Montmartre is the beating heart of the bohemian soul, full of beauty, art and Parisian life it is hard not to fall in love with Montmarte. So many famous people have made Montmartre their base such as Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Josephine Baker and so many more wonderful souls. No wonder I have a passion for Montmartre, I just want to spend my days there strolling up and down La Butte and around the cobble streets, eating in one of the many cafes and creating art.
Lets start our visit by getting off the Metro at Abbesses. It is a traditional Metro that you admire in all the movies topped off with an Art Nouveau entry way, which opens up to a wonderful area in Montmartre full of art and character. It is at the base of La Butte which is the hill Montmartre is situated on, leading you into the world that is this arrondissement.
Wall of Love
I love you! Such an incredible and power sentence to say. I feel there needs to be a little bit more of love in the world these days. The Wall of Love is the perfect place to ponder at and reaffirm love can be all around us. The wall is covered in I Love You in 250 languages from French, Italian, Japanese and even sign language. It is the perfect place to start off your love affair with Montmartre.
Church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre
The Church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmatre is a new discovery that I am pleased to have found. What an unusual church it is but that is Montmatre for you, always a little bit unique. The Church has the aura that was designed by steampunks, with what seems riveted metal arches, a high ceiling weaved with layers, a Victorian revival of Medieval art, right through to its unique stained glass windows that have depictions of death riding a horse and a snake with an apple, many things I had never seen before in a church. It is a rare discovery for those who like to visit beautiful churches in Paris.
The Basilica of Sacre Coeur was build of the highest point in Paris between 1870 to 1914. It offers striking views of the city below enabling you to witness all of Paris beauty. Even the view looking up at Sacre Coeur from the base of Place Saint Pierre with the greenery of the park makes the Basilica seem like an Oasis.
The Basilica is glorious with many domes and towers guarding it sanctity. As you enter the Basilica you will become overwhelmed with its beauty, it has a sense of modernism and tradition making it a place where I can see the artist of Montmartre enjoying its serenity. The interior has incredible stained glass windows that are similar to Dada and Art Nouveau making it ahead of its time.
Make sure you look out for my favourite rose window with its beating heart on fire with Christ's Crown surrounding it. But the jewel of the Basilica is the Altars dome ceiling that is bejewelled in the most wonderful mosaic motif of Jesus Christ empowering the world with rays of gold light, included in this depiction are Saints from all periods of French history that have made there impact in the world. It truly is a unique and breathtaking church to visit, that is the beating heart of Montmartre.
Place du Tertre
As you weave your way out of La Sacre Coeur you will begin to find lively shops, cafe with waiters shouting the plat du jour and artist wishing to paint your portrait. The hub of this world is the Place du Tertre which is skirted with old restaurants and artist selling wonderful pieces of Parisian Artworks. This is where you will find the best portrait painters who have set up camp to create art, if you want a fantastic portrait of yourself this is the place to find one.
Around the corner near the Rue du Calvaire at the top of staircase you will discover some of the best street art in Paris including the many faces of Gregos. I enjoy this square and the streets around it as it is alive with Montmatre life and my Mother’s stories she has shared with me of the life she had here and creperies she once ate at.
Down the hill on the other side of La Butte is Montmartre’s very own vineyard. It takes you back to what life was like in Montmartre as the village commune it was. The vineyard with all it’sl greenery looking up at the Sacre Coeur creates many bottles of wine that all sales go toward local community projects which I like the fact your drinking needs helps others. The Vineyard is opened annual to the public for the post harvest festival ‘Fetes des Jardins’ where you will be able to partake in a group tour. But in the mean time you get to enjoy this lush vineyard as the seasons changes so does this colour palette.
The Streets of Montmartre
The streets of Montmartre are something incredible to stroll about in. From is winding laneways, its cobbled stone paths, the stairways that go up to the gods and the little oasis of greenery and art. Whenever I am in Montmartre my favourite thing to do is just to walk the streets enjoying the life they live here, speaking to the locals, seeing the many windmills, discovering new street art, as well as shops and cafes, just living a little village life in the heart of Paris. You can see why Montmartre is used in cinema as it is forever changing and offering new secrets to discover.
Cafe Culture in Montmartre is spectacular, there are new cafes popping up all the time or the old cafes revamping to create even more beauty at its front door. These cafes offer some of the best meals in Paris, allowing the flavours to taste like local village produce. One of the best streets for Cafe Culture is Rue Lepic and Rue Abbesses at the bottom of the hill, as there is such a selection from Vegan Cafes, to Patisseries, Fishmongers and Greengrocers and one of my favourite restaurants the Cafe des 2 Moulin.
The Moulin Rouge, that big Red Windmill that is iconic in Montmartre. Home to the most spectacular Cabarets since the late 19th Century and the birth place to the Can Can Dance that was such a tease for the audience with their many colourful frills underneath their skirts and what else? Many artist used to spend their evenings in the Moulin Rouge soaking up the atmosphere which has been immortalised by the bright posters of Toulouse Lautrec. When you discover his artworks you will begin to see the influence for the film Moulin Rouge with many characters painted like Jane Avril who was the inspiration for Satine.
The Moulin Rouge today still offers a wonderful spectacular with its show Feerie full of acts, diamonds, feathers and dances. It is a great night to be had when visiting Montmartre.
Cimetière de Montmartre
The Cimetiere de Montmartre may be an odd thought for you to add to your list of things to see in Montmartre but it is just as beautiful as the rest of the village. It is an artistic homage to the loved ones that have parted with large Angels watching over the tombs, incredible sculptures of all sorts and a quiet part of the world surrounded in beautiful gardens. You will find the likes of Dalida, Edgar Degas and Vaslav Nijinsky resting there.
When heading to Montmartre ensure you where comfortable shoes for walking as the streets are cobbled and there are many hill paths to walk up and down.
Take a good canvas bag to stock up on all the sweets, cakes and local produce you want to buy as this is a cheap but delicious place to shop for your picnics. Just take your time enjoying the walk around Montmartre and soaking in the atmosphere.
I hope you will fall in love with Montmartre as much as I do, there is something there for everyone to discover. I am constantly discovering new places and secrets that the village in Paris has. Either it is life as a Bohemian or following the footsteps of Amelie, you will find it hard not to want to stay there and become a local in the heart of Montmartre.