My whole life, I dreamt of Paris. The image I created in my mind was quite romanticized. I pictured winding cobblestone streets where artists came to paint. I dreamed of picturesque cafes. Paris did not disappoint. However, it didn’t quite match my overly romanticized expectation. That is, until I made my way to the Montmartre district. On both my trips to Paris, I was blown away by Montmartre. While touristy, Montmartre has the feeling of being untouched. Walking through the Montmartre district feels like walking through a black and white film of Paris. There is something special about this area, an atmosphere that you will not find in other areas of the city. If you’re looking to see another side of Paris, check out the best things to do in Montmartre.
Things to Do In Montmartre District
Visiting the Sacré-Coeur is one of the top things to do in Montmartre. Sacré-Coeur, also known as Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is a Roman Catholic Basilica. This stark white church is almost impossible to miss, as it sits atop a hill in Montmartre. The Sacré-Coeur is actually the second most visited church in Paris, after the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Entry into the Sacré-Coeur is free of charge. I suggest taking a quick look inside to greater appreciate the Romano-Byzantine architecture of this cathedral.
The exterior of the Sacré-Coeur is very impressive and can be viewed from multiple angles. Take your time to walk around the exterior of the cathedral to take it in. I suggest walking down the Sacré-Coeur stairs in order to see the entirety of the cathedral. The view from Square Louise-Michel, at the bottom of the stairs offers an amazing Sacré-Coeur view. Additionally, Square Louise-Michel is where you will find the Montmartre carousel.
Be aware that the string and bracelet scam is extremely frequent on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur. Be alert of your surroundings and hold on to your belongings at all time. And don’t fall for this scam. These scammers can be very persistent. I even had one try to forcefully tie the ‘string bracelet’ around my wrist.
If you’re looking to learn more about the Sacré-Coeur, check availability for guided tours.
Located at the base of the Sacré-Coeur, in the Place St-Pierre, is the Montmartre Carousel. The Montmartre carousel is one of the oldest in Paris and is worth stopping by on your way to Sacré-Coeur.
The Sacré-Coeur view is one of the most impressive views in all of Paris. From the Sacré-Coeur balcony, you can see all of Paris in the distance. This view allows you to see Parisian rooftops, iconic landmarks such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral and even the modern part of the city in the distance.
Place du Tertre – Montmartre Artists
Place du Tertre is a square only a few street from Sacré-Coeur and is where you will find the Montmartre artists. Historically, Montmartre has been home to many notable artists, including Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. Now these Montmartre artists set up shop in the Place du Tertre. The only kind of art allowed on the Place du Tertre are paintings. These paintings are typically Parisian scenes. However, many of the artists paint portraits. These Montmartre artists will try to smooth talk you into sitting for a portrait for them. They feel less like street hawkers and more like charmers. It is quite flattering to be asked to sit for a portrait, even though you know they are asking everyone. Even if you don’t get your portrait painted, visiting this square is one of the top things to do in Montmartre.
The Montmartre windmill, Moulin de la Galette was built in 1622. At one point, Montmartre was a rural area before it became a part of Paris. During that time, mills were used to grind flour and to press grapes from the nearby vineyards. The remaining Montmartre windmills play a role in showcasing the history of the area.
Mur des Je t’aime
The Mur des Je t’aime, aka the “I love you wall” is a must see if you are a huge romantic. This wall displays the word “I love you” in over 250 languages. While it is just a wall, the Mur de Je t’aime is perhaps the cutest piece of public art I have ever seen.
The Sinking House
The sinking house is actually an optical illusion. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you may miss it. This house isn’t actually sinking. Rather is is a clever camera trick to create the optical illusion that this house is sinking. The sinking house is located in near the Sacré-Coeur. If you are walking up the steps to the Sacré-Coeur, you will see the sinking house to your right. All you have to do is angle your camera and voilà, you have a sinking house.
The Passe-Muraille (Walker-Through-Walls)
The Passe-Muraille, known as the Walker-Through-Walls, is another public art instillation in the Montmartre district. This instillation is inspired by a book written by Marcel Aymé, “Le Passe Muraille”, about a guy who could walk through walls. When I saw this instillation on my first trip to Paris, I was a bit confused by its infamy. But it’s certainly worth stopping by.
Moulin Rouge in the most famous cabaret show in Paris. While Moulin Rouge is technically located in Pigalle, this cabaret is mostly grouped together with things to do in Montmartre. Seeing a show at Moulin Rouge would be a bucket list thing to do in Paris. Check out showtimes and availability for when you’re in Paris!
Walking Tour in Montmartre
In order to do the best things to do in Montmartre, I suggest taking a walking tour in Montmartre. On my first trip to Paris, I had a tour guide who gave us a walking tour in Montmartre. And on my most recent trip, a friend showed me around the area. Having a guide allows you to make the most of your time, without missing any of the main sites. There are free walking tours available in the area. However, if you would like an in depth tour, I suggest booking a walking tour in Montmartre.
The Hidden Montmartre Cultural Tour allows you to see the best things to do in Montmartre. Rather than just fumbling around the area, seeing these top sites on your own, the tour guide will give you back ground information of everything you are seeing. This tour will additionally bring you to hidden spots that only a local expert knows! Click here to check reviews and availability!
Is there a better way to see an area than eating your way around it? I think not! Seriously, hitting myself for not knowing this tour existed until now. Next time I am in Paris I will definitely book this tour! Click here to check reviews and availability of the 3 Hour Cheese, Wine and Pastry Tour.
Montmartre is home to some of the most Instagrammable cafes in Paris. These Montmartre cafes are scattered around the Montmartre district. Whether you are stopping for a coffee or just to enjoy the adorable facades, these are some Montmartre cafes that you can’t miss.
La Maison Rose
La Maison Rose is a must-see when visiting Montmartre. This Montmartre cafe has been in operation for over a century, with artists like Picasso frequenting the establishment.
Le Consulat is another Montmartre staple. This cafe is located within a quick walk of Sacré-Coeur and is one of the most iconic sites in the area.
This Montmartre cafe is located in the Place du Tertre and is the perfect spot to grab a coffee and watch the artists at work.
Hardware Société is the only cafe I stopped at for food (not just coffee and photos) and it has one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. This cafe is more modern than the others, yet it is not lacking in charm.
Getting To Montmartre
There are two main Montmartre metro stations, the Abbesses station (line 12) and the Anvers station (line 2). These two metro stations will bring you close to the things to do in Montmartre.
The Abbesses station (line 12) will let you out near the “I love you wall”. The Abbesses station is home to one of the only remaining Art Nouveau entrances in Paris, which makes it a thing to do in itself. An interesting fact is that the Abbesses station happens to be the deepest metro station in Paris. Prepare yourself for a lot of stairs to get out of the metro, or use the elevator. (I didn’t know this was the deepest metro and almost passed out when I arrived at this metro station after a long day exploring.)
The Anvers station (line 2) lets you out facing Sacré-Coeur. All you have to do is walk up a few blocks and through the Square Louise-Michel. Mind you, there are 222 steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur.
If you don’t want to make the long climb up Montmartre Hill, there is a Funiculaire de Montmartre, a cable car, which will bring you up the hill. A metro ticket is needed to take the Funiculaire de Montmartre.
While it may seem far, Montmartre is within walking distance to the rest of Paris. It takes an hour to walk from Sacré-Coeur to Notre-Dame Cathedral. That may seem like a long walk, but it really isn’t too bad. There is so much to see between those two points. As long as you’re not power walking from the Sacré-Coeur to Notre-Dame, then the walk won’t feel too bad. (I took the day walking from Montmartre to the Notre-Dame, making stops and detours along the way. Keep in mind, I really like walking. If you are not an avid walker or have limited time, I wouldn’t suggest making this walk).
Hotels in Montmartre Paris
If you are looking for hotels in Montmartre Paris, this guide has you covered!
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Paris Montmartre. I really enjoyed staying at this hotel as it is in the ideal location to explore the area. We woke up one morning at sunrise to take photos of Montmartre before it got overly crowded. It took us less than 15 minutes to walk to Sacré-Coeur. I tend to gravitate toward chain hotels when I travel because they offer consistent quality. Book now!
Tips Before You Visit
Steps in Montmartre
Most of Paris is relatively flat. However, Montmartre is certainly not flat. Montmartre is built on the highest point in Paris, which makes walking through this area quite the workout. Prepare yourself for an immense amount of steps and hills. Plan to wear comfy shoes for exploring this neighborhood.
You may be wondering by now, what is the correct Montmartre pronunciation. It is pronounced Mawn-mar-truh. Allow the name of this Parisian district to flow out of your mouth with confidence.