Paris Walking Tour: Insider's Guide to Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris. scalleja
By Jacquelin Carnegie

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Montmartre was an off-the-beaten-path hangout for artists, poets, and other interesting characters. Now, due in part to the popularity of the film Amélie, Montmartre has become a tourist attraction.

Luckily, there are still many ways to explore this neighborhood like a local. To get a genuine experience, plan to sightsee early in the morning. Then head down the less tourist-trodden side streets, meet the locals in bistros and bars, and buy goods from shopkeepers chatting with their regular customers.

Photo Caption: Montmartre, Paris. Photo by scalleja/Flickr.com.
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Café des Deux Moulins in Montmartre, Paris, now also known as Amelie's Cafe. mariosp
Café des Deux Moulins -- where actress Audrey Tatou's character worked as a waitress in Amélie -- is naturally now known as "Amélie's Café." After snapping the requisite photos, keep walking to see more neighborhood landmarks.

Where: 15 Rue Lepic, near the Moulin Rouge; Métro: Blanche

Photo Caption: Café des Deux Moulins in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by mariosp/Flickr.com.
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Le Bateau Lavoir in Montmartre, Paris. Frommers.com Community
Le Bateau-Lavoir is worth a look because some of the most influential artists and writers of the 20th century once lived on this spot. Pablo Picasso had a studio from 1904 to 1912. He painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon here, ushering in Cubism. Other former residents include artists Amedeo Modigliani and Juan Gris, as well as poets Max Jacob and André Salmon. A fire destroyed the original building, but there's a commemorative window in the new one.

Where: 13 rue Ravignan, Place Emile Goudeau; Métro: Abbesses

Photo Caption: Le Bateau Lavoir in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by Jeffrey F/Frommers.com Community.
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Le Mur des "Je t'aime" - the "I Love You" Wall in Montmartre, Paris. Moxieg
What looks like a blackboard covered with writing is actually a wall of glazed tiles with "I Love You" written in 250 languages to inspire peace and love.

Where: Place des Abbesses, Square Jehan Rictus; Métro: Abbesses

More Info: www.lesjetaime.com

Photo Caption: Le Mur des "Je t'aime" -- the "I Love You" Wall in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by Moxieg/Flickr.com.
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Le Passe-Muraille, a sculpture in Montmartre, Paris, is based on a short story of the same name. ptwo
This enchanting sculpture, bursting through a wall, is based on a short story by writer Marcel Aymé, who lived in Montmartre. The character, Monsieur Dutilleul, was able to walk through walls (le passe-muraille). The multi-talented French actor Jean Marais made the bronze sculpture as a tribute to the author.

Where: Place Marcel Aymé, at rue Norvins & rue Girardon; Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt

Photo Caption: Le Passe-Muraille, a sculpture in Montmartre, Paris, is based on a short story of the same name. Photo by ptwo/Flickr.com.
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Musée de Montmatre, Paris. ktylerconk
Before Manoir de Rosimond housed artifacts highlighting Montmartre's fascinating history, the building was home to some incredible artists, such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Maurice Utrillo, and Raoul Dufy. Its hidden courtyard garden is lovely as well.

Where: 12 rue Cortot; Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt

More Info: tel. 01/49-25-89-37; www.museedemontmartre.fr

Photo Caption: Musée de Montmatre, Paris. Photo by ktylerconk/Flickr.com.
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View of the Clos Montmartre, Paris. Basili/Wikimedia Commons
Montmartre's vineyards date from 390 B.C., but the vines in the current Clos Montmartre (between rue des Saules and rue Saint-Vincent right behind the museum) were planted in 1929. Every year, during the first week of October, Montmartre's Harvest Festival, La Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre (www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com) is celebrated with a parade, wine-tasting booths, food stalls, music, and dancing in the streets.

Where: Between rue des Saules and rue Saint-Vincent; Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt

More Info: tel. 01/44-92-35-34; www.commanderie-montmartre.com

Photo Caption: View of the Clos Montmartre, Paris. Photo by Basili/Wikimedia Commons.
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Le Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris. auselen
If you have time for only one activity in Montmartre, make it an evening at Lapin Agile. Opened in 1860, artists and writers such as Picasso, Utrillo, and Modigliani used to hang out here. Now, the renowned singer Yves Mathieu and his handsome sons, Frédéric and Vincent, keep the art of French chanson alive. You can't go back in time, but a talented group of musicians and singers brings the past to life each night.

Where: 22 rue des Saules; Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt

More Info: tel. 01/46-06-85-87; www.au-lapin-agile.com

Cost: €24 per person, includes one drink

Photo Caption: Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by auselen/Flickr.com.
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Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, Paris. Frommers.com Community
The best way to see Montmartre is on foot. In addition to famous places such as Sacré-Coeur, Place du Tertre, and historic cabarets, this two-hour Paris Walks tour takes you past former artists' studios (Renoir, Lautrec, Van Gogh), gardens, and lesser-known sites.

More Info: tel. 01/48-09-21-40; www.paris-walks.com

Photo Caption: Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by EnchantingIreland.com/Frommers.com Community.
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Au Relais bistro in Montmartre, Paris. rafelbunyol
Want to eat and drink like a local? Paris Walks proprietors, Peter and Oriel Caine, recommend these six neighborhood spots.

Au Relais bistro (48 rue Lamarck; tel. 01/46-06-68-32www.restaurant-aurelais-paris18.fr), at the base of the rue Mont Cenis staircase, is the spot if you're in the mood for some classic French fare. There's also a nice terrace.

Les Petits Mitrons (26 rue Lepic; tel. 01/46-06-10-29) is a local bakery much loved for its homemade quiches and fruit tarts. (Try the chocolate and pear one.)

Lepic Assiette (35 rue Lepic; tel. 01/42-55-95-95) is a great neighborhood crêperie that's affordable and perfect for a light lunch.

L'Etoile de Montmartre (26 rue Duhesme; tel. 01/46-06-14-65), near the Lamarck metro stop, is another favorite bistro.

Want to meet the locals? Head off the main streets and into neighborhood bars: La Midinette (2 rue Robert Planquette; tel. 01/42-54-40-70; www.midinettemontmartre.fr) and Le Colibri (35 rue Véron; tel. 01/46-06-07-90; www.colibri-montmartre.com).

Photo Caption: Au Relais bistro in Montmartre, Paris. Photo by rafelbunyol/Flickr.com.
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The funicular of Montmartre. Robert Breuer/Wikimedia Commons
Montmartre (www.montmartre-paris-france.com) is on a hill in the 18th arrondissement. You can walk up several different sets of steep steps or rely on public transportation.

By Métro: Abbesses or Lamarck-Caulaincourt

By Bus: Montmartrobus from Place Pigalle to Jules Joffrin, making several stops. (Look for a Sacré-Coeur symbol on the bus and the bus stops.)

By Funicular: From Rue Tardieu to Rue Saint Eleuthère

If you have difficulty walking or just want to take it easy, hop on the little tourist choo-choo, Le Petit Train de Montmartre (www.promotrain.fr) at Place Blanche.

Photo Caption: The funicular of Montmartre. Photo by Robert Breuer/Wikimedia Commons.
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