Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 24: Montmartre

Stroll 24 Basilique Sacre Coeur

Quick Description: Famous picturesque bohemian village, featuring city vistas, iconic churches, two museums, beautiful cemetery, other interesting sites.  

Where: Right Bank, on the butte in the northwest of the city.  

Start on Rue des Abbesses, at the traffic island with a carousel, outside Metro station Abbesses (#12 line).  End on Blvd de Clichy, at Place Pigalle, outside Metro Station Pigalle (#2, #12 lines).  

Duration: 1.5 hr walk; museums and cemetery @45-60 min each; with all venues @5-6 hrs.  Three Early Departure Options. There is also a suggestion made at the Second Early Departure Option to complete the last third of the route, including visiting Cimetiere Montmartre and viewing the Moulin Rouge, on a different day, combined with Stroll 25 (Pigalle aka SOPI). 

Best Days: Tues – Sun (weekends are crowded but festive and can be fun days to visit).

Best Time to Start: 9:30am – 11am.

Ready to stroll?
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Connects: by foot to Stroll 25 (Pigalle aka SOPI), and by Metro rides of varying lengths to Stroll 13 (Musee D”Orsay to Musee Rodin), or Stroll 15 (Concorde-Tuileries-Vendome), or Stroll 16 (Concorde-Madeleine-Expiatoire), or Stroll 17 (Concorde to Place de l’Alma), or Stroll 22 (Parc Monceau & Vicinity), or Stroll 23 (Batignolles), or Stroll 26 (Cadet to Bourse via Passages), or two standalone sites, the Arc de Triomphe and Cimetiere Pere Lachaise.

Past and Present:  Montmartre (“Mount of Martyrs”) was a place of pagan worship from the 1st to the 5th centuries, when the Romans ruled Paris.  At that time it was called “Mount of Mars” or “Mount of Mercury.”  It got its current name based on the martyrdom of Saint Denis, who was beheaded by the Romans in 250 AD to stop him from proselytizing here.  Honoring Saint Denis’ memory, in the 1100s King Louis VI established a Benedictine abbey of nuns here – today’s “Rue des Abbesses” recalls it.  In the 1500s, windmills for grinding grain appeared, lasting till WWI, and from the 1600s to the 1800s gypsum was mined here. The abbey was discontinued during the Revolution and afterward the village of Montmartre developed in its place.  Incorporated into Paris in 1860, the village’s cheap rents soon drew young artists, writers, and performers, leading to an explosion of avant-garde art, theater and music. Today, Parisians and visitors flock here to enjoy the still extant bohemian vibe, plus picturesque streets, great views from the city’s highest natural point, and a wealth of attractions and dining options.  

Attractions (in order):     

  • Rue des Abbesses: At the middle of the butte’s south slope.  One of the main commercial streets of Montmartre, lined with attractive buildings housing lively cafes and restaurants, and frequented by street musicians. 
  • Church of Saint Jean de Montmartre: #21 Rue des Abbesses, across from the Abbesses Metro station.  Completed in 1904, this Catholic church features the first use of reinforced concrete construction in a house of worship, plus Art Nouveau architectural styling, ceramic decoration, murals and stained glass.  Open Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-6pm (7pm in summer), free.  Guided tour (in French) second Sunday of each month at 3:30pm, free.      
  • Le Mur des Je T’aime: Square Jehan Rictus, near the Abbesses Metro station. This is the famous “I Love You Wall,” containing inscriptions of that phrase in hundreds of languages.  The square –  a small park – where the wall is set is open from 8am (9 am Sundays) to sunset. 
  • Crypte du Martyrium de Saint Denis: #11 Rue Yvonne Le Tac.  This spare and solemn chapel was created in the 19th century on the site that was believed to be that of Saint Denis’s execution, and also the site of the oath sworn by Saint Ignatious of Loyola and his fellow University of Paris students in 1534 that led to the forming of the Jesuit order.  Open only Fridays, and the first Saturday and Sunday of each month, 3-6pm, free.  Four masses per year are held here: July 31, August 15, October 9 and December 3, free.      
  • Halle Saint Pierre#2 Rue Ronsard.  Exhibition hall for avant-garde art and related events.  Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun Noon-6pm, in August open Mon-Fri Noon-6pm, closed August 15, December 25, January 1, €9, €7 handicapped persons, €6 under 15.  
  • Square Louise Michel:  Park on the hillside below Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, with staircases leading up. 
  • Overlook of Paris: Top of the butte at Rue du Cardinal Dubois, in front of Basilique du Sacre-Coeur.  Sweeping views over Paris from the city’s highest natural point (reached via funicular or multiple staircases). 
  • Basilique du Sacre-Coeur: Top of the Montmartre butte.  Built 1875-1914 in the Romanesque-Byzantine style, this Catholic church is an iconic symbol of Montmartre and Paris and a controversial monument to conservative religious and nationalist sentiments.  The interior is a soaring space, with mosaics, murals and many exhibits.  Open daily 6am-10:30pm, free. Visitors also can climb to the top of the church’s dome for a spectacular, panoramic view of the city from its highest point.  Dome open May-Sept 8:30am-8pm, Oct-April 9am-5pm, 300 steps, €6.  (Note: The basilica level is reached by climbing a flight of stairs or using a roundabout road from the funicular’s top end.)
  • Square Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet (aka Parc de la Turlure): Access from Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, behind Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, at the top of the butte.  Small park positioned on a cliff edge, with unique views of the basilica and its bell tower and over the city to the east, plus lovely plantings including mature wisteria on a large pergola.  Daily 8am-8:30pm, free.  Public Toilets are here.
  • Church of Saint Pierre de Montmartre: #2 Rue du Mont Cenis, at the top of the butte.  Catholic church built in 1147 on the site of a pagan temple, to be the house of worship for the Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre, which controlled most of the area.  It was expanded in the 18th century and substantially restored in the early 20th century.   Open Daily 9am-7:30pm (Fri only to 6pm), free.  (Note: the church’s graveyard, Cimetiere du Calvaire, is open to the public only one day a year, November 1, All Saints Day, because of the fragility of the space.)
  • Place du Tertre: At the top of the butte.  Picturesque, lively (and usually very crowded) square occupied by artists creating and selling their paintings and surrounded by restaurants.   
  • Dali Paris (formerly known as Espace Dali): #11 Rue Poulbot, at the top of the butte.  Museum with a series of modern gallery rooms, displaying over 300 works by the 20th century Surrealist artist Salvador Dali, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, glass creations and more.  Daily 10am-6pm, €13, under 8 free. Tickets can be reserved online.  
  • Musee de Montmartre and Jardins Renoir: #12 Rue Cortot, at the top of the butte.  Museum tracing the bohemian history of Montmartre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the area was a haven for avant-garde artists, writers, musicians and actors.  Includes a recreation of the atelier of painters Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo and Andre Utter, which was located here in 1912.  In addition, visitors to the museum have access to three gardens on the property, named in honor of Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir, who resided here from 1875-1877, while painting several of his most famous works.  There is also a small café on site.  Daily 10am-7pm, €15 (Adult), €10 (Students 18-25 and handicapped persons), €8 (Youths 10-17) free (under 10).  
  • Clos de Montmartre: Rue des Saules at Rue St Vincent, at the middle of the butte’s north (back) slope.  The last operating vineyard in Paris, viewable from the street, with an October harvest festival.  
  • Au Lapin Agile: #22 Rue des Saules, across the street from Clos Montmartre. Rustic cabaret founded in about 1860, famous as a hangout of Picasso, who created a painting of the same name.  Still operating, it is open in the evenings.
  • Square Joel Le Tac: Entry at Place Constantin Pecqueur, at the middle of the butte’s north (back) slope.  Small public park named for WWII Resistance figure and Montmartre resident Joel Le Tac and featuring a statue honoring illustrator Alexandre-Theophile Steinlen, also a Montmartre resident.  Open 8am-5pm, free 
  • Eugene Carriere Monument: Rue Caulaincourt, at Rue Junot, at the middle of the butte’s north (back) slope, second half of the route.  Statue of the late 19th century painter, political figure and Montmartre resident. 
  • The Former Hotel Alsina: #39 Rue Junot, at the middle of the butte’s north (back) slope.  Now a condominium, the building was a famous trysting place of singer Edith Piaf and actor Yves Montand, and was used as a set in the 1968 Francois Truffaut film, “Stolen Kisses” for comedic scenes about lovers meeting there. 
  • Villa Leandre: off Rue Junot, at the middle of the butte’s north (back) slope.  A private dead-end street accessible to the public, lined with unusual and picturesque 19th century houses.
  • Square Suzanne Buisson: #7 bis Rue Girardon, but with other entrances, at the top of the butte.  Park named for a WWII Resistance figure, featuring a statue of Saint Denis, a boules court, a children’s playground and varied plantings.  Mon-Fri 8am-6:30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6:30pm, free. 
  • Place Dalida: Near Square Suzanne Buisson, at the top of the butte.   Street plaza named for the popular 20th  century Italian-French singer and Montmartre resident, Iolina Yolanda Gigliotti, professionally known as “Dalida,” and featuring a sculpted bust of her.   
  • Place Marcel Ayme:  Near Square Suzanne Buisson, at the top of the butte.  Street plaza named for the 20th century screenwriter and Montmartre resident and featuring an unusual sculpture of him coming through a wall, entitled “Le Passe-Muraille” (The Walker Through Walls).  
  • Place Emile Goudeau and La Bateau Lavoir site: South slope of the butte.  Plaza with trees named for a 19th century journalist and featuring a building façade that pays tribute to “Le Bateau Lavoir,” a ramshackle collection of studios that existed here in the early 20th century and were used by many now famous artists, including Picasso. 
  • Jardin des Abbesses: Access from Passage des Abbesses, a staircase descending from Rue Lepic on the butte’s south slope.  Garden in a hidden courtyard, reminiscent of the Middle Ages, with a pergola and medicinal plants.  Mon-Fri 8am-5:30pm, Sat and Sun 9am-5:30pm, free. 
  • Cimetiere Montmartre#20 Avenue Rachel, at the bottom of the south slope of the butte.  Large cemetery that is set in a beautiful wooded grotto (formerly a gypsum quarry), with ornate tombs, many containing the remains of famous persons, and  inhabited by “chats noirs” (feral black cats).  Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 8:30am-6pm, Sun 9am-6pm, free.      
  • Le Moulin Rouge: #82 Blvd de Clichy, at Rue Lepic and Place Blanche, at the bottom of the south slope of the butte.  World famous cabaret hall topped by a red windmill, founded in 1889, now (rebuilt) housing a nightclub, concert hall and dance venue known as La Machine du Moulin Rouge.  The venue is open in the evenings, but it also has a rooftop bar with day and night hours (see “Dining Suggestions”).  
  • Villa des Plantanes: #58-60 Blvd de Clichy, at the bottom of the south side of the butte.  Ornate apartment building constructed in 1896, viewable from its entry  gate. 
  • Cite du Midi: #48 Blvd de Clichy, at the bottom of the south slope of the butte.  A pedestrian alley accessible to the public, dating from the 19th century and lined with picturesque houses and other buildings, including an historic bath house.
  • Place Pigalle: Blvd de Clichy, at the bottom of the south slope of butte.  This traffic plaza dates from the 19th century and is named for a popular 18th century artist.  In past times it was a notorious red-light area, but is now more of a zone of hipster bars.  It is the site of a Metro station and also marks the boundary between Montmartre and the Pigalle neighborhood to the south (see Stroll 25).  

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Le Relais Gascon: There are two branches.  One is at #6 Rue des Abbesses, between Metro station Abbesses and the  funicular to the top of the butte; the other is at #13 Rue Joseph de Maistre, at the western end of Rue des Abbesses, near Cimetiere Montmartre.  Cuisine of southwest France, including a menu of giant salads topped with fried potatoes (easily enough for two to share).  Traditional rooms, outdoor seating.  Daily 11am-Midnight.  Giant Salads @€12.50-15.50, Mains @€13-23, Prix fixe menus Mon-Fri @€9.90-18.5-29.5, Kid’s menu @€9.5, wines by the glass, carafe or bottle, full bar, soft drinks, coffee, tea. 
  • Le Cambodge Montmartre: #20 Rue Yvonne le Tac, between Metro station Abbesses and the  funicular to the top of the butte.  Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.  It was the first Asian restaurant in Montmartre, opened in 1991.  Mostly a take-out place, but has a few tables outside.  Mon-Sat Noon-3:30pm, 6:30-10:30pm.  Average cost @€15-20 2 courses.
  • Le Progres: #7 Rue des Trois Frères, at Rue Yvonne le Tac, between Metro station Abbesses and the funicular to the top of the butte.  Bar / Bistro with Bobo vibe.  French cuisine.  Traditional room featuring big windows, outdoor seating.  Daily 9am-2am.  Average cost @€30 2 courses.
  • Restaurant Le Poulbot: #3 Rue Poulbot, at the top of the butte, near Place du Tertre and the Dali Paris museum.   French cuisine, short menu.  Small country-style room, a few rustic outdoor tables.  Daily Noon-2:30pm, 6:30-10:30pm.  Average cost @€35-45 3 courses.  
  • Chez Plumeau: #4 Place du Calvaire, at the top of the butte, near Place du Tertre and the Dali Paris museum.  French cuisine, salad mains, burgers, kid’s menu.  Country-style room, plentiful outdoor seating on private patio under a giant mature wisteria.  Daily 8am-Midnight. Average cost @€30-35 3 courses.
  • La Maison Rose: #2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, at Rue des Saules, at the top of the butte, near both Musee de Montmartre and the Clos Montmartre vineyard. A famous location in Montmartre, opened in 1905.  French cuisine, short menu.  Bright, homey room, outdoor seating.    Wed-Fri Noon-10pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-10pm.  Average cost: @€25-35 2 courses.  
  • Café de la Butte#71 Rue Caulaincourt, on the north (back) slope of the butte.  French cuisine.  Traditional room, outdoor seating.  Tues-Sat 10am-2am, Mon 6:30pm-2am.  Lunch prix fixe @€14.5-18.  
  • Le Bistrot du Maquis: #69 Rue Caulaincourt, on the north (back) slope of the butte.  French cuisine.  Traditional room, outdoor seating.  Sun, Wed-Thurs Noon-2pm, 7:30-10pm, Fri-Sat Noon-2pm, 7:15-10:30pm.  Average cost @€35 2 courses. 
  • Le Cepage Montmartrois: #65 Rue Caulaincourt, on the north (back) side of the butte.  French cuisine.  Spacious traditional room, plentiful outdoor seating.  Daily 8am-11:45pm.  Lunch cost: appetizers @€5-12, mains @€13-16, salad mains @€11-14.  Slightly higher prices at dinner.
  • Le Coq Rico & Fils: #98 Rue Lepic, top of the butte.  “The Beautiful Bird & Son” is a high concept, chicken-centric restaurant run by Michelin award winning chef Antoine Westerman.  Modern room.  Daily Noon-2:30pm, 7-10:30pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€31 3 courses. 
  • Le Relais de la Butte: #12 Rue Ravignon, at Place Emile-Goudeau and Rue des Trois Freres,  south slope of the butte.  French cuisine.  Traditional room, outdoor seating on scenic plaza.  Often live music on weekends, recalling the plaza’s history as a 19th century guingette (countryside restaurant-dance hall).  Daily 8am-1am. Lunch prix fixe @€16 2 courses, dinner prix fixe @€36 3 courses plus champagne and coffee, kid’s menu @€12.   
  • Caratello Group (Ristorante Al Caratello (also Pizza, Piccolo): All are on Rue Audran, at #5 and across the street at #8, a half block off Rue des Abbesses, on the south slope of the butte, near Cimetiere Montmartre.  All offer Italian cuisine. Al Caratello features antipasto plates and a wide array of pasta dishes; Pizza Caratello specializes in pizzas, though pasta dishes are also available; Picollo Caratello offers light plates, emphasizing vegetables.  Each venue features a small, casual dining room and outdoor seating.  Prices per dish are under €20.  Hours for all: Mon, Tues and Fri Noon-2:30pm and 7-11:30pm, Wed-Thurs dinner only 7-11:30pm, Sat-Sun Noon-3pm and 7-11:30pm.      
  • L’Ecaille de la Mascotte: #52 Rue des Abbesses, south slope of the butte, near Cimetiere Montmartre.  Market style seafood restaurant and retail store, specializing in shellfish, affiliated with the fancier, pricier Restaurant Mascotte next door.  Casual tables inside and on the sidewalk.  Daily 9am-Midnight.  Platters range in price from @€20 to €120.
  • Le Terrass: #12 Rue Joseph de Maistre, at western end of Rue des Abbesses, south slope of the butte,nea Cimetiere Montmartre.  Restaurant / Bar on rooftop of hotel of the same name.  French cuisine.  Modern glass walled room, outdoor patio seating, both with broad views.    Bar open Tues-Sat 3:30pm-Midnight, Sun-Mon 3:30pm-11:30pm.  Cocktails €9-17, Wines by the glass @€8-9, Small Plates “Snack” Menu €9-17.  Consult the website or call regarding current restaurant operation and hours. 
  • Le Bar a BullesAccess at #4 Cite Veron, off Blvd de Clichy, at the base of the south slope of the butte. “The Bubble Bar,” a cocktail bar, offers an indoor space as well as two outdoor decks next to the windmill of Le Moulin Rouge.  Tues-Wed 6pm-Midnight, Turd 6pm-1am, Fri 6pm-2am, Sat Noon-2am, Sun Noon-10pm.  Brunch Sat and Sun at 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm, reservations required, average cost @€24.  
  • Bouillon Pigalle: #22 Boulevard de Clichy, at Place Pigalle, base of the south slope of the butte.   In the late 19th century, “bouillons” were worker’s cafes serving traditional French and Alsatian food at very cheap prices, often in elegantly decorated dining halls.  Today there are again a number of such establishments in Paris, all very popular. This one is of recent vintage.  It has a modern room and a hipster vibe.  Daily Noon-Midnight.  Average cost @€16-20 3 courses, plus good prices on wine and other beverages.  No reservations, wait in line (which can be long at peak hours).

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Stroll Map

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