Discovering the magic of Montmartre

Discovering the magic of Montmartre

Montmartre is the charming artistic area of Paris where famous artists like Renoir, Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh lived. Also the fictional favourite Amélie.

I went on the Sandeman walking tour of the area and explored it a bit by myself for a day while on a solo trip in Paris for a weekend. Here’s what I loved and would recommend in Montmartre:

Visit the Sacré-Cœur

Montmartre is at the top of the hill of the neighbourhood, which happens to be the highest point in Paris. Getting to the top will require some step climbing (or taking a little cableway), but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views and one of the most beautiful Basilicas in France. It’s free to enter the Sacré-Cœur and if you’re so inclined you can even attend mass here. The view is particularly magnificent at sunset, so buy a baguette and a bottle of wine and make an evening of it.

Discovering the magic of Montmartre in Paris

Try a Paris-Brest from Pain Pain

The Paris-Brest is a heavenly French pastry that’s beautiful, delicate and subtle but also rich enough that you’ll only want one. It’s made with choux pastry and praline flavoured cream that tastes like a hazelnut-cream flavoured little cloud. The Pain Pain bakery’s fonts will lure you in, and luckily they have the pastries, coffee and fresh baguettes to back up the hip exterior. Just be warned this place is very French and you should probably have the correct change when you’re headed for the till.

Explore the Place du Tertre

The artistic square of Place du Terte is lined with artists sketching customers and it’s an inspiring site to see. It’s a competitive business, so all the artists are really good and have something unique to offer. This could be perceived as a bit of a tourist trap as the souvenir shops here are more expensive than the usual shops, but if you keep your wits about you and know what you’re in for you’ll have a great time. You could even have your sketch done and take home a special souvenir that will always remind you of your day in Paris.

Discovering the magic of Montmartre in Paris

Appreciate the street art

You’ll find quirky, crazy as well as beautiful street art all around on the walls of Montmartre. There are even some famous graffiti artists who have made their mark, like Banksy who painted one of his famous rats on the walls of Montmartre. Fun fact: Banksy’s rats are largely inspired by French street artist Blek le Rat and rat is an anagram for art.

Discovering the magic of Montmartre in Paris

Say ‘Bonjour’ to Dalida

The Italian-French-Egyptian singer Dalida was one of the most famous artists in France in the 1960s and 1970s and she owned a castle-like home in Montmartre. There’s a statue of Dalida, or rather Yolanda Gigliotti, that you can rub for good luck. In true Parisian style, you rub her breasts instead of her nose for good fortune.

Dalida in Montemartre in Paris by Estee de Villiers

Just go ahead and enjoy a crepe

When in Rome you should eat gelato, and when in Paris you should definitely eat a crepe. Even if it’s slightly pricey, it will probably be the best crepe of your whole entire life. I had one with a generous amount of Nutella, served hot and delicious. It was magnificent!

Discovering the magic of Montmartre in Paris

Go to Amelié’s restaurant

The restaurant where Amélie Poulain worked, ‘Cafe des Deux Moulins’ is still operational to this day, so you can stop by for a coffee and crème brûlée and say hi to the gnome in the bathroom. Apparently, the owner was reluctant to have the film shot in his restaurant, but luckily Amélie went on to become one of the most successful French films of all time, so it all worked out. You can have a reasonably priced coffee or meal here and there are a few sweet touches to remind you of Amélie. It’s bound to make any fan of the film feel right at home.

Discovering the magic of Montmartre in Paris

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