Taking a walk around Montmartre, will leave you with little doubt as to why the area was so popular with artists. With its picturesque, cobblestoned streets, magnificent views, and village-like ambience, Montmartre hasn’t changed much since artists flocked here at the turn of the last century. Even if the nightlife has moved on down the hill, the beautiful settings remain. A walk along the boulevard de Clichy will reveal what remains of the underbelly of this cosmopolitan area which intersects the village of Montmartre with SoPI (South of Pigalle). Standing out among the tacky sex shops of boulevard de Clichy, the iconic Moulin Rouge is immediately identifiable -- at night its gaudy neon lights beckon tourists to the non-stop cabaret shows. Just to the right of the Moulin Rouge stands rue Lepic, one of the main arteries that brings visitors directly up the hill and past Les Deux Moulins Café – the famous café that featured in the film Amelie Poulin. Further up the street an intersection brings the stroller onto the charming and relatively local, rue des Abbesses, which is flanked with cafés, restaurants and chic boutiques. Take a left and carry on up rue Lepic as it winds lazily up the hill.
A short, somewhat strenuous, uphill walk will be rewarded with a very odd sight: one of the last functioning windmills, which dates from the 19th century. Named the Moulin de la Galette, because of the buck-wheat galettes (pancakes) served to its working class customers during the early 19th century, this dance hall topped with its famous wooden windmill, can be seen on the corner of rue Lepic and rue Girardon. It became a popular dance hall around 1895, attracting many of the area’s artists and denizens. Famously, it has been immortalized in paint by some of the greats: August Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec all paid homage to their favourite watering hole.
Continue on up the street and take the second left onto rue des Saules, a little down this street you will find something really special: the last remaining vineyard in Montmartre — Clos Montmartre. Just in front of the Vineyard, on the corner of the street is the Au Lapin Agile, another famous cabaret frequented by artists. Walk back along this street and take the first left onto rue Cortot. This charming street is home to the Musée de Montmartre, and as the plaque on the outside proudly states, it was home to many of the area’s famous artists: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy and Émile Bernard are just a few of the famous names who lived in this postcard-perfect setting. Continue on down this street and take another left, which will bring you to the magnificent basilica of Sacre Coeur. It’s from here you will be able to take in unspoiled views of the city.
Montmartre Museum, 12 rue Cortot
This beautiful 17th century mansion at the top of the hill is an excellent place to learn about the history of the area. Artworks displayed in the house by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani attest to the house's past as the centre of bohemian life. Exhibits explain in detail the history of the area and its famous cabarets. Former residents include the painters Auguste Renoir and Émile Bernard. The house overlooks, a must-see: the last remaining vineyard in the area. On the same street, a few doors down, a plaque on one of the houses attests to the fact that the composer Erik Satie once lived on the street.
Dali Museum, 11 rue Poulbot
This well placed museum (just off the place du Tertre) has a collection of over 300 works in sculpture and drawing by the one of the most prolific exponents of surrealist art.
Atelier de Picasso, 49 rue Gabrielle
Another home to Picasso during his bohemian Montmartre years.
Place du Tertre
Best avoided — unless you are one of those people who insist on having a portrait drawn by one of the square’s many artists, in a Disneyland-esque setting. We won’t judge you if you do.
Bateau-Lavoir, 13 Place Émile-Goudeau
The source (and inspiration?) of many of the great artworks of the 20th century. Pablo Picasso painted the formidable Les Demoiselles d’Avignon here in 1907, which marked the beginning of Cubism. Other notables who worked and resided here were Paul Gauguin, Constantin Brancusi, Modigliani, and Kees van Dongen
Montmartre Cemetery, Avenue Rachel
Less famous than Père Lachaise but not less beautiful, Montmartre Cemetery is a 19th century hideaway which offers a romantic stroll in among its rows of phone box-like tombs. Edgar Degas, Berlioz, and Stendhal are just some of the notables laid to rest in this august plot of sacred land nestled incongruously in among the sex shops and nightclubs of Pigalle and Montmartre.
Far from the tourist traps Montmartre has a few hidden gems that are worth the detour.
Hotel Particulier, Pavilion D, 23 Avenue Junot Dinner is served in the garden (weather permitting) or in the lushly decorated dining room of this charming hide-away.
Miroir, 94 rue des Martyrs. This neo-bistro in the heart of Abbesses is a favourite with many of the chic locals. There is a sister wine bar just across the road.
Le Bal Café, 6 Impasse de la Défence. The English chef working behind the scenes at Le Bal reputedly cut her teeth at the lauded St.John Bread & Wine Restaurant in London. It’s no wonder, then, that this modern gallery-cum-restaurant is packed for brunch on a Sunday afternoon.
Chéri Bibi, 15 rue André del Sartre this little restaurant proposes traditional French fair at reasonable prices. The fact that all of the odd pieces furniture have been found at flea markets gives this place a boho charm that fits in quite well with the whole Montmartre scene.
Le Petit Trianon, 80 boulevard de Rochechouart. This new café was opened by the owners of the Trianon (the concert hall next door). It is more a place to be seen in rather than for it’s menu, never-the-less, it beats many of the touristy restaurants hands-down for décor, ambiance and food.
Unfortunately, the days of the Moulin de la Galette are long gone (you can, however, eat a very expensive meal there). That being said, great places to dance the night away are not too hard to find − much of the action has moved southwards to the boulevard de Cliché and around Pigalle or SoPi − as it is known to some. True to its past reputation, some of the best concert halls can be found in this area.
Rue des Abbesses
The cafés that line the rue des Abbesses are ideal for an aperitif, especially since their terraces are the perfect spots from which to watch the locals as they traipse nonchalantly along the street in full evening regalia.
Le Moulin Rouge, 82 boulevard de Clichy
A must for visitors to the city, the Moulin Rouge offers up a spectacle that’s big on glam & glitter. Preferable for those with their tongue placed firmly in their cheek.
La Fourmi, 72 rue des Martyrs
This cavernous bar situated on the corner of rue des Martyrs and boulevard de Rochechouart welcomes the neighbourhood’s hipsters, tourists, and locals for inexpensive beers and burgers. Its long street frontage means you can get a view of the action from both inside the bar and outside on its terrace.
La Cigale, 120 boulevard de Rochechouart
Just beside La Fourmi, you will find one of Paris’ premier concert venues, La Cigale. The venue hosts rock, indie and electronic music acts. Check out the progamme.
Le Trianon, 80 boulevard de Rochechouart
This spectacular venue in the Belle Époque style is another destination for music lovers. Recently the venue has opened a café, which has been particularly popular with the area’s young and trendy. Check out the programme.
Au Progès, 7 rue des 3 Frères
An authentic Montmartre bar; this is a great place to sit with friends and discuss the meaning of life over a glass of wine (or two).
Le Louxor Cinema, 170 boulevard de Magenta
The Louxor Cinema is housed in an incredible art-deco building in the Egyptian style. It has been recently restored to its former glory and reopened by the Paris Town Hall after lying derelict for over 30 years. Films are shown in their original language, and they prioritize art-house and independent film.
Romain was AMAZING!!! I will 100% be recommending him to our friends! Our Louvre tour was one of my kids favorite things we did and they said it was because of Romain.
Highly recommend. Private tour is a great way to get more personalized insights on Paris history. Guide was very knowledgeable. Will definitely use again.
We have done several tours with Localers and they are definitely worth the money! We are pretty independent travelers, but there is no substitute for local knowledge. Localers has the best guides!
I did 2 tours with Localers and would enthusiastically do more when I return to Paris. The main reason is the quality of the tours themselves, the fact they are authentic experiences, and you learn so much!
Browse our homemade tours run by local experts
Book your tours online
Receive your online confirmation
Discover Europe like an insider