Montmartre is an area of Paris, situated upon a hill top in the city’s 18th arrondissement. It is rich in history, well known as the former home of artists such as Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso across the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With its dreamy city views and charming cobblestone streets the area of Montmartre is a must-do for any Paris visitor. It’s also where the film Amelie (2001) was made!
To get to the top of the hill we elected to walk up. There are metro lines available that can take you to the foot of the hill but I feel like part of the fun was getting lost on the way up. One moment I could see the Sacre-Coeur clearly and the next, I got a little lost for 10 minutes.
The walk up to the Sacre-Coeur could not be complete without a stop at one of the many patisseries along the way, for snacks of course. Unlike many other parts of Paris, the walk up the hill is dotted with small streets nestled under the hill crest, lined with an endless array of little stores selling breads, and cheese, fresh fruits, and wine. I’d recommend grabbing a few items here to take with you if you plan on a picnic because every store we passed had the freshest ingredients and wonderful customer service.
The steps up to the top of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica are quite deceiving and yes, there may be a few persons trying to make you buy their bracelets. Just be polite and say no thank you, unless you really want one I guess. I had also been warned about pickpockets in this area. I didn’t see anything occur when I was there but, as is the case in all cities, just be vigilant and aware of your belongings and surroundings.
The view from the top of the stairs is breathtaking and worth the walk. We had decent weather when we first arrived so were able to have decent visibility over the city. After a few minutes of gawking we went inside the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. It is free to enter the Basilica and quite marvellous to see. The Sacre-Coeur, consecrated in 1919, is a beautiful white structure and belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. It is quite dark inside and free movement among the space is allowed, though as it is a working church low talking is required. You can pay extra to go to the top of the Sacre-Coeur though I found the view of the city from the front of the Basilica to be quite enough.
After wandering inside the Basilica we walked around the back to the Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet, a city park. Granted in winter there aren’t many leaves or flowers, but the view of the back of the Sacre-Coeur is quite stunning from here.
The next stop after a bit more wandering was the Rue du Mont Cenis stairway, a brightly painted stairway that leads you back up the hill to the Place du Tertre. The Place du Tertre is a square where local artists paint on the daily and you can buy their work. When I ventured here it wasn’t too crowded but I can’t speak for how it might be in summer. I had been previously told this area was a tourist trap but I honestly had a great time here and we had a few good conversations with the locals.
On the way back down the hill we stopped quickly at the ‘I Love You Wall’ as well as for more pastries (a true necessity). The ‘I Love You Wall’ is a multilingual mural that sits in a little park on the way down the hill. There’s always a bit of a line up for photos but it never takes too long.
Montmartre is a great day out with a lot of things to see and do. Though walking shoes are definitely needed owing to the cobblestones and hills, the walks aren’t greatly strenuous if you are pausing to see each site and take photos, not to mention all the food stalls dotted around in case you need a sugar hit! It’s a beautiful area to wander through that has managed to retain a little bit of the old village feel and is slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the city, making for a beautiful day out.