A Walk in Montmartre

Travel Blog By J
October 2011

View of Sacre Coeur from our hotel room 
When traveling on your own, it is always best to have a good balance of location + price.  Hotels in the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower and Louvre area are, to be expected, very expensive.  A good alternative is to stay in Montmartre.  It is a little further out of the center but still accessible by the Parisian subway. The area itself is lively, reminiscent of its glorious past being once the principal artistic center of Paris.  Our hotel, Avenir Hotel Montmartre, is located seconds away from the Anvers metro station, which is just a few stops from Charles de Gaulle Etoile (the stop  you need to get to Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe).

Montmartre is situated on a hill so expect a lot of uphill walking.  We did a self-guided walking tour of the area and these are the places of interest:

Montmartre's most famous attraction is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart or Sacre Coeur.  You can't miss this big-domed white Catholic church  perched on top of a hill.  Its position is fantastic, offering visitors  a panoramic view of the city.  We had the option of taking the 225 steps uphill or ride the funicular to get to the Basilica (costs 1.70 Euros per way).  We decided that we're young and healthy enough to go up  the hard way (felt like a pilgrimage)!  Some benches are placed on every landing so one can rest and look out to the city below.

Sacre Coeur

city view from Sacre Coeur

At the top of the steps are musicians and living statues (there are a lot all over Europe!), entertaining passersby.

Caesar in Paris!

Facing Sacre Coeur, take the road immediately to its left and it will lead you to this square surrounded by little shops and sidewalk cafes.  This place is Place du Terte. Many artists set up their easels here and can make portraits for willing tourists in 10-15 minutes.  A portrait would set you back around 60 Euros.  The artworks displayed are varied, most of them are painted scenes of Paris.  I didn't buy anything but was just glad to soak in the vibe of this place.

Place du Tertre 

Have yourself drawn by a French artist!

More walking led us to the apartment where a notable artist once lived.  Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo once occupied the third floor of the apartment at  #54 Rue Lepic.  In Paris, he painted portraits, scenes in Montmartre and views of Le Moulin de la Galette (which we also visited but was unfortunately closed that day).

54 Rue Lepic, where Vincent Van Gogh
lived between 1886-1888

Another crowd-drawer here is the Moulin Rouge.  This cabaret, made more famous by the Nicole Kidman starrer of the same name, is the birthplace of the can-can dance.  Shows are performed nightly with tickets starting from 90 Euros. It's hard to miss this red building with a windmill on top Moulin Rouge, by the way, means "Red Mill."

The Moulin Rouge

We took our time strolling along the quiet cobbled pathways, stopping in one of the many shops and macaron stores, and just admiring the picturesque streets and buildings that make up in this district.  We saw a lot of tourists, guide books and maps in hand, who seemed to be making their own walking tour as well.

Montmartre is a definite must-visit while in Paris.  Explore this district when you've done all of the big must-sees.

Perfect for leisurely walks.

Take a break and go into one of the specialty macaron shops.
These ones are by Christophe Roussel.

* All photos are Skycab's own.