Walk 28: Paris, Montmartre Area: A quick ‘Can-Can’ around the streets

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Difficult to say, roughly 3 miles (4.82km)

Time to walk: This isn’t a walk that you can put a time limit on as there’s churches to visit, artists to stand & watch, cafes to eat, drink & watch the world go by in, architecture, history & so much more. It’s worth spending at least half a day in the beautiful area of Paris, but you could easily take longer

Difficulty: All on hard paths & streets. Montmartre is quite hilly & there are several flights of steep steps & cobbles to negotiate, but take your time, this isn’t a walk to be rushed

Parking: Not applicable – our walk starts from Metro Station ‘Lamarck – Causaincourt’ which is on Line 12 (the dark green one on the Metro Maps)

Public toilets: Cafes & bars en route

Map of the route: map

So what can we tell you about Montmartre?

Montmartre is situated in the north of Paris on its highest hill, 130 metres high. The word ‘Montmartre’ means “mountain of the martyr” & comes from the martyrdom of Saint Denis – the Bishop of Paris – who was beheaded  on top of the hill in 250 AD

This area also became synonymous with artists who either lived or worked in Montmartre. Pissarro & Jongkind were two of the first to live there, followed by such greats as Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec (who immortalised the cabarets here in the late 19th century), Pierre-Auguste Renoir, & Pablo Picasso. Even today an arty vibe lives on thanks to the upwardly-mobile film, music & media types that have moved in

Gone are the days when Montmartre was a tranquil village packed with vines & windmills, although two ‘moulins’ (windmills) & a small patch of vines do still exist (as we’ll see). Today the area is tightly packed with houses, spiralling round the mound below the sugary-white dome of the Sacré-Coeur. Despite the thronging tourists it remains the most unabashedly romantic part of Paris, a place in which to climb quiet stairways, peer down narrow alleys onto ivy-clad houses & watch the world go by in atmospheric cafés

So…ready to go & explore?

Let’s Walk!

1. As we mentioned, our walk starts from the Metro Station Lamarck – Causaincourt. This is the ‘non-commercial’ side to approach Montmartre from, away from all the tourists, pickpockets & pestering street sellers…


Steps are a famous sight in Montmartre & this is the first of several climbs we’ll have today

2. At the top we arrive at the busy Rue Caulaincourt which we need to cross…


…to arrive at the entrance to Place Constantin Pecqueur which also contains le Square Joel Le Tac…


Constantin Pecqueur was a French economist, socialist theoretician & politician. He participated in the Revolution of 1848 and influenced Karl Marx

3. Head through the Square & climb the next set of steps…


Nice touch

Nice touch

…to arrive at another famous area…Place Dalida


4. Since her suicide in 1987, Dalida (born in Egypt) has become something of a cult figure in France.

Yolanda Cristina Gigliotti (17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), best known as Dalida, was an Italian-French singer & actress who performed & recorded in more than 10 languages including Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, French, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch & Spanish. In 1961 she acquired French citizenship upon marriage, while maintaining her original Egyptian & Italian ones

Dalida Dalida, ranks among the six most popular singers in the world. Her sales figures today would amount to more than 170 million albums worldwide. Twice honored with “The World Oscar of Success of the Disc”, she is the only European singer to have won this Oscar at least once. Her 30 year career started in 1956 & ended with her last album in 1986, a few months before her death. She received 70 gold records & was the first singer to receive a diamond disc

If you fancy a listen click on this link

In 1997 a large bust of her was erected where we are now. As can be seen from our photo below, it often gets defaced plus guess which parts of the statue are meant to bring you good luck if you stroke them…


5. Also in this Square’s the Chateau des Brouillards (Mists), a longtime home of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The 18th century stone house was also the childhood home of famed filmmaker Jean Renoir, the painter’s second son….


6. Turning left it’s now time to walk up one of Monmartre’s & Paris’ most beautiful streets…Rue de l’Aubrevoir…


The most famous place on the hill is Maison Rose, but the rest of the buildings are quite charming too…



IMG_62817. At the corner on the left is La Maison Rose, one of Montmartre’s most famous restaurants. It’s less crowded & less expensive than the tourist restaurants higher up the hill & you can sit in seats frequented by all the old artists…



It was immortalised by French painter Maurice Utrillo who is famous for his paintings of the houses & streets of Montmartre…


8. The view down the hill from the crossroads shows how high we are & we’ve still got a bit to go to get to the top!


But before we go down there let’s just cross straight over to have a quick look at the Musee de Montmartre


The view's worth the walk alone...

The view’s worth the walk alone…


The museum is housed in buildings three centuries old, the Hotel Demarne & the Maison du Bel Air. It was home to many famous artists & writers such as Renoir who painted his celebrated La Balançoire & Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette here in 1876. The collections of the museum belong to the association, Le Vieux Montmartre, created in 1886, & contains paintings, photographs, posters & manuscripts that depict the history of the neighbourhood, its effervescence, the bohème & cabarets from the 19th & 20th centuries



La Balançoire

La Balançoire

La Balançoire & Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette

La Balançoire & Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette

9. To continue our walk we need to head back down the hill to the crossroads…

IMG_6297…& turn right down Rue des Saules where, on the right, we find Montmartre’s own vineyard, Le Clos Montmartre…

The view through the fence

The view through the fence


Vineyards once covered Butte Montmartre & wine production continued from the 12th century by a Benedictine Abbey to the early 20th century until the crops were destroyed by a bout of phylloxera

You won’t find Montmartre wines in restaurants or bottle shops as it’s auctioned every year with the proceeds going to charity. As for the wine itself, it’s not known to be that drinkable. According to a popular 17th century saying, it has diuretic properties…

“C’est du vin de Montmartre
Qui en boit pinte en pisse quarte”

“The wine of Montmartre
Whoever drinks a pint pisses a quart!”

There’s a better view from the next junction with Rue Saint-Vincent…


10. Also on this corner’s another famous Paris institution. You can’t miss it, it’s called Au Lapin Agile



Au Lapin Agile is the oldest bar/cabaret in Paris founded in 1860

It was originally called “Cabaret des Assassins”. Tradition relates that this was because a band of assassins broke in & killed the owner’s son

In 1875, the artist Andre Gill painted the sign that was to suggest its permanent name. It was a picture of a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan, & residents renamed the night-club “Le Lapin à Gill,” meaning “Gill’s rabbit”


Over time, the name evolved into “Cabaret Au Lapin Agile,” or the Nimble Rabbit Cabaret. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Lapin Agile was a favorite spot for struggling artists & writers, including Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, & Utrillo

Picasso painted Au Lapin Agile & gave the painting to the bar owners who sold it in 1920 for US $20. It was auctioned by Southerby’s in 1989 for US $42 million


Today people visit the Lapin Agile, sitting at wooden tables where initials have been carved into the surfaces for decades…




11. Right ‘can-can’ over let’s now head up Rue Saint-Vincent keeping the vineyard on our right…


On the right’s some more steps – we don’t need to go up these, but see an opportunity for an ‘arty’ shot…


The French Banksy?

The French Banksy?

It was at this point that we caught our first glimpse of the small train that takes people up to Sacre Coeur if they don’t fancy the climb…


12. Okay so we confess…we climbed the steps in error so back down & continue along to the end of Rue Saint-Vincent where there’s rather a peaceful little park with great views over the city – Parc Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The terraced park occupies the site of the Turlure mill which stood here from 1770 to about 1830. Indeed until 2004 the garden was called Parc de la Turlure

Enter by the gate in the corner & wander up to the top to exit next to Sacre Coeur…



13. Sacre Coeur’s impressive, even from this reverse angle, but to get the best view & also have a look inside we need to follow the road round the right hand side…


…& there’s some entertainment happening on the steps…


Click on this link for a quick clip…http://youtu.be/gB8PlIyfeLU

14. So from starting our walk to approach Montmartre from the ‘quiet’ side we now join the masses that have walked up from the popular side & boy is it busy!!




15. Sacre Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is rumoured to be the resting place of the heart of Jesus. Designed by Paul Abadie, Construction began in 1875 & was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919

The interior is simply stunning, but it’s not permitted to take photographs so we’ve included a couple we found elsewhere…




16. Back outside it’s time to stand & admire the Paris skyline…



Plus there was a guy up a lamppost doing amazing keepie-uppies – keep your hand on your valuables whilst you’re watching though…



Click on the link, watch & be amazed..

17. Our route away from Sacre Coeur lies down the first set of steps at the front & then right along the street passing the funicular


If you fancy dropping down to have a look at the Moulin Rouge then it’s literally straight down the hill. Much better to go at night though when it’s all lit up…

The cobbled road then bends right up the hill past another little park on the right that has benches to sit on & admire the views across to the Eifel Tower





18. At the top of this street we’re into one of the most famous (& busiest) areas of Montmartre, but before we go there we need to have a look at the church on the right…


Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre is one of the oldest churches in Paris. Consecrated in 1147, it was built on the site of a 3rd century chapel consecrated to Saint Demis, the first Bishop of Paris, who was beheaded by the Romans in AD250. According to legend he carried his own head to his grave & there’s a statue inside of him doing this

19. The inside of the church is in stark contrast to the splendour of Sacre Coeur, but when we visited the sun was streaming through the stain-glass windows creating magnificent reflections…







20. On the way in we’d noticed a strange looking contraption in the courtyard…

What could it be on this cold New Year's Eve Day?

What could it be on this cold New Year’s Eve Day?

Ah…ha…& at €3 per glass it would be rude not to…


21. In the immediate Square outside the Church gates are several bars & restaurants. They all look lovely, but beware you’ll pay a premium…




22. Ready to see one of Paris’ most famous Squares that you seen many pictures of before? Then let’s pass through the gap above (opposite the Church) into the Place du Tertre

This is the Square famous for artists & there are hundreds of them trying to take your hard earned cash, whilst competing with more bars & restaurants…




Want your picture drawn? Just take a seat…






23. We exit the hoards through the South West corner of the Square, diagonally opposite where we entered it…


…but turn right before the steps into Rue Polbiot…


…& on the right here’s the Espace Dali Montmartre (the Dali Museum)


24. The Espace Dali Montmartre contains over 300 works by the artist, but these are mainly sculptures & sketches & you won’t  find any of his classic paintings here so save your euros…




25. We follow Rue Polbiot down round the corner & up the hill to the junction with Rue Norvins…

IMG_6414There’s a restaurant on the right here with some strange staff waiting to welcome you inside…





26. This is another lovely little Square…




27. Turning left from where we came we cross the road & head down Rue Norvins…

IMG_6439Until on the right we reach Place Marcel Ayme which is home to a famous statue by Jean Marais


It depicts “The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls” penned by Marcel Ayme in 1943. Touching his left hand is believed to transfer some of his magical ability to you


28. It’s time now to have a look at one of the few remaining windmills in Montmartre, so turn left down Rue Girardon where we find Moulin de la Galette





There used to be 14 mills on the Butte Montmartre which milled wheat, pressed grapes or were simply used for crushing

In the 19th century the owners, the Debray family, made a brown bread, ‘galette’, which became popular, hence the name of the windmill. Le Moulin de la Galette also housed a restaurant & dancehall. Artists, such as Renoir, Van Gogh & Pissarro have all painted Le Moulin de la Galette, the most famous being Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’. Today it’s a private property with a bistro underneath…

29. Our route now lies left at the junction & then immediately right down the narrow alley Rue d’Orchampt, where there’s some ‘interesting’ art on the walls…






30. At the end the road opens out more & bends left – on the right is a house that Dalida once lived in…



We’re now starting to move progressively downhill & at the next junction turn immediately right into Place Emile Goudreau…




31. Place Emile Goudreau is home to Le Bateau Lavoir….


Rebuilt after a fire gutted the building in 1970, Le Bateau Lavoir (Boat Laundry) is known as the ‘cradle of Cubism‘. Formerly a piano factory, the building was divided into a number of studios in the 1890’s. Picasso lived there between 1904-1912, during which time he painted ‘The Third Rose’ & ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’

32. Fancy a quick coffee – well, if it’s warm enough, there’s a nice little cafe on the left (the menu was pretty good as well)…


Snails anyone?

Snails anyone?

Walking down the steps past the cafe we turn left onto Rue Des Trois Freres & then immediately right down Passage des Abbesses where there’s more steps to negotiate…




33. At the bottom pass through an archway into the main street…



…& then turn left heading towards Place des Abbesses. Before heading into the Place there’s another church over the road that’s worth a quick look at…


34. Church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre is the first example of the use of reinforced cement in church construction. Built between 1894 – 1904 & designed by architect Anatole de Baudot, the church exhibits features of Art Nouveau design

It certainly is different to anything else we’d seen recently…





The windows are also Art Nouveau…



35. Coming out of the Church cross into the Place des Abbesses which is still very much in Christmas Market mode…






36. The Square contains a couple of interesting things

The first’s a small area called Square Jean Rictus…


What are all the people above looking at?

Well it’s called Le Mur des J’T’Aimes (The ‘I Love You Wall’. People come here to read the 311 versions of ‘I Love You’ written in 250 languages – there’s plenty of benches to sit & see how many languages you can recognise



The second point of interest is what marks the end of our walk…the Abbesses Metro Station…



It’s one of only two remaining Art Nouveau stations designed by Hector Guimard in Paris – the other is at Porte Dauphine

So that’s the end of our New Year’s Eve afternoon walk around beautiful Montmartre. It was our first visit & we would certainly return as there’s so many other small alleyways etc to explore that are off the main streets

We ate baguettes that we’d bought from a bakery earlier on the move, but if you want to stop & eat en route then this is easily a full day

So if you never experienced Montmartre do visit the next time your in Paris – it lives up to its reputation

Go Walk!


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