Montmartre is located in the 18th arrondissement, and you will (probably) recognise three of its landmarks.
The Moulin Rouge
the café where Amélie Poulain worked,
and the Sacre Coeur.
The first two sites are right next to each other as you come out of Metro Blanche. The Moulin Rouge is across the street, and the café is on the street just to the right, which climbs the hill – rue Lepic.
Before you get to Amélie’s café, be sure to notice (or grab a drink in) the Lux Bar, which is on the same side of the street and has beautiful Art Deco mosaics on its walls.
Montmartre is hilly –
and there is a lesser-known windmill, which is privately owned, called the Moulin des Galettes.
(You can barely see the blades of the windmill through the trees).
What’s interesting about this place is that the owner – the last of four brothers who ran this two-century, family-owned business – rebelled against the Cossacks (the Russians) who were taking over Paris in the 1820s. He had himself nailed to the blades of the windmill as a final act of defiance and desperation.
Another interesting point. The word bistro – which to Parisians simply means café (i.e. a French bistro) – is the Russian word for “quickly!” And that’s what the Cossacks used to shout to the frazzled Parisian restaurant owners when they placed their orders. The word stuck.
This windmill later became an indoor garden and ballroom, and is the scene of Renoir’s 1876 painting, aptly named, “The Ball at the Windmill of the Galette.”
You keep climbing until you reach the Sacre Coeur (there is a grounded cable car for those who cannot make the climb)
and then you get this view-
a magnificent view over Paris.
(and to your left, a view of the Marché St Pierre, famous for its fabric)
And the experience is complete with an accordion player in a beret, playing La Vie en Rose.
Montmartre stands for Hill of the Martyrs. I was able to get some of the history from this site. There is also an English translation, but it’s not as comprehensive as the French, and it doesn’t have all the pictures of the Sacre Coeur in construction (which are worth clicking over for).
Montmartre was originally a worship site for the Druids (the educated Celtic professionals and religious leaders that were located in France, Britain and Ireland). It was later where the Romans built temples to Mars and Mercury. And the oldest Christian worship site is the Church of St Peter, built in the 12th century.
If I’m not mistaken, this is it (below), although I didn’t realise what I was taking when I snapped the photo. It’s just to the West of the Sacre Coeur, practically attached to it.
The Sacre Coeur is not actually considered beautiful by modern day architects. It’s a copy of the Roman-Byzantine era, but it’s just that – a copy. Its proportions are not considered to be pleasing. It’s too tall, too white. It looks like a wedding cake.
No pictures were allowed inside, so I only took the outside.
Right next to the Sacre Coeur is the Place du Tertre.
This is where artists gather, but again – only a poor copy of the early modern artists of the 20th century who used to congregate there (or live there, like Picasso did).
There’s Montmartre village. Adorable and touristy.
And lots of pretty, hilly streets boasting some of the few houses left in Paris.
You are sure to find something that makes your heart sing in Montmartre. Have you been?