If there’s one Parisian district I can’t get enough of, it’s Montmartre. With cobblestone alleys, cute little eateries left, right and centre and real vintage stores, walking around Montmartre, Paris is like stepping right into the 1920s. Here’s a guide to the best things to do in Montmartre, as well as what to see, where to eat, and where to stay!
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.
Whilst here, it’s easy to forget you’re in the capital of France. Instead, it feels like you’re exploring a long-forgotten part of Brittany, or perhaps a small village in the south. 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, over the past century life in Montmartre has exploded. 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.
9 Best Things to do in Montmartre
#1 Visit the Sacré-Coeur
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.
#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 it has to be said, without a doubt, that my favourite optical illusion in Paris is the Sinking House of Montmartre.cI swear it took me around 23 visits to Montmartre in order to finally work out where this house lies! To be honest, I’m surprised I missed it so many times before.
To visit the sinking house, 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, including Renoir, Bernard, and Valadon.
Founded 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
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…
#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 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. 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)!
#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.