Montmartre, to this traveler, feels like the most authentically Parisian neighborhood in all of Paris. It’s where many artists and writers lived and worked during La Belle Epoque as well as the 1920’s, when Hemingway and Fitzgerald thrived there. The streets are cobblestone. Homes are stone and brick. The architecture is old, and the buildings have a whitewashed, pastel, foggy feel. It’s unique, like New Orleans in the U.S.; there’s no other place like it in the world.
*Someone* became a little obsessed with the beautiful store fronts all over the neighborhood. Here are [quite a few] photos to give you an idea of the look of the back streets of this amazing neighborhood. I recommend walking around, snapping photos and taking in the scenery. Stop at a cafe (see Coquelicot below!) and have a coffee or glass of wine. Peek into a trinket shop. Get delicious ice cream at Scaramouche.
Coquelicot is a truly perfect Parisian cafe and bakery. The treats are unbelievably delicious, and always fresh, and the coffee is fantastic. Order your special treats downstairs, and then head upstairs to the cutest dining room ever, decorated with very ‘Montmartre’ items, such as old boots, a stuffed bear, kitschy statues of chefs, and more. Get a seat by the window and look down over the serene and beautiful street.
Oh. And check out the place mat. It’s a funny map drawing of the whole neighborhood.
Place du Tertre
This is where the art is! Amazing local artists display their work all around the plaza. The feel is right out of an old movie about Paris in the 1920’s. Some artists there are even waiting to draw a portrait or caricature of you. The plaza brims with creativity and is full of both tourists and locals.
I got some amazing photos here. One was of a dog with a price tag attached: one million euros! I also caught an adorable, white Pomeranian looking up at her owner for instructions. Most interesting was a woman in a French-style costume singing, whistling and playing the accordion.
You could spend hours in Tertre, taking in the inspiration and Parisian energy. Stop for lunch at one of the cafes that overlook it. Have a crepe. Watch the dogs and people wandering past…
… then head over to the Sacre Coeur, the cathedral that defines the Montmartre skyline. You’ll always find this cathedral surrounded by curious tourists. It stands along the highest point in the entire city, and you can see it from many rooftops. It has quite the interesting history, and it offers unparalleled photo opportunities because of its elevation. It’s a great spot for getting shots of all of Paris.
Don’t forget to notice the gargoyles, of course. And while you’re in Montmartre, you absolutely must visit…
The Dali museum
So much of Salvador Dali’s work is collected here, it’s amazing. There’s art, sculpture, fashion design, comic strips, sketches, golden statues, and even furniture. There are informative descriptions of each, and enough information to inspire you for a very long time. This was one of my two–no, three, no six, no fifteen!–favorite museums in the city, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go. Be inspired. Feel alive.
There’s nothing particularly interesting about this cafe if you compare it to the many others in Montmartre (they’re all great!). But the food and wine were great, and it’s in the heart of Montmartre, and the patio seating afforded excellent people-watching opportunities. See my travel companion smiling; she felt very happy to enjoy the afternoon here, sipping wine and experiencing the liveliness of the neighborhood.
Musee De La Vie Romantique
This museum is quirky and fascinating. It’s housed in a beautiful historic home and contains a genuine model made of Frederic Chopin’s hand (cool!) as well as a lock of George Sand’s hair. Every room holds historic trivia about Sand and the many people who surrounded her, including Ary Scheffer and others. The Wikipedia link gives the incredible list of artists and writers who visited this home at some point. Now that it’s been converted, the museum is full of weird, cool surprises, including art by Sand herself.
I always admired Sand, and this museum gave me many more reasons to.
A little blog post can’t express how amazing the Montmartre neighborhood is. You must set aside at least a whole day to explore the historic and beautiful landmarks. You’ll feel very French.
If you visit any of these places, comment and let me know what you think! And if you’re curious for more, see my other posts on Paris.
~Page Light Studios