Why you Should Book a Walking Tour in Montmartre
Whether or not taking a walking tour through Montmartre is the best way to see this historic village really isn’t the question. The real question is when is the best time to take said walking tour, and how does one go about booking with a reputable source?
If Montmartre is on your bucket list, this is everything you’ll need to know about exploring the village.
Montmartre is a Village Best Explored on Foot
Montmartre is situated in the 18th arrondissement, scattered up and atop what is known as the Montmartre Hill.
At the foot of this hill is the neighborhood of Pigalle; a vibrant, risqué party strip known for being Paris’ old red light district. The minute you make your way up a north-bound side alley in Pigalle, you’re headed into Montmartre.
The streets that wind through Montmartre and eventually reach the summit of the hill are mostly cobblestone and incredibly narrow. The incline of Montmartre Hill is steep in parts, and shallow in others.
You really do get to capture the true charm and essence of this old village when exploring the area on foot. Montmartre is a slow-paced, quiet neighborhood.
You’ll Get to See all of the Best Attractions
You could absolutely take a taxi from the bottom of Montmartre Hill right up to the summit where we find the Scare Coeur Basilica. You’ll save a lot of time, if that’s your concern, but you’ll lose a lot of experience in the process.
Because of the narrow, winding streets, taxis are just not able to give visitors the same visual experience of the neighborhood that being on one’s feet can.
If you aren’t already aware, this district is one that is filled with famous Parisian attractions. To name a few:
- The Sacre Coeur Basilica
- The I Love You Wall
- Cafe des Deux Moulins
- Montmartre Vineyard
- Montmartre Museum
- Lapin Agile
- Place du Tertre
- La Maison Rose
- Moulin Rouge
- Montmartre Cemetery
- Le Moulin de la Galette
This is but to name a few. And since all of Montmartre’s attractions are within close walking distance to one another, it makes little sense to taxi from place to place.
This is where the walking tours come in. They are carefully curated to include all of the village’s most notable attractions on a walk designed to take the most efficient routes up the hill.
Since there is no real pattern to the street grid in Montmartre, having a guide lead the way is a bit help and eliminates the stress of self-navigating, or having to rely on strangers for directions.
It’s Actually Better to Walk Montmartre in the Winter!
A big misconception is that Paris’ guided walking tours are activities better suited to the French summer season.
While most things are better experienced in the summer, I would go as far as to say that a walking tour through Montmartre is the one exception.
Because of the natural landscape of this village and the steep incline of Montmartre Hill, a walking tour becomes ten times more enjoyable on a cooler day in the city. Parisian summers are notorious for their hot, sticky air, and climbing a hill under the baking sun isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
A walking tour in Montmartre is a worthwhile excursion year round, especially when the weather is ensuring you don’t have to break a sweat!
Montmartre is one of Paris’ Most Historic Neighborhoods
Above all else, you need to book a walking tour through Montmartre as the neighborhood is like one giant museum. Words fail when trying to describe just how majestic the history of this place truly is; Montmartre was probably single handedly responsible for the essence of Paris as we know it today.
It was here that the artists, royals and youth from all over Europe flocked when a deep seated sense of existential crisis began to set in worldwide. Montmartre birthed the Bohemian revolution; a radical change in thought and behavior amongst the people that still lives on today.
As you walk, you’ll be able to draw remnants of this era in subtle yet unmissable ways. Even the ways that locals interact in this part of Paris is different to any other arrondissement.
Booking Your Walking Tour
In preparation for your walking tour you’ll need to keep a few points in mind.
Firstly, your physical attire will make or break your Montmartre walking experience. Comfortable walking shoes are of the utmost importance, with a sunhat/sunblock following a close second.
In the summer, you’ll want to wear light clothing. Have your shoulders protected from direct sun, if you can, and if you’ll be brining a lot of gear along then a backpack is recommended in place of tote or handbags.
In the winter, layer up but try not to overdo it. You’ll warm up quickly during the ascent, and might regret a few of them after a while. An umbrella or raincoat might be necessary this time of year, but you can generally tell from the morning of.
Since Paris has an abundance of free guided walking tours departing at any given time, you’ll rarely encounter a lack of options.
For Montmartre in particular, you’ll want to book well in advance in order to avoid waling groups filling up. This is one of the top areas for walking tours in Paris, so expect many other travelers to be on the same wave length as you.