has also been immortalized in various works of art
La Maison Rose. A famous café that attracts the attention for its coquettish pink color. Picasso was one of the frequent costumers. It’s one of the most photographed businesses in Montmartre
Le Moulin de la Galette. The mill dates back to the time when there were farms and vineyards in Montmartre. The restaurant opened originally as a dance hall. It has been portrayed by several painters such as Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and Van Gogh.
Last walk around Paris: The Eiffel Tower at night
This time I only stayed in Paris for one night. Among many things that I had to do, like booking my train to Brussels we couldn’t see much. What I really wanted to see and missed on my first trip was the illumination of the Eiffel Tower. That’s why after Montmartre, we went to Champs de Mars.
Champ de Mars gets very animated at night, as there are many families with children, some musicians, and snack stands. The Eiffel Tower “glitters” every hour, and the first time I watched it was a magical experience.
The next day I had to leave Paris, but not before taking a walk on the Seine river banks. I also went to Notre Dame Cathedral to give it a last glimpse. I hope to be able to return soon to Paris because without a doubt its attractions seem to be endless
Now tell me about yourself. Have you visited Montmartre? What are your favorite places in Paris? Or what would you like to see if you haven’t visited it? I would love to read your opinions in the comments section.
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