Situated to the North of the city on the highest hill in Paris, Montmartre is known as the bohemian hub of Paris with its quirky bars and cafes, splattering of vintage shops and independent galleries. Did you know that Picasso, Dali and Monet all have roots back to the area?
As well as having undeniable links back to the art world, it is also renowned for the undercurrent of ‘questionable’ entertainment of the 19th and 20th century. It has been known as a popular drinking area since the local nuns brewed their own wine and from then it spiralled into an area of shameless decadence, with the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir taking centre stage, pardon the pun, in the cabaret world.
Montmartre is an area full of history and is one of the most breath-taking areas in Paris offering you unparalleled views over the city. To make sure you see Montmartre in all its glory, follow our advice:
The Petit Train de Montmartre is a sweet, old fashioned mini train ride through the cobbled streets of Montmartre. Put your feet up and enjoy the hour long tour of the area and let the train take you the windy neighbourhood, passed the Moulin Rouge and stopping off at the Sacre Coeur. It’s a great way to see the sights without the hassle – so perfect if you’ve got bad knees as there are a lot of steep steps up the 130m hill to the summit of Montmartre. Learn about the interesting history with a French or English guide – or even some romantic music.
The Moulin Rouge is right at the bottom of Montmartre and is as iconic to Paris as a baguette and beret. Even if it’s to get a photo outside the big red windmill, the Moulin Rouge is an important feature in the history of Paris and symbolises the decadence of the early 20th century, the fin de siècle and its Belle Epoque. It was also, interestingly, the birthplace of the can-can dance, which in turn inspired cabarets all across Europe. From its gorgeous dancers and flowing champagne, the Moulin Rouge was an instant hit and continues to stage shows to this day.
For another form of entertainment, this time in the static form, the famous Grevin Wax Museum. Rivalling the likes of London’s Madame Toussauds, you can discover over 300 realistic wax figures of the world’s most famous faces. Ever wanted to get a photo with Elton John or Michael Jackson, or even Brad Pitt or George Clooney? Well now’s the time! These fabricated figurines were handcrafted by some of the most talented sculptors and you can discover their process from start to finish. Begin your tour through the amazing hall of mirrors, built in 1900, a unique sound and light show and walk up the impressive marble stair case. The baroque architecture is very ‘Paris’ and it’s a great place for a fun few hours for the family.
For something a little more edifying and for a true sense of being in Paris the Sacre Cour is a must-see when you’re in the area. This huge landmark is symbolic for both the rebellious ways of the neighbourhood and for the conservation of the catholic beliefs of the city. Designed by Paul Abadie in 1875, it wasn’t finished until 1914. The basilica is made of travertine stone, quarried from Chateau Landon, which exudes calcite – meaning the Sacre Coeur stays white all year round, despite the weather and pollution. From the top of the summit, where this Roman Catholic basilica proudly sits, you can enjoy a panorama all across Paris. If the weather’s good, take a picnic and sit in the tiered gardens below for a lunch with a view!
With the Paris Pass you can discover Paris for less and the stress out of your trip. This complete sightseeing package includes a travelcard, Museum Pass and Attractions Pass – not to mention a handy detailed guidebook, too!
July 24, 2019 by Suz Pathmanathan
July 17, 2019 by Paris Pass blogger
July 5, 2019 by Suz Pathmanathan