I never go to Montmartre. The Sacré Cœur and its surroundings are must-sees when you visit Paris but because it’s not central and I have no particular reason to ride the subway up to the butte, I hadn’t been since showing a friend around a year ago. What prompted me to return? A picture from the Brassaï exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville showing rue Foyatier, flights of stairs running down the hill with gorgeous lamps. There was an air of mystery to the image telling me that I was missing on something.
Today was an exceptionally sunny day in an otherwise drab, rainy week, so it was perfect for exploring. I rode the subway up to the Abbesses station on line 12. What is striking about Montmartre is how it reminds one of a village within the city with its cobbled streets, greenery and old charm. This is after all where Amélie Poulain was shot.
Walking up the butte and along rue Gabrielle, you will come across a first picturesque flight of stairs on rue Chappe. Then turn around and climb those steps to get your first glimpse of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.
Head towards the grand entrance of the basilica but make a stop just before the funicular on your right: that is where you’ll find rue Foyatier, the beautiful street I mentioned in the introduction.
You are now on the highest point of Paris so do take in the view. The basilica is surrounded by hordes of tourists but a music player (a harpist today) will probably ease the moment.
With its monumental size and architecture, the Sacré-Cœur is a sight to behold but not really worth visiting several times. Instead I circled the basilica and headed down the charming rue Maurice Utrillo. Once there I turned right down rue Paul Albert.
Wouldn’t you want to live there? And doesn’t this building remind you of the Flatiron in New York City?
Then walk down the rue Ronsard to reach to the bottom of the park with its lovely carousel.
To return to the top of the butte, you can either climb the 222 steps of rue Foyatier or use a metro ticket to ride the funicular.
The place du Tertre is very touristy and honestly I didn’t bother to look at the art, but it’s a reminder of Montmartre’s past as the home of great painters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Claude Monet.
There are many other things to discover in Montmartre: vines, tiny cobbled streets and chic houses half-hidden behind gates… Alas, my phone died. So now I suppose I have another good excuse to explore the area?
Have a great week everyone!