Montmartre is a charming hilltop neighbourhood in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, mostly known for being home to the Sacre Coeur, a Roman Catholic church that stands tall above the city. But there’s so much more to this quaint area than this major Parisian landmark. Famed for its sweeping views, pretty cobbled streets, cosy French bistros and arty, bohemian scene, Montmartre should be a stop on every backpackers bucket list (particularly if you want some good photos for the Gram). To explore it properly, we’ve created the ultimate guide so you know what to do when you go. These are the best things to do in Montmartre, Paris…
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Let’s start with the Sacre-Coeur, the second highest point in the city. This beautiful white-domed basilica is the main reason why most tourists visit Montmartre, not just to get a look at its majestic exterior - but also to climb to the top and get the best view of Paris. The Sacre-Coeur is located on a hill that stands 130m high. The views from the top of the bell tower are incredible, especially on a clear day. This is one of our favourite photo spots in the whole of Paris; just keep an eye out for pickpockets at the foot of the cathedral. You can also go inside the Sacre-Coeur and check out the incredible high ceilings - but just be respectful as you cannot not photos or film footage. Try and get there in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Where to Eat
This historic district is home to some brilliant French eateries that are away from the tourist track. Le Coq Rico is a local favourite, known for serving up some of the best poultry in Paris with an Alsation twist. While this restaurant is on the expensive side, it’s sure worth it if you have some space in your budget (especially if you like chicken, goose, guinea fowl, quail, turkey and duck).
If you’re looking for a French restaurant that’s more affordable, we recommend Sacrée Fleur or Le Jardin d’en Face. Both bistros are just minutes’ walk from the Sacre-Coeur serving up authentic French dishes that are good value for money. Sacrée Fleur is a cosy little restaurant where you can indulge in the tasty steak frites, tarte tatin, onion soup, frogs legs and French wine. Le Jardin d’en Face is a charming restaurant (cheaper than the other two) where you can try tartiflette, filet mignon, foie gras (pictured), crème brûlée and other tasty dishes. If you fancy some pizza, Babalou is our favourite pizzeria in the area with a warm, cosy atmosphere.
Where to drink and enjoy nightlife
One of the best kept secrets in Paris is a vineyard hidden away in Montmartre called Vignes du Clos Montmartre. If you’re a lover of wine, we highly recommend paying a trip to the amazing vineyard to sample some Parisian-made wine. This is one of the last remaining vineyards in the city, a place steeped in rich history - and while it may not be the best wine in France, it’s definitely an off-the-beaten-track attraction.
Marlusse et Lapin is an awesome bar that gets filled with locals at night. It’s also very Instagrammable since there’s a bathtub inside! Located on a pretty cobbled street not far from the Sacre Coeur, this a fun hang out for young Parisians. Pop in for a drink or two and enjoy a real local night out.
No Problemo is another great local bar tucked away on a small hidden street, away from the tourist track. Inside there’s live piano music and classic ‘chanson’ every Thursday evening.
Place du Tertre
Place du Tertre is in the centre of Montmartre located near the summit of the hill. It’s here where you’ll get to experience Montmartre’s arty, boho side. Once the stomping ground for artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh, this hilltop village was home to a strong artistic community due to the area's affordable living costs and cheap wine. Today, it’s no surprise that Place du Tertre is a hub of artists where you’ll find artists everywhere selling their canvases, paintings and offering portrait drawings. Just keep your guard up here as some of the artists can be quite pushy!
With a charming, village-feel, this lively square is where you’ll find bistros, cafes and cabaret.
Montmartre is home to several great museums that are worth checking out if you’re into culture. And since you’re in Paris’ artistic neighbourhood, it only makes sense to head to an authentic art museum. Le Halle Saint-Pierre is a museum, gallery and bookshop all in one. Hosting temporary and permanent exhibitions that showcase folk art, contemporary art and 30 works from the permanent collection of Naive Art by Max Fourny, there’s plenty inside to inspire you.
Other awesome museums in Montmartre include Espace Dalí, a permanent collection of art dedicated to Salvadore Dali.
Musée de Montmartre is one of our favourite museums to learn about the history of Montmartre and the artists who resided there during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Where to take the best photos
Montmartre is full of pretty streets and buildings that gives it its village-like charm so you only have to get a little lost to find some hidden gems. One of the most Instagrammable places in the area is La Maison Rose, a restaurant based in a small pink maisonette on the corner of Rue de l'Abreuvoir. This popular photo spot is like something out of an old French movie.
The Wall of Love at the foot of Montmartre next to Abbesses metro station is another great photo spot. The wall is dedicated to lovers all over the world, composed of 612 tiles of enamelled lava . On the tiles, the phrase ‘'I love you’ features 311 times in 250 languages.
Make your way to Moulin de la Galette, one of the last remaining mills on the hilltop for another good photo opportunity. The Renoir Gardens hidden behind the Montmartre Museum is also a great place for photos, where you can also get some space away from the touristy streets.
Then of course, there’s the view from the top of the Sacre Coeur which is always a winner.