guide to montmartre

The Complete Guide to Montmartre Paris

If you’re visiting Paris then you’ll need to visit the wonderful Montmartre area of the city. Steeped in history, stunningly beautiful and with so much to see, it’s must-do during your trip to the city. From the famous white church (the Sacré-Cœur) to the Moulin Rouge, Montmartre is home to some of the city’s most iconic monuments and boy is it fun to explore.

Our guide is written by someone who actually lives in Paris and has done for the last 8 years. So read on to discover more about the incredible area of Montmartre!

Our guide is split into the following sections:

What is Montmartre and Where is it in Paris?

Montmartre is an area in the 18th arrondissement, on the right bank and in the north of the city. It was once an ancient village outside of the city centre dating back to the 12th century where the Saint-Pierre church (which still stands today) was first founded by Louis VI. The old village survived the capital’s tumultuous years of change and finally became absorbed by the city in 1860.

Nowadays Montmartre is known for its artistic side with Renoir and Picasso having lived and worked in the area. It’s also home to the famous white domed Sacré-Cœur basilica on the top of the hill which looks down to the rest of the city. The lower section of Montmartre, Pigalle, is known for its night-life and fantastic bars.

The area itself has been, on the whole, untouched by years of change and the area has retained it’s old Parisian charm. The old, cobbled streets are lovely to walk around in and take in the sights of the ancient area. For me, it’s definitely one of the must-do areas of the city!

Practical Information

I’d recommend visiting Montmartre by foot – it’s the only way to really explore the area.

It’s also an area of the city with few metro stations but there is the Montmartrobus which loops down from Pigalle, up past the Sacré-Cœur to the Clignancourt square and back again. It’s a very small electric bus (that isn’t disability friendly) that was made especially for the small, narrow streets of Montmartre.

Note: The old village of Montmartre is on-top of a 128m high hill and getting by foot means climbing up many of the famous staircases of Montmartre. I’d advise to wear comfortable shoes and to bring a bottle of water!

What to Do & See

Montmartre has so many things to see and do. It’s a charming old area of Paris which is perfect just to walk around and

Sacré-Cœur: The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is one of the most iconic monuments of Paris. Located right at the top of the hill, the white domed church is a must-visit. It’s free to enter the main church or you can pay to climb up to the top. The area infant of the church has uninterrupted views across the city.

Place du Tertre: The Place du Tertre is the old central square of the ancient village. Here’s where you’ll find the famous artists of Montmartre painting portraits & caricatures. There’s a limited amount of artists and their spots are highly sought after – they work is even judged by professionals to ensure that they’re good enough to be there

Wall of Love: The Wall of Love is a large wall contains the words ‘I love you’ 311 times in 250 languages. It’s located right next to the Abbessess metro station in Montmartre.

The Vineyard of Montmartre: A peculiarity of Montmartre is that is has the only vineyard in the city. On the smaller side, you unfortunately can’t go inside but you can walk around the outside. Located a stones throw from the Sacré-Cœur, it’s also next to the famous ‘pink restaurant’ and the Au Lapin Agile cabaret.

Check below to discover even more things to do in Montmartre:

Tip: If you love food and want to do discover Montmartre in one evening then I’d recommend you go on an evening food tour in Montmartre – click to read our unbiased review. You can also book tickets here directly.

Where to Eat & Drink in Montmartre

Montmartre is home to some fantastic restaurants but there’s also a lot of tourist traps (especially around and below the Sacre-Cœur!). I’d avoid going to any restaurants with English menus and photos of the food outside.

For really good French food in Montmartre I’d recommend Le Réciproque, Chantoiseau or, on the cheaper side, Bouillon Pigalle. Click below to read more about these restaurants:

Tip: Avoid eating in the famous Place du Tertre (the square next to the Sacre-Cœur. This square, although charming, is full of overpriced tourist traps that don’t serve particularly good food! (it is nice for a drink though)

If you’re wanting on the hunt for somewhere to drink in the area then you’re in luck, there are some of the best bars in the city in Montmartre! The majority are in the Pigalle area, on the footsteps of Montmartre. I’d recommend trying the Dirty Dick and Le Lipstick for some fantastic cocktails. Read more in our Best Bars in Montmartre guide below:

Where to Stay in Montmartre

There are some fantastic hotels in Montmartre and we’ve picked 3 of our favourites.

  • Terrass Hotel: This is a really nice 4* hotel located at the end of Rue des Abbesses. The hotel overlooks the incredible Montmartre Cemetery and also has a fantastic rooftop bar.
  • Hôtel Des Arts: The Hôtel Des Arts is another beautiful 4* boutique hotel in the heart of Montmartre. The hotel’s in a stunning old Parisian building and they’ve kept the vintage Paris charm in their beautiful decor.
  • Manolita: The Manolita is a 5* hotel which is perfectly located right next to the Moulin Rouge. Here you’ll be in the middle of the eclectic Pigalle neighbourhood which is perfect to explore Montmartre and the surrounding areas.

FAQ: Montmartre

Is Montmartre Paris Safe at Night?

Montmartre is generally a safe area but, just like the rest of the city, there are some spots you will want to careful in. The Pigalle area gets very lively at night and there can be some sketchy characters around. I’d advise to avoid the dimly lit areas and side streets.

Around the Sacré-Cœur and the Place du Tertre there will be some scammers so avoid individuals approaching you. Find out more on popular scams in Paris in our Is Paris Safe guide.

Is It a Good Place to Stay in Paris?

Yes! Montmartre generally has a very authentic Parisian feel despite the high density of tourists. It’s still very central and you can easily walk down the Seine and explore other areas of the city. I would say that, depending on where you’re staying, as it’s on a hill, you will be walking up and down a lot.

How to Get There

You can get to Montmartre by metro on Line 2 which serves the stations at the bottom of Montmartre (Pigalle, Anvers and Blanche). You can also skip a lot of the stair cases by taking Line 12 which goes to Abbesses – this is the most central metro station in Montmartre.

How to Get to Montmartre from the Eiffel Tower

Getting to the Montmartre from the Eiffel Tower isn’t the most straight forward and by public transport the quickest route takes around 40 minutes.

By Bus: The Bus 30 goes directly from the Eiffel Tower to Pigalle. It stops just opposite on the river side, on the Pont d’Iéna. Note that you’ll need to have a travel pass or you can buy a single one way ticket with cash.

By Metro: You can take Line 6 from Bir-Hakeim and then change for Line 2 at Charles de Gaulle – Étoile. The walk to Bir-Hakeim takes around 10 minutes from the tower itself and then the metro ride takes around 20 minutes. You can get off either at Pigalle or Anvers and walk up.

Montmartre Wine Festival

Every year there’s a wine festival (the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) which takes place in mid October. The festival celebrates the annual wine harvest from Montmartre’s vineyard and has become a huge event bringing in wine lovers from across the city. It’s on my favourite food and drink events in the year and it’s a must-do if you’re around in October! Click here to find out more about the festival.

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