Top 10 Reasons to Love Montmartre
Montmartre is hard not to love.
The only individuals who have ever openly expressed an unfazed attitude toward the village in the 18th arrondissement were people who had a disdain for any terrain that required an inclined walk. Montmartre is a village built on a hill, giving it one of the most majestic views over Paris — in my opinion this is just more reason to love it!
Perhaps I’m simply biased and have been in the city long enough for Montmartre to have crept into my bones. So let’s break down the top ten reasons to love Montmartre if you are yet to get there on your own.
1. The Greatest Artists in the World Loved It
Sometimes this fact about Montmartre receives some backlash. “Of course they loved it, they had to love it, it was the only place they could afford to live”.
While this may be true to the earlier artists who made their way to Paris just after the Revolution, it is not the case for all. Many of the great artists set up affordable lifestyle in the 18th arrondissement and chose to stay long after their success found them.
Claude Monet was one of them. Even during his most successful years, Monet lived between Normandy and Montmartre in regular intervals. Montmartre was his first and last home in Paris; a village he loved so dearly that the largest remaining collection of his works was handed over to the Montmartre Museum following his death.
The intention being that his art could live on in the district he loved so dearly.
Vincent van Gogh found it hard to tear himself from the beauty of these streets as well. He returned to Montmartre many times during his career to bask in the street life, through which he was able to produce famous pieces including the Terrace of a Cafe on Montmartre and his many paintings of the Montmartre windmills.
Picasso, Dali, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec also called this neighborhood home for large portions of their lives in the French capital. Were they all successful because of Montmartre? Or is Montmartre simply successful because of them? A love story like no other.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – Montmartre Museum
OPENING HOURS: MONDAY TO SUNDAY – 10AM TO 7PM
ADDRESS: 12 Rue Cortot, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: LAMARCK – CAULAINCOURT
2. Love it for the Art They Left Behind
Not everyone is able to love a land simply because of its romanticized history. Some need tangible sources of interest; things they can see and touch that connect the dots of a past timeline into the present.
The museums of Montmartre came into being thanks to the abundance of art left behind by the great masters who worked here during the 19th and 20th centuries.
As mentioned, the Montmartre Museum near the summit of the hill holds a large amount of Monet originals; the largest collection of Monet paintings in a single vicinity, in fact.
Of course there were also lesser known artists roaming through the streets of Montmartre at the same time, creating works and living the Bohemian dream. The museum showcases a collection of pieces from this time, in a chronological, almost storytelling display of Montmartre’s progression as a village in Paris.
The Dali Museum is a short walk from the Montmartre Museum. It is fast on its way to being one of the most significant tourist attractions in Paris, following a few dismal years prior to the much needed renovations.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – Dali Museum
OPENING HOURS: MONDAY TO SUNDAY – 10AM TO 6:30PM
ADDRESS: 11 Rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: Abbesses
3. Best Brunch Spots in all of Paris
Your first weekend spent in Paris will be an eye opening experience. At the close of the week this city becomes even more alive than it is during the bustling weekdays.
Best you familiarize yourself very quickly with the concept known as “brunching”.
Brunch is a serious event for true Parisians. Montmartre takes this past time particularly seriously making it not only a sought after village to head to on the weekend, but a sought after neighborhood to actually live in just to be consistently close to the action.
While you could arrive at Montmartre hill on a Sunday morning, make your way up the hill and consider brunch spots along the way — I have a spot or two in mind to make things a bit easier.
La Bossue is a short walk from the Abbesses metro station. On Sundays they start the day promptly at 10:30am with an elaborate brunch buffet for €24 a person.
Reservations are somewhat essential. In Montmartre this is thee place to be on a Sunday at this time.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – La Bossue
OPENING HOURS: Wednesday TO SUNDAY – 8:30AM TO 7PM
ADDRESS: 9 Rue Joseph de Maistre, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: Blanche
4. The Sacre Coeur Basilica, Of Course
With this fairytale church towering over the village, Montmartre becomes a photographers dream.
The bell towers of the Sacre Coeur reach high into the sky, so they creep up in places around the village you’d least expect them. Most terraces and balconies in Montmartre have some sort of peeping view of the Sacre Coeur towers.
Even the 2 star hotels of Montmartre are able to charge a bit more per room rate due to the very sought after view from their higher floors. That being said, Montmartre is far enough from Paris’ city center for accommodation to remain affordable; even the luxury hotels in this neighborhood cost a fraction of what one would pay near the Louvre or in Invalides.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – Sacre Coeur Basilica
ADDRESS: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: LAMARCK – CAULAINCOURT
5. It Has Its Own Vineyard
There is no other suburb in Paris that possessed this claim to fame.
You’ll actually have to go to the Renoir gardens if you’d like to see this beautiful orchard; the vineyard is not currently open to the public.
The vineyard was originally started as a conservation project by the city if Paris who were trying to limit the amount of land that could be developed into housing in Montmartre.
Once a year the fruits of the vineyard are reaped in a great festival called La Fête des Vendanges. It’s a five day celebration of wine, food, music and crafts that takes place throughout different parts of the village.
This happens in October, and anywhere between 1000 to 1700 bottles of wine are made from the vines in the Clos Montmartre & then auctioned off with all proceeds going to charity.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – Clos Montmartre
ADDRESS: Rue des Saules, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: LAMARCK – CAULAINCOURT
6. There is an Entire Wall Dedicated to Love
A wall of love, in the village we love, in the city of love, what’s not to love?
The I Love You Wall is a 40ft art installation that lives in the square just opposite the Abbesses metro stop.
Everyday people from around the world make their way to Montmartre just to be in the presence of this beautiful piece. The wall features the words “I love you” in over 250 languages and dialects from around the world.
The intention of the piece is, as you’d probably guessed, love, tolerance and unity for all mankind. It’s a reminder for both the people of Paris and travelers to the city that Paris is a place of inclusion for all.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – The I Love You Wall
OPENING HOURS: MONDAY TO SUNDAY – 8AM TO 6PM
ADDRESS: Square Jehan Rictus, Place des Abbesses, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: Abbesses
7. The Montmartre Village Comes to Life on Weekends
A Parisian friend of mine once mentioned that Montmartre is a “staycation” for the locals of the city, just as much as it is a vacation spot for people from around the world.
At the weekend Montmartre comes to life, since most local Parisians and Montmartre residents have two days off of work. As I mentioned, many flock to the village on the hill to enjoy brunch as well as the less crowded museums (tourists tend to head to the city center for this).
On weekend evenings, the cinemas, theaters and restaurants of Montmartre are open late. People are often surprised that they aren’t even able to get a table in the massive 300 seater Bouillon de Pigalle at 9pm on a Sunday in Montmartre.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION – Bouillon de Pigalle
OPENING HOURS: MONDAY TO SUNDAY – 12PM TO 12AM
ADDRESS: 22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
METRO STATION: Pigalle
8. It is the One Place in Paris where the Bohemian Spirit Stands Strong
This is what most take away from Montmartre having visited Paris for the first time.
History and films teach us about Paris and the ways in which each element that makes up the city came to be. The Eiffel Tower began as an exhibit piece at a fair in 1889; the Bastille was stormed the same year and, following that, the French Revolution brought artists and Bohemian culture into the city of lights.
Today there are few places in Paris in which that culture of the Bohemian people can still be felt in the streets. Montmartre is the suburb still clinging to the remnants of these times, with Pigalle’s strip having changed very little since the early 1900s (just a little more PG, perhaps).
Street culture is best experienced by foot; a free guided walking tour starting at the foot of the hill in Pigalle and working up to the Sacre Coeur is the best way to dive right into the thick of it all. Tours run daily throughout Paris.
9. It has the Best Airbnbs in Paris
Earlier I touched on how even luxury hotels cost a lot less per night in Montmartre when compared to those closer to the city center. This is also true for the Airbnbs of Montmartre.
In addition to paying less (usually for more space, too) you’ll enjoy the actual Parisian apartments of real Montmartre residents. A vastly different experience to staying in a commercial hotel.
Despite the obvious tourist traps and a few notable retailers, Montmartre remains largely less gentrified than other neighborhoods in Paris. The Airbnbs give one an authentic French housing experience, close to what the artists from the earlier years would have enjoyed.
Being able to walk out of your Airbnb and into a Montmartre cafe is a nice perk, too.
10. You Can Walk the Whole of Montmartre in One Day
When traveling on a tight schedule, districts that can be explored in their entirety in under a day, without public transport, are always more appealing.
Travelers to Paris love Montmartre and its compact nature. The winding streets make for a bit of a treasure hunt through the village when you are looking for something in particular; perhaps a fromagerie or the best almond croissant in Paris.
If you’re on a strict tourist mission and want to see all of the sites in under a day this is possible too. It helps to make a list of unmissable landmarks prior to beginning your journey.
The Moulin Rouge marks a good starting point. Work your way up and stop by any of the following: Dalida’s statue and/or tomb, the Montmartre Cemetery, the windmills of Montmartre, the Montmartre Museum, la Maison Rose, Théâtre Montmartre Galabru, Studio 28 Cinemas, Lapin Agile, the vineyard… the list goes on.
End your day at the summit, outside the Sacre Coeur, basking in your undoubtable newfound appreciation for this whimsical place. It loves you back.