If there’s one Parisian district I can’t get enough of, it’s Montmartre. Thanks to countless cobblestone alleys, quaint little eateries left, right and centre and real vintage stores where you can lose yourself for hours, walking around the 18th arrondissement of Paris is akin to stepping right back into the 1920s. Here’s your ultimate guide to 30+ best things to do in Montmartre, as well as what to see and do, where to eat, and where to stay!
Why you must visit Montmartre on your next trip to Paris
With its narrow cobbled lanes, secret passageways, and centuries-old houses, there’s a reason that the 18th arrondissement makes it to the top of everyone’s Paris bucket list. After all, one mooch around this whimsical neighbourhood and you’ll soon be falling in love with the charm of this former hilltop village.
After all, some of the best reasons to hang out in this district include the chance to sip on wine from one of the last working vineyards in the city limits, losing yourself in many a photogenic (read: Instagrammable) location, enjoying a picnic in one of Montmartre’s many parks, or simply soaking up all of the history. And if that hasn’t convinced you yet… Perhaps this magical Montmartre photo diary will!
A brief history of Montmartre
Montmartre wasn’t always part of Paris but actually a village in of itself. And you can tell. Unlike other areas of the city that were quickly swallowed by the rapidly growing population, Montmartre has lost none of its village charms. Truth be told, there are plenty of other hidden villages across Paris, of which a full guide to them can be found here.
In fact, perhaps one of the most fun facts about Montmartre is that, for a brief period in 1871, the area was not actually a part of Paris. During the Franco-Prussian War, residents of the village refused to accept the authority of the City of Paris, and so for three months, Montmartre wasn’t even a part of the French capital!
Whilst here, it’s easy to forget you’re in the very heart of Paris. Instead, it feels like you’re exploring a long-forgotten part of Brittany, or perhaps a small village in the south of France. After all, when it comes to the 18th arrondissement of Paris, there are plenty of hidden gems to uncover and offbeat locations to explore.
Traditionally a hangout for artists, writers, and other creatives like Renoir, Picasso, and Van Gogh to name but a few, over the past century life in Montmartre has grown increasingly popular. There are now cafés, boutiques, small startups and vintage stores around every corner and it’s the one place in Paris you definitely shouldn’t miss…
Best Things to do in Montmartre
#1 Visit the Sacré-Coeur Basilica
When you think of Montmartre, I’m betting one of the first things you’ll think of is the Sacré-Coeur. And you’re not wrong. From its humble beginning as a pagan place of worship, the basilica now towers above the rest of Paris, providing unbeatable views of the city and a quiet place to pray.
Contrary to popular belief, of all the churches, basilicas, and other ecclesiastical buildings in Paris, the basilique, as it is so-called in French is actually pretty modern in comparison. After all, the building was constructed from the beginning to the middle of the 20th-century.
What is perhaps most unique about the structure is that the basilica’s white stone has remained so pristine in the smog-filled city. The reason for this ‘pristineness‘ is due to the calcite in its stone from the nearby quarry of Château-Landon. Each time it rains, the calcite acts as a bleach, thus ensuring that the Sacre Coeur maintains its ‘silky cream’ look. To learn more about the Sacré-Coeur, consider booking this Sacré-Coeur tour.
Otherwise, there are a few things you should know before visiting the Sacré-Coeur! First of all, thanks to its status as one of the tops must-sees in Paris, the place can get pretty crowded pretty quickly. If you want to beat the crowds, then be sure to head there earlier in the day, and mid-week if possible. Next, for the best view of the city, you simply need to climb to the top of the dome! More details can be found here.
#2 Admire the Sinking House of Montmartre
If you look around enough, then you can find optical illusions in all parts of the city. But, without a doubt, it must be said that my favourite optical illusion in Paris is the Sinking House of Montmartre. I swear it took me around 23 visits to Montmartre in order to finally work out where this house lies! But now that I know the location of the topsy-turvy house, to be honest, I’m surprised I missed it so many times before!
To visit the sunken abode, walk up the main set of stairs that lead up to the parvis of the Sacré-Coeur. Once you’re on the last set of steps, turn to your right, tilt your camera, and voilá! For more directions, here’s your full guide to visiting Paris’ sinking house.
#3 Wander around the Museum of Montmartre and Renoir Gardens
Montmartre museum (otherwise known as Musée de Montmartre in French) may well be one of my favourites of all the small museums in the city of love. Situated at number 12 Rue Cortot, the museum was formerly a residence and meeting place for prominent artists such as Renoir, Bernard, and Valadon.
Founded as a museum in 1960, here you can find all sorts of paintings of Montmartre, as well as a history of the area and a glimpse of what the district would have been like when it was filled with farms and windmills rather than cafés and selfie stick-wielding tourists!
#4 Marvel at the last working vineyard in Paris (Clos de Montmartre)
Situated around the city are tiny, little, hidden vineyards. If you want to get a real taste of Provence, but stay in Paris, then heading to one of these miniature nature havens is your best bet. Founded in the 19th-century to prevent a plot of land in the heart of the 18th being transformed into a housing development, today Le Clos Montmartre is one of the prettiest vineyards of Paris.
Just behind the Musée de Montmartre, and above Le Lapin Agile, you’ll find the vineyard with the best view. In the summer the entire area hums with the sounds of insects and butterflies. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the centre of one of the most visited capital cities in the world…
#5 Visit Le Refuge Café for a Montmartre café experience
I swear I’d seen snaps of this cafe around 29572962 times on Instagram before I finally got a chance to see this iconic eatery for myself. Ironically, it was raining the day I visited and so drinking a coffee here provided a little bit of ‘refuge‘ from the rain (ha)! Little has changed in the interior of the café since the 1930s, making it the perfect place to enjoy a little bit of Montmartre nostalgia and easily one of the best cafés in Paris…
#6 Snap photos of La Maison Rose
La Maison Rose is the kind of place that you stop and think ‘wow’, I could stay here a while. In the summer, little chairs are placed outside the restaurant and you can eat in ‘plein air’. A meal here is a typical Montmartre experience; an iconic French meal surrounded by the sounds of a city going about its daily life.
At the same time, you get what you pay for and a meal here does not come cheap! Eateries further down the road will provide a more budget-friendly meal (but albeit with less atmosphere). La Maison Rose itself has been in operation for well over a century, with artists like Picasso frequenting the establishment during his day.
#7 Enjoy a coffee at Le Consulat coffee shop
Probably one of the most adorable cafés in Paris, you should check out le Consulat, even if it’s just to snap a quick photo! This cute brasserie is one of those places that has been here as long as Montmartre has been visited by tourists. Le Consulat is situated in the very heart of what was once ‘la Butte Montmartre’ and coffee here should definitely be on the cards…
#8 Enjoy Place Dalida
If there’s one place you should head to escape the crowds in Montmartre, make it Place Dalida. Situated on what is easily the cutest road in Paris, the square is named after famous singer Dalida, who made her home in Montmartre before her death and is now buried in the Montmartre cemetery. Oh, and the view up the road isn’t bad either (you can even see a little bit of the Sacré-Coeur peeking out from behind the buildings)!
Local Montmartre legend suggests that if you rub the breasts on the bronze statue to be found in Place Dalida, then you’ll soon find yourself lucky in love! Whatever the case, it’s also worth noting that nearby Square Suzanne Buisson is a quiet little hidden gem of Montmartre where you can truly escape the crowds and tourists.
#9 Embark on a walking tour of Montmartre
If you’re looking to get to know Paris, and more specifically the 18th arrondissement, on a more local level, then I recommend taking yourself on this free and self-guided Montmartre walking tour. Filled with all the usual Montmartre attractions, you’ll also discover plenty of lesser-known locations and where all the locals hang out.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a guided option, then there are several paid tours available. For example, for those in search of the best of romantic Montmartre, this romantic Paris Vintage Citroën 2CV Tour will show you the top highlights of the city from the comfort of a beautiful classic car.
#10 Go in search of Amelie filming locations
Of all the fun things to do in Montmartre, if you’re a movie buff and you’re looking for what to do in Montmartre, then look no further: the 18th arrondissement of Paris has been used as a filming location for many a movie over the years. However, most notably in recent years is the whimsical film of Amelie. Here’s your complete guide to Amelie filming locations in Montmartre!
#11 Scout out the lost windmills of Montmartre
Once upon a time, the hills surrounding Paris were filled with farmland, and the natural power of the wind was used to grind the grain that was produced there. Now, only a handful of the Parisian windmills remain, all of which are to be found in Montmartre. Though one is hidden from the road, that of Le Moulin de la Galette can still be spied from the roadside along Rue Lepic.
#12 Enjoy the Montmartre carousel
Wander around the City of Love for any length of time, and you’ll soon discover that there are plenty of stunning carousels to be spied, including that of Montmartre. Picture perfect and ideal to snap on a sunny day when the sky is blue and the Sacré-Coeur appears particularly splendid in the skyline, the Montmartre carousel is easily one of the best photo locations in Montmartre.
#13 Discover the Château des Lys of Montmartre
For a country that is so synonymous with Châteaux, it may come as a surprise to many people that Paris has very few (if any) Châteaux within its city limits. Though it may not look like much today, at one point larger mansion houses throughout the city were given the title ‘Château’.
Château des Lys can be found on the far side of Montmartre, away from the rest of Paris and has a history spanning well over three centuries. Now one of the oldest buildings in this area of the city, the building has been used as a donjon, and was even once in use as a dairy. Today, every evening, the building functions as a Club for Swingers (or so I read- we didn’t investigate for ourselves!)
#14 Follow in the footsteps of Picasso in Montmartre
It’s said that La Maison Rose (the iconic pink house you now see posted all over social media) was once frequented by Picasso himself as he was good friends with the owner… Nearby, other Picasso attractions in Montmartre include spying the Lapin Agile Cabaret (which he once painted) and strolling the cobbled lanes to catch a glimpse of the past.
#15 Follow in the footsteps of Renoir in Montmartre
Once upon a time, Auguste Renoir lived in the picturesque house that’s now the Musée de Montmartre. Now, you can retrace the impressionist’s footsteps through the 18th arrondissement by strolling the back streets and meandering through the Renoir Gardens behind the artist’s former home.
#16 Uncover the hidden gems of Montmartre
Between long-forgotten mansion houses, a water tower that still works and many a secret garden, there’s no shortage of hidden treasures and secret spots to uncover in Montmartre. Some of my favourite unusual things to do in the 18th arrondissement include the ever so hidden La Folie Sandrin and the Cimetière Saint Vincent.
#17 Watch artists at work in Place du Tertre
The beating heart of Montmartre is not the basilica, but a little square to be found a few hundred metres away. Traditionally, Place du Tertre is where all of the artists that paint en plein air are to be found. When visiting, make note of the fact that you’re not allowed to snap close-ups of the artwork on this square.
Also worth bearing in mind is the fact that most of the restaurants, brasseries, and bars in this square serve overpriced and pretty mediocre food! Head elsewhere for the best food to be found in Montmartre (read on further for the best Montmartre restaurant recommendations!)
#18 Relax in the park of Square Marcel-Bleustein-Blanchet
For one of the more unusual things to do in Montmartre, you simply need to carry on past the crowds of the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur and away from the artists of Place du Tertre. Square Marcel-Bleustein-Blanchet is where you can truly escape the crowds of Montmartre and enjoy the charm of this hilltop village all to yourself. Perfect for a picnic during the summer months, this little square is also a beautiful place in Montmartre to sit and read a book.
#19 Visit Le Mur des Je T’aime
Navy blue and famous the world over, Le Mur des Je T’aime literally translates to the ‘wall of I love yous’ and is the work of artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito. Covering a surface area of 40m² and comprised of well over 600 square tiles, the wall displays how to say ‘I love you’ in over 250 languages.
#20 Snap photos in Villa Leandre
English-inspired and dating all the way back to the 1920s, where the pretty and oh-so Instagrammable street of Villa Léandre is now to be found was once the site of a Parisian windmill. Today, the pretty art-deco villas are oh-so-photogenic and covered in trailing vines.
For a particularly humorous photo, be sure to head to #10. Once there, you’ll soon discover a small sign saying ‘Downing Street,’ after No. 10 Downing Street (aka headquarters of the UK government in England). This street is an impasse, meaning that you’ll have to come back out the way you wandered in!
#21 Spy the Lapin Agile
This world-famous cabaret of the Lapin Agile (literally translated as the ‘agile rabbit’) can be found close to the Clos Montmartre and not far from many of the pretty streets that give the arrondissement its village vibe (address: 22 Rue des Saules). Dating back to 1860, this cabaret has inspired many an artist over the years, including Picasso who painted a scene depicting the interior of the famous building in 1905.
#22 Scout out wisteria in Montmartre
Unlike the cherry blossom season in Paris, which seems to last for well over a month (often six weeks), the wisteria season of Paris is not a long one, merely lasting for a few weeks. Some of the best spots to enjoy the wisteria in Montmartre include along Rue de l’Abreuvoir and in Square Marcel Bleustein-Blanchett.
#23 Enjoy the sunset from the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur
Hands down, one of the best places to enjoy the sunset in Montmartre, and Paris in general, has got to be on the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur. From here, beneath the shadow of the Dome of the Sacré-Coeur, it’s possible to spy many of the most famous monuments that Paris is known for; Les Invalides, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower can all be spied.
#24 Eat fondue at Le Refuge des Fondus
I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again: one of the best date nights in Montmartre is to be had at Le Refuge des Fondus (address: 17 Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris). Here, there are only two choices on the menu: meat or vegetables with your fondue. Meanwhile, wine (red or white) is served by the [baby] bottle- yes, the wine quite literally is served in baby bottles!
#25 Visit the cemetery (Cimetière du Calvaire) that’s only open once a year!
Yes, you read that correctly! In the heart of Montmartre, there’s a churchyard that’s only open for one day a year. Somewhere between Place du Tertre and the Sacré-Coeur, one of the best hidden gems of Montmartre is to be found in the form of the Cimetière du Calvaire (address: 2 Rue du Mont-Cenis, 75018 Paris).
Only open on All Saint’s Day (i.e. the 1st of November), the smallest cemetery in Paris was opened in 1831 and was once part of a Monastery Complex that was largely destroyed during the French Revolution. Now, the little graveyard has just 85 graves and can be found hidden behind the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre.
#26 Paroisse Saint-Pierre de Montmartre
And while we’re on the subject of the church of Saint-Pierre, it’s well worth noting that this church is one of the best free things to do in Montmartre. After all, asides from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, this is the other of Montmartre’s two main churches. Dating back to the 12th-century, wander inside and prepare to be dazzled by a wide array of stained glass windows, stunning carvings, and an aura of calm.
#27 Visit the oldest street in Montmartre, rue Saint-Rustique
For those who are looking to be charmed by the history of the 18th arrondissement, there is perhaps no better place to visit than rue Saint-Rustique. Providing excellent views upon the Sacré-Coeur, during the 1970s, the street was officially designated a pedestrian walkway, making it the first road of its kind. Dating all the way back to the 15th-century, meander along here for a glimpse of Montmartre of old…
#28 In the Autumn, enjoy the fall foliage of Montmartre
When summer is over and the leaves begin to fall from the trees, there is perhaps no better time to stroll around the city and enjoy all of the pretty autumn colours around Montmartre. Some of the best spots to enjoy fall in the 18th arrondissement include along Place Dalida and at that Instagram famous Montmartre lamp post (exact address: close to the corner of Rue Saint-Vincent and Rue des Saules).
#29 Play hide and seek with the Sacré-Coeur
Thanks to the 18th district’s position of being set across many levels, there’s no shortage of stunning Sacré-Coeur views and viewpoints over Paris in general. Some of the best vistas to be found in Montmartre include along Rue Saint-Rustique and from Square Marcel-Bleustein-Blanchet. For a full run-down on the best places to play hide and seek with the basilica, check out my guide to the best Sacré-Coeur viewpoints.
#30 Enjoy traditional French cuisine in Le Petit Moulin Montmartre
Named for the windmills that once graced the hills surrounding Montmartre, Le Petit Moulin Montmartre is a traditional French bistro and wine bar on the fringes of old town Montmartre. Of particular note is the high quality cheese bar where you can pair a scrumptious fromage with a glass of wine from a family-owned vineyard or a beer from a local brewery.
#31 Step back in time at rue André Antoine
Learn all about the first theatre in Paris when you stroll along the pedestrian-only street of rue André Antoine. Named for André Antoine, the man was an actor, theatre manager, author, and film director. Once a gas utility clerk for the Paris Gas Utility company, he soon realised that his true passion lay in acting when he tried to produce a version of an Emile Zola novel while with an amateur theatre company.
#32 Ride on the Funiculaire de Montmartre
Asides from the grand steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur, another way to reach the basilica from the road below is via the funicular. One of the more unique things to do in Montmartre is to use a metro ticket to hop on the modern looking (though there’s been a tram of some kind or another here since the 13th of July 1900) Montmartre funicular and coast the rails to the top. Depositing you right on the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur, you’ll then be a mere hop, skip, and a jump away from the Basilica.
#33 Visit the Montmartre Cemetery
Located on the fringes of the old town part of the district, Montmartre Cemetery is quite literally hidden beneath a railway bridge. First founded as early as 1825, now the graveyard is one of the largest in Paris, third only to the Montparnasse Cemetery and that of Père Lachaise. People of note buried here include Alexandre Dumas (author of some of the most famous French literature of all time) and the iconic singer Dalida.
#34 Scout out Montmartre Instagram locations
Of course, between venturing into historical museums and perusing the many wares of the vendors of the most beautiful district in Paris, you’ll probably want to snap a few photos! For a full guide to photo locations in the City of Light, check out my Paris Instagram guide. Otherwise, some of the best and most Instagrammable locations in Montmartre can be found as follows;
La Maison Rose: Pretty as a postcard, if you’ve spent any time looking at photographs of Montmartre on Instagram, then no doubt you’ll have spied the uneven and asymetrical café on the corner of the road. Nearby rue Cortot is also well worth snapping photos of!
Place Dalida: For the best view of the Sacré-Coeur and a quintessential cobbled Montmartre lane, you simply must head to Place Dalida. Best visited in the early morning when the light is at its best, frame your shot with the large trees that share the cobbled square.
Square Marcel Bleustein-Blanchett: For that typical shot of the Montmartre lamppost in front of the Sacré-Coeur, you must head to this pretty square in the heart of the 18th-arrondissement. During the spring, you’ll also find a wisteria covered walkway here.
Things to see and do close to Montmartre
#35 Musée de la Vie Romantique
For those who are looking for romantic things to do in Paris, it doesn’t get much more charming than the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Located down a hidden away cobbled lane and housed in the former abode of the iconic writer, George Sand, this now museum was once frequented by the likes of Chopin and is now filled with romantic artworks.
#36 Moulin Rouge
Though iconic, one of the biggest Paris travel tips I could possibly give you is that whenever I’ve gone past the Moulin Rouge, it’s soon become apparent that the only people standing in front are largely tourists, clicking away with their cameras. Just as many of the shows in Las Vegas are catered towards visitors as opposed to residents, so are the shows at the Moulin Rouge. However, if you do still want to experience the Moulin Rouge, then here’s a tour for an Evening at Moulin Rouge with Drop Off Service.
#37 Explore the Canal Saint Martin district
Carrying on with the whimsical Amelie filming locations, next up is Canal Saint Martin! In the film, Amelie spends many a happy moment getting lost along the banks of the water and strolling around this picture perfect neighbourhood. Now forget the Seine, because this is where the locals really hang out…
Hip, trendy, and exuding an air of cool that’s seldom found elsewhere in the city, Canal Saint Martin is home to shops, bars, hotels, and plenty of pretty photo locations. For further insight into this must-see Parisian district (which is just a few stops away on the metro from Montmartre), check out my complete guide to Canal Saint Martin.
#38 Drop down to the Galeries Lafayette flagship store
Galeries Lafayette has been a firm fixture of the Parisian shopping scene since the early 20th-century. Thanks to its art-deco cupola and gorgeous Christmas tree each wintertime, it’s not just the boutique shopping experience that consistently draws in the crowds.
Instead, one of the best views of Paris can be found in the form of the free-to-visit Galeries Lafayette rooftop terrace. Open in daylight hours (apart from in adverse weather conditions), the panoramic terrace offers views over Parisian highlights such as the Opera Garnier, and of course, the Eiffel Tower.
#39 Admire the historic mansion of Villa Platanes
Steps away from the Moulin Rouge there’s plenty of other Parisian architecture worth discovering, if only you know where to look for it. For example, Villa Platanes is a grand mansion dating all the way back to the late 19th-century and the exact address is 58-60 Boulevard Clichy. Though this property is private, the beautiful villa façade can still be spied through the wrought iron gate along the street.
How to get to Montmartre and how to get around the 18th arrondissement
The easiest way to reach Montmartre from other parts of Paris is by metro. Two stations will deposit you at the butte (that’s base in English) of Montmartre and from there you’ll need to make your way up to the hilltop where Place du Tertre, the coffee shops, and the Sacré-Coeur are to be found.
Alternatively, this hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Paris allows for stops all around the French capital, including in several places in and around Montmartre. The Montmartre Route of the bus ride has stops at the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, Gare du Nord and Musee Grevin (Wax Museum).
If you want to take the funicular up to the Basilica, then your best bet is to get off at the Anvers metro station. In order to take the Funiculaire de Montmartre, you’ll need a brand new metro ticket! Metro tickets cannot be used between buses/ metros and the funicular. Once at the top of Montmartre, there’s also a little tourist road train that you can pay to go Montmartre sightseeing on. More details can be found here.
Anvers metro station – Line 2
Abbesses metro station – Line 12
Things to know before visiting Montmartre for the first time
The best time to visit Montmartre is in the morning before everyone else arrives! Though this district is much more popular now than just a few years ago, you’ll soon discover that you’ll have the 18th arrondissement largely to yourself if you arrive at first light (and mid-week if possible)!
Before planning your visit, you should know that due to the sheer concentration of tourists in the area, Montmartre is one Paris arrondissement where tourist scams are rife. Pickpocketing is prevalent so be sure to watch your belongings at all times and a zip-up bag is an absolute must! Most popular is the ‘string scam of Montmartre’ where a group of men and women will be standing in a group.
They’ll offer you a friendship bracelet, seemingly out of generosity. Once you’ve got the bracelet tightly fastened to your wrist, they’ll only let you go once you’ve paid them a certain ‘fee‘. More often than not, they won’t even offer you a bracelet but try to tie a piece of string around your hand or finger. This Montmartre scam most commonly occurs around the base of the Sacré-Coeur steps.
Otherwise, one of the most important things to bear in mind is that while English is widely spoken, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, French. Learning a few simple words like ‘hello,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘sorry’ is a great place to start. In order to help you get by, I recommend bringing along a simple French Phrasebook like this one.
Where to stay in Montmartre
For those looking to explore the 18th area of Paris in further depth, you might consider actually staying there. Luxurious options include Maison Souquet and Hotel Particulier Montmartre, while more affordable places to stay can be found in the form of Timhotel Montmartre and Hotel Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacré Coeur.
To help you get the most out of your visit to Montmartre, and for further information, I’ve put together a full list of the best of Montmartre hotels here. Otherwise, if you want to book now (so as to guarantee the best deals!), check the best accommodation prices for Montmartre here.
What to pack for Montmartre
Comfortable shoes: When visiting any European capital city, comfortable shoes are a must. And the Montmartre arrondissement of Paris is no exception. Be sure to leave your high heels at home as there are plenty of cobbled streets. I personally recommend these shoes as they go well with both jeans and dresses. I would also add that any kind of tennis shoes, i.e. ones like these, are really practical for wandering around the city.
A Paris guidebook: If you want to go truly old-school when exploring the meandering lanes of Montmartre (and I highly recommend you do), then ditch your smartphone or tablet and instead be sure to bring along a Parisian guidebook to the best of the city. I personally recommend this one.
A travel adaptor: Paris, like much of mainland Europe, uses type C and E. This means that if you’re travelling from the US, Canada, the UK, and many other countries, then you’ll need to purchase a travel adaptor. This all in one adaptor contains USB ports and works with several different plugs.