There are many nice things to do in Montmartre, Paris.
If there is one neighborhood you should not miss when visiting Paris, that’s Montmartre. Looking more like a large village than a city proper, Montmartre is indeed part of Paris – though in 1871, during the Franco-Prussian war, local residents refused the authority of the city of Paris.
Home to artists – Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir and more recently singer Dalida to name but a few, and a popular set for movies (more about that in a bit), Paris’ 18th arrondissement is all about cobbled alleys, quaint cafés, hidden corners with incredible, charming views and the most unique atmosphere.
Most people spend half a day or a day at most in this part of town, but you may want to factor in a couple of days to take in all that it has to offer. Continue reading to find out how to make the most of it!
28 Great Things To Do In Montmartre, Paris
Take a guided walking tour
This is the very first thing you need to do to get a hang for the area, to learn about its history and to understand your whereabouts. Tours usually last around 3 hours, so after that you have the rest of the day to continue exploring on your own, take photos and more.
I took a Montmartre 2-hour walking tour that costed only €16. My guide proved to be incredibly knowledgeable, led the group swiftly across the busy streets of Montmartre sharing interesting facts and useful information. You can book the tour here.
Visit the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Montmartre is Sacré-Coeur Basilica – it’s one of the most famous Montmartre attractions. Once a pagan place of worship, it now is one of the most popular places to visit in Paris, and it can be seen from several places in town (including from the Eiffel Tower), as it stands on top of a hill.
Despite its look, the Basilica is actually not nearly as antique as it appears. The founding stone was laid in 1875 and the church was finally completed in 1914 and consecrated after the end of World War I. What’s interesting to note is that despite the pollution of a city as crowded as Paris, the Basilica remains white – which is due to the material used for its construction.
If you care for an in depth tour of the church, you may want to opt for this guided tour.
Once you are done visiting the Basilica, head to Square Marcel-Bleustein-Blanchet – it’s a lovely spot away from the crowds, where you can chill before you continue your exploration.
Take in the views from the Basilica
Unfortunately, when I visited Sacré-Coeur Basilica the weather was overcast and the views from the Basilica were not exactly the best. Yet, the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur is one of the best spots for views of Paris, especially at sunset, and you may want to enjoy some time sitting around and looking at the city, trying to recognize the many spots you see. In the photo above, you can recognize the Centre Pompidou and Notre-Dame on the right.
Follow the footsteps of Amelié
If you haven’t watched the movie Amelié, stop whatever you are doing and download it now. This is honestly one of the best movies that came out at the beginning of the century (it came out in 2001), a story full of irony, positivity and romance – not to mention the soundtrack is incredible. It marked the success of actress Audrey Tatou – whom you may recognize from another movie, The Da Vinci Code.
The movie is about the life of character Amelié Poulin, and it is set in Montmartre, where you can go in search of the filming locations. One of the most popular spots is the Café des Deux Moulins. It’s a cute spot, with posters and all. The owner isn’t exactly the friendliest so don’t expect to be able to pop in for photos. You will have to sit for a drink or a meal at least!
Another cool place to look for is Au Marché de la Butte (the Maison Collignon) on 56 Rue des Trois Frères. It’s the greengrocer when Amelié shops in the movie (and some of the most fun scenes in the movie take place there).
Take a look at the Sinking House
The Sinking House of Montmartre is not really sinking. This is just an optical illusion, but it is truly cool to look for it. Now, let me help you or you will go as crazy as I did looking for it. What you need to do is walk up the main set of stairs to the parvis of the Sacré-Coeur. Once you get to the last few steps, move to the right. Tilt your camera. The house looks like it is sinking!
Explore Montmartre Cemetery
The third largest cemetery in Paris after Père Lachaise and Montparnasse Cemetery, Montmartre Cemetery was first opened in 1825 and is the resting place of prominent French artists such as writers Emile Zola and Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers), painter Degas and singer Dalida. The cemetery is on the outskirts of the old city, beneath a bridge.
If you happen to be in Paris on 1 November, you may also want to visit the Cemetière du Calvaire, which only opens on that day and can only be visited on guided tours in French. It’s located on Rue du Mont-Cenis, between Place du Tertre and the Sacré-Coeur, so if you are not there on its only opening day, you may at least try to take a peak from outside.
Learn about the many artists who lived in Montmartre
The history of Montmartre is directly linked to the lives of the many artists who lived there. Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh all lived here for a period of time. They were inspired by the charms of this part of Paris. You may even decide to follow their footsteps.
For example, if you are a fan of Picasso, you may want to stop by his first atelier on 49 Rue Gabrielle; then visit the Bateau-Lavoir and the Lapin Agile (more about those below).
Go to Le Clos Montmartre
The name will probably mean nothing to you. But what if I told you this is the last working vineyard in the city of Paris? Yes, you read correctly: this teeny tiny vineyard is still making wine. Located behind the Musée de Montmartre, it was founded in the 19th century. It’s a truly lovely pace and I recommend stopping by for a short while.
Take a peek of Lapin Agile
Right by Le Clos Montmatre on 22 Rue de Saules, you will find the Lapin Agile. The name literally means “the agile rabbit.” This cabaret was first opened in 1860 and it was a favorite of local residents and of the artists communities. In 1905 Picasso painted a scene that represented its interiors. It’s a lovely spot, so make sure to stop by.
Enjoy coffee at Le Refuge Café
Dating back to the 1930s, this is said to be one of the best cafés in Paris. It’s a truly iconic spot – you must have seen it so many times on Instagram. Whether you just want to have a hot drink on a rainy day or snap a photo from the outside, make sure to stop by!
Or at Le Consulat
Another nice café in Montmartre, this brasserie is one of the most popular places for a bite in the area. It’s located on what used to be known as la Butte Montmartre.
Pay your homage to Dalida
Dalida used to be one of the most famous Parisian singers. Born in Cairo from Italian parents, she lived in Montmartre and is buried in Montmartre Cemetery. Make sure to go to Place Dalida, where you will find a statue representing her. It’s a lovely small square at the end of the cutest of streets and the views from there are stunning.
Legend goes that if you rub her breast you will soon find true love. You may want to give it a try, because you never know. I did, I found what I thought was true love, finally, and it ended almost as quickly as I found it. Go figure!
Hang out in Place Suzanne-Buisson
One of the things to do in Montmartre to get away from the crowds is hanging out in Place Suzanne-Buisson. It’s close to Place Dalida and it’s a real haven. It really is a tiny park, not many tourists know of its existence so even on the busiest of days (like when I went) this nice square is pleasantly quiet.
Learn the history of the Man Who Walked Through Walls
Le Passe-Muraille is where you will learn the history of the Man Who Walked Through Walls, after which the statue takes. Writer Marcel Aymé wrote a book about a certain Mr Dutilleul, who discovered he was capable of walking through walls and decided to use it once a new boss made his life unbearable.
He walked through walls to the point that his manager went crazy and was taken to an asylum. He then started using his power to burglar banks, jewelries and the like. When caught and put in prison, he used his power to escape. It was when he fell in love with a married woman that things changed. But I won’t tell you the end of the story, you need to learn for yourself!
Admire the Bateau-Lavoir
If you google the name Bateau-Lavoir you will come up with photos of what the place looked like in the past and how it has changed through history. This was the meeting place and residence of many prominent artists in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In other words, it was the place where lots of art was created!
The building was destroyed by fire in May 1970 and completely rebuild in 1978.
Visit de Musée de Montmartre
The Musée de Montmartre is one of the most interesting museums in Paris. It’s located at 12, Rue Cortot. It once was the residence and meeting place of artists such as Renoir, Bernard, and Valadon. The exhibit was first opened in 1960 and shows paintings of Montmartre and documents that will help you put together the history of this part of town when it was covered in windmills.
Go to the Musée d’Art Naïf Max Fourny
If you want to see a place that doesn’t get that many tourists yet, go to the Musée d’Art Naïf Max Fourny. This small museum is entirely focused on the contemporary side of Montmartre, with an exhibit of more than 1400 pieces from 55 different countries, and over 500 paintings and around 80 sculptures. It also hosts cultural events.
Hang out in Place du Tertre
Place du Tertre is quintessentially Montmartre. It’s the place you should go if you want your portrait or caricature taken. Of course, it is very touristy, but when a place is so charming you quickly forget about everything else.
It’s best if you don’t take photos of the paintings. I took mine casually so nobody was bothered, but if you go behind the back of the artist, you will be told of!
Artists are good at Place du Tertre. The same can’t be said about the cafés and restaurants around it. Make sure to avoid them!
Go to the Mur des Je T’Aime
The Wall of I Love Yous is made of 600 tiles and covers a surface of around 40 square meters. Put together by artists artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito it displays how to say I love you in 250 languages. It’s for the romantic couples, really. But also for the single ones who have not lost hope yet.
Snap a photo of La Maison Rose
This is one of the most charming (and photographed) corners of Montmartre. La Maison Rose has been operating for more than a century and it’s the place where artists such as Picasso would eat. Nowadays, it is not exactly a cheap place to eat so I don’t really recommend it. But I must say it is a lovely place to see so make sure to stop by.
And of Montmartre Carousel
If you like traditional carousels as much as I do, you will love the one in Montmartre. Depending on which angle you look at it and photograph it, the Sacré-Coeur will be in the photo. So take your time!
Stuff your face at Les Petits Mitrons
If you are looking for a place to eat, head straight to Les Petits Mitrons. A local institution, it’s been run by the same family for more than 30 years. This pastry shop serves sweet and savory pies. The salmon and leek quiche is delicious. You can’t eat in, so have your food wrapped and find yourself a sunny spot for a picnic.
Look for the windmills
Montmartre lays in an area that was once outside of Paris and that used to be farmland covered in windmills. Not many of them remain, but those that are still up are quite a sight. Make sure to go to Rue Lepic for the Moulin de la Galette. The street is packed with lovely quaint shops, so once you are done chasing windmills you can continue your walk in search of more mundane finds.
Try traditional French cuisine at Le Petit Moulin Montmartre
If you are in search of traditional French food, one of the things to do in Montmartre is eating at Le Petit Moulin Montmartre. This French Bistro and wine bar is located near the old center of Montmartre. You will find a selection of cheeses to die for and a fabulous wine list. Honestly, I wouldn’t even go for a full meal if I could just stuff my face with cheese!
Go for a ride on the Funiculaire de Montmartre
If you don’t fancy walking all the way uphill to Sacré-Coeur Basilica, you can use your metro ticket to jump on the funicular: it’s one of the most fun things to do in Montmartre. It’s been there since 1900! You can get off at the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur from where you can easily reach the Basilica.
Shopping is one of the best things to do in Montmartre. The cobbled alleys and lovely streets are a series of lovely boutiques and shops where you can find pretty much anything you want – clothing, shoes and accessories; food of all sorts, wine and other drinks; jewelry and art. It’s just an issue of budget, really. But the good news is that looking is free!
Attend a show at Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge isn’t exactly in Montmartre. It’s located in Pigalle, right outside the metro station you need to get off to reach Montmartre. To be fair, it has now become a tourist attraction more than anything else, but you may still want to attend a show if you have enough time. You can book it here – mind you, it is not cheap.
Visit the Musée de la Vie Romantique
One of the most romantic things to do in Montmartre is visiting this small museum located in what used to be the home of George Sand, famous French writer. It’s filled with romantic artworks. There’s also a nice tearoom you can relax in during the good season.
Practical Tips For Your Visit To Montmartre
How to get to Montmartre
The best way to reach Montmartre from other parts of Paris is by metro. Take line 2 to Anvers station (where you can catch the funicular to the Basilica); and line 12 to Abbesses. From there, you will have to walk up the hill to reach the main attractions such as Place du Tertre and Sacré-Coeur Basilica.
Alternatively, you can also take the metro to Blanche which is right outside the Moulin Rouge and walk from there – it’s an easy, pleasant walk.
You can also use your hop-on-hop-off bus pass to reach Montmartre – just make sure to pick the Montmartre route. You can get your hop-on-hop-off bus ticket here.
Where to stay in Montmartre
There is a fair selection of good places to stay in Montmartre. I have picked the best ones for you:
- Hotel des Arts Montmartre has really small but beautiful rooms. It’s close to the metro station. Click here for the latest rates.
- Maison Lepic has modern, comfortable rooms in a great location. Rooms are small but have everything you need for your stay. Click here for the latest rates.
- Le Relais offers plush rooms, albeit a bit small. The location is just perfect. Click here for the latest rates.
Mind the scams and the pickpockets
Such a touristy part of Paris is obviously plagued with touts and pickpockets, so be careful when walking around. Make sure to keep your important belongings in a safe pocket in a bag that you can zip up and close properly.
Check out my post How To Avoid The Most Common Scams In Paris.
Check out my other posts about Paris and France to better plan your trip:
- The Best Paris Travel Tips
- How To See Paris Off The Beaten Path
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Paris
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- Paris In 3 Days: A Great Itinerary To Make The Most Of It
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- The Best Cities To Visit In France
- How To Get Tickets To The Louvre
- How To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets
- How To Get Versailles Tickets
- How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris