A perk of staying outside of central Paris was being a matter of minutes away from Montmarte, a hilly arrondissement that sits 130m above the city. We got to Paris around lunchtime so after exploring Pigalle, home to the Moulin Rouge (picture below), we ventured up through the winding Parisian streets to see what Montmarte had to offer. Honestly I wouldn’t change a thing about how we saw this part of Paris, so here’s a run down of what to do and when.
Get lost on the walk to the top
You can get the Funicular up, but if you’re able to walk instead then absolutely do. Some of the views down the long steep streets were completely worth the climb and it doesn’t take that long, especially because you’re so occupied by what’s around you. These kind of views aren’t what you’d expect to see in Paris just from walking around, as usually you have to be climbing the Eiffel Tower to get those panoramic shots.
Explore the Sacré-Cœur
Whether you’re into history or not, you can’t go to Montmarte and not visit the Sacré-Cœur. It’s pretty easy to find given it’s the highest point in the city, and this is where the tourists and touts tend to congregate. It’s right in the centre of it all too, so you’re never far from bars and restaurants. Plus, it’s free to enter and is the place to go for those postcard views across the city.
Wander the streets
There are so many stunning buildings (like this gorgeous pink one) and places to stop off for a drink if you need a break, so I’d really recommend exploring ‘off the beaten track’ if you have time. As two people who live for taking photos, we were happily occupied just wandering without a plan for a while.
Get dinner in the square
What’s a trip to France without a Croque-monsieur and a glass of wine? We’d already snacked on baguettes and pastries for lunch and needed to be careful with the budget on day one, so we shared a meal for dinner in the square before the restaurants got too busy. As much as I felt they didn’t appreciate us sharing food to cut costs, sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!
Get a crepe and watch the city come to life at night
And obviously, we had to save some of our euros for a Nutella crepe! These were the dream, so don’t skip the crepe experience when you’re there. There were tons of dessert places selling crepes and ice-cream everywhere in Paris, so you don’t have to go looking. There are plenty of view points for you to enjoy your crepe if you feel like taking the weight off your feet.
Get those panoramic city shots and see the Eiffel Tower at night
If you follow the path from the Sacré-Cœur down to where the Funicular is, on a clear day you’ll get a good view of the famous Eiffel Tower in the distance. We hung around for ages trying to get the perfect shot despite low cloud and freezing temperatures, but it’s worth it. How often do you get to take in that view?
If you go in winter, warm up with a vin chaud
As I said, it was freezing when we went in March, so getting a vin chaud for the walk back down was a wise decision. If you’re not in a rush, stick around for a few drinks in one of the bars. The atmosphere at night was great and if we hadn’t have been so tired from the early start, we would have stayed a bit longer.
I’m not sure I’d stay in Montmarte purely because if the hilly commute whenever you want to go into the centre of Paris, but spending an afternoon there is a must. Even if you just go for the view.