The Ultimate Things To Do In Montmartre

A day in Montmartre

Planning a trip to Paris? You’ll definitely want to spend some time in Montmartre. With a maze of cobbled streets, vintage stores, and a rich history, there’s nowhere quite like the 18th arrondissement. Discover the best things to do in Montmartre, including where to eat and where to find the best views. 

With its winding cobblestoned streets, lively cafes and street artists, Montmartre is the epitome of French character. Despite being quite touristy in areas, Montmartre is a designated historic area and has managed to retain much of its authenticity and romantic charm. 

Montmartre was always one of my favourite areas in Paris. When I lived in Paris, I would often spend a day in Montmartre just wandering around the different streets and listening to the locals’ lively conversations. It’s a romantic area with lots of character.

Most visitors head to Montmartre to see the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, the Place du Tertre and of course, Moulin Rouge. But there is so much more to this neighbourhood than these famous landmarks.

In this guide, I’m covering the best things to do in Montmartre, from retracing the steps of famous artists to finding beautiful hidden gems. You’ll also find a selection of accommodation recommendations and personal tips to help you plan your time in Montmartre.

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View of Sacre Coeur
Things to do in Montmartre
Pink houses in Montmartre

An Insider’s Guide

Montmartre is one of my favourite areas in Paris. It’s a romantic area with lots of character. However, many visitors come away disappointed as the reality didn’t meet their expectations.

The truth is that while Montmartre has retained much of its historic charm, parts of the village have become tourist traps. If you’re dreaming of a magical evening walk along empty streets like you see in the films, you’re probably going to feel quite dissatisfied.

The crowds can be overwhelming, especially in the summer months, making it difficult to stop and appreciate the quaint streets. Gimmicky souvenir shops line the main streets and it can be difficult to find authentic restaurants.

But before you dismiss Montmartre, the good news is that the whimsical charm that people associate with the village is still there. You just need to know where to look and accept that parts of Montmartre will be busy and touristy. 

I lived in Paris for a year so I spent a lot of time exploring the lesser known parts of Montmartre. In this guide, I’m sharing the popular things to do in Montmartre, along with hidden gems and authentic eats, so you can experience the best of this Parisian village.

The best things to do in Montmartre

1. Go on a walking tour

If it’s your first time visiting Montmartre, I highly recommend doing a free walking tour with Discover Walks. They share lots of interesting stories about Montmartre’s history and its famous residents. It’s a great way to get your bearings and will help you understand the cultural significance of the village in Paris’ history. The tours take place at 2.30pm on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. They’re free but it’s customary to tip about $10.  

If you’re looking for something memorable to do in Montmartre, there are lots of fun and unique tours which will give you a totally different experience. Here are a couple that I’ve done that I would recommend:

Wine and Bistro tour through Montmartre

Montmartre was once full of vineyards so it’s a great place to learn more about the region’s wine making history. The tour takes you to several little bistros where you will get to sample different wines with an assortment of cheese and charcuterie. The guides are passionate and knowledgeable about local food and wine and have lots of interesting stories to share. Check availability and prices.

 
Hidden Gems of Montmartre

If you’re looking for some of Montmartre’s secret spots, I highly recommend this tour. I did it when I first moved to Paris with another expat and helped us see a different side of Montmartre. The guides know the village inside out and will show you hidden gems that only locals know. Check availability and pricing.  

Instagrammable places in Paris - Sacre Coeur

2. Visit the iconic Sacré-Coeur

A list of things to do in Montmartre wouldn’t be complete without Sacré-Coeur. Situated at the top of the Butte Montmarte, Sacré-Coeur is a beautiful sight. It also has one of the most beautiful panoramic views over Paris.

Given its popularity, it does get extremely busy so my advice is to go early. The best time is just after sunrise as you’ll have a couple of hours of peace and quiet before the crowds descend.

3. Climb to the top of the dome

The first few times I went to Sacré-Coeur I didn’t realise you could actually climb to the top of the dome. Situated 271 feet above the city, the dome is the highest observation point in Paris behind the Eiffel Tower. If you’re not claustrophobic or scared of heights then I highly recommend buying a ticket and going to the top.

You have to walk up 300 narrow spiral steps but the views are nothing short of spectacular and it’s very peaceful at the top. If you can, try and go just before sunset to get the light pink and orange tones. You can buy a ticket outside the entrance to the Basilica.

Sacre Coeur Montmartre
Sacre Coeur Dome

4. Find the ‘sinking’ house of Montmartre

It took me a while to find this spot as it’s actually an illusion. To get that sinking effect, everyone just tilts their camera so that the grassy hill is horizontal, making the house look like it is leaning.

Walk up the steps to the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur. As you start to walk up the final set of steps to the Basilica, look to your right and you’ll see the house behind the bank of grass. You can’t miss it as it’s very distinctive with the dark orange brick work and grey slate roof.

5. Enjoy the sunset from the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur

One of my favourite things to do in Montmartre was to watch the sunset from the steps of the Parvis du Sacré-Coeur. It’s a popular spot among locals. At weekends, groups of friends will sit on the steps with beers and bottles of wine and listen to musicians as the sun sets over Paris. From the steps you can see some of Paris’ famous landmarks such as Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.   

Sunset at Sacre Coeur

6. Visit Saint Pierre De Montmartre

Tucked away behind the iconic white basilica, Saint Pierre de Montmartre is the oldest church in the village. It dates back to the beginning of the 12th century and was once part of a large Benedictine abbey. It has been renovated multiple times and you can the different styles reflected throughout the interior and exterior of the church.

7. Wander around Place du Tertre

During the Belle Époque, Montmartre was a haven for artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Renoir. It was one of the more affordable places to live and was also exempt from Paris’ wine tax! Their legacy is still very much alive today.

Place de Tertre is the artistic hub of Montmartre. Here you’ll find artists covering the entire square selling their paintings and offering portraits sessions. It’s actually incredibly difficult to get a spot to paint here. The current wait list is about 10 years and the application process is very rigorous.

8. Stop at Le Consulat for a coffee

Wander along any street in Montmartre and you’re sure to stumble across some of the cutest cafes in Paris. Le Consulat café is just a few minutes from Sacré Coeur and has plenty of vintage charm.

The café has served a number of acclaimed artists and writers over the decades, including Picasso, Monet and Van Gough. If you’re looking for somewhere to relax and watch the world go by, this is the place.

This historic restaurant has a rich history and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. To get the best photos and tables, make sure you go early on a week day.

9. Visit the oldest street in Montmartre

If you want to immerse yourself in the village’s history, visit Rue Saint-Rustique. At one point, it was a designated pedestrian walkway and one of my colleagues told me it was the first of its kind. It provides a beautiful view of Sacré-Coeur through the narrow passageway. Walking down this street is definitely one of the best things to do in Montmartre.

10. Admire the pretty La Maison Rose

La Maison Rose is an important part of Montmartre’s history. The restaurant was opened in 1905 by Germaine and Ramon Pichot and was frequented by generations of famous artists, including Maurice Utrillo, Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, who was friends with the owners. 

Its pastel pink façade and green shutters have made it an Instagram favourite but it’s also worth going inside to see the vintage décor and sample some of the traditional French dishes.

Things to do in Montmartre - La Maison Rose
Things to do in Montmartre - Rue Saint Rustique

11. Check out the museums 

When you think of Paris’ museums, la Louvre and Musée d’Orsay probably spring to mind. However, Montmartre has some wonderful museums to explore. If you have a couple of days in the village, these museums are worth visiting:

Musée de Montmartre

The museum is located in the Bel Air House which was built in the 17th It’s the oldest building in Montmartre and was once a meeting place for artists who had studios here. There are three gardens which surround the museum and offer beautiful view over the local vineyards. Known as the Renoir Gardens, they are named after the Impressionist painter, Auguste Renoir, who painted several of his masterpieces here.

Dalí Paris

This museum is dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dali. The artwork was acquired through a private collection so there are more than 300 original pieces, some of which are actually for sale.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

This charming museum is worth a visit just to see the building itself. Set in a pretty 1830s mansion, it feels as though you’ve been transported to the countryside as soon as you walk through the tree-lined courtyard. The museum is dedicated to the novelist, George Sand, but also houses temporary collections.

12. See the oldest working vineyard in Paris

Just down the road from La Maison Rose, you’ll find Le Clos Montmartre, the oldest working vineyard in Paris. Montmartre was once full of vineyards but many were destroyed during the French revolution. Clos Montmartre survived and was renewed in 1933 as a way to protect the land from property developers.

Today, the vineyard produces about 1500 half-litre bottles of Gamay and Pinot Noir each year which are sold and auctioned for local charities at the annual wine festival, La Fête des Vendanges, which takes place in October.

The vineyard is closed to the public but you can still wander round the outside of the railings and admire the colours of the vines.

13. Sample the local wines at the annual wine festival

Each October, the whole of Montmartre comes together for a few days to celebrate the Fête des Vendanges (grape harvest festival). More than 40 bars and restaurants take part in the event. Market stands selling local wines and artisanal products line the cobbled streets. Concerts and street performances take place around every corner.

It’s a magical time to be in Montmartre. Last year’s festival took place online but the festival will be back on October 6 – 10th this year. You can buy tickets online nearer the time.

14. Wander down Rue Cortot

Just across from La Maison Rose lies another fairy tale street, Rue Cortot. There is something very enchanting about the cobbled street with its ivy covered buildings so don’t miss this street when you spend a day in Montmartre. You’ll also find the Musée de Montmartre along this road. 

A day in Montmartre - Rue Cortot

15. Take some photos from Rue du Mont-Cenis

Built on a hill, steps and winding stairways can be found around every corner in Montmartre. Lined with lampposts, the steps at Rue du Mont-Cenis always make me feel like I’ve walked into an old Hollywood film, especially at night when they’re lit up and create a soft glow.

16. See the cabaret at Au Lapin Agile

Across the road from the vineyard lies the infamous cabaret bar, Au Lapin Agile. It’s easily recognisable from its logo which is a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan. The bar first opened its doors in 1860 and was one of Picasso’s favourite haunts in Montmartre. Artists would come and recite their songs and poems.

Today, Au Lapin Agile continues to showcase new talent. It’s open to the public but the shows are done in French so brush up on a few phrases if you decide to go.

17. Go to Lamarck-Caulaincourt Metro Station

You’ll probably recognise this metro station from the numerous Instagram photos. It’s another Parisian icon and one of the most photogenic metro stations in Paris with steps running up both sides and le Refuge bistro across the street.

If you enjoy street photography then this is a great place to come as there’s a real buzz and vibrant feel as people go about their day to day activities.

This is a great spot for street photographers. Try to visit early in the morning when the restaurants are starting to open and there is a real buzz.

18. Visit the Statue of Dalida for good luck

Dalida was a beloved French pop singer who called Montmartre home. In 1987, she tragically ended her life but her legacy still lives on today. Place Dalida is a tribute to her. The statue of Dalida’s bust was revealed in 1997 and it’s said that touching her breasts brings good luck. So if you see people touching a statue, don’t be too alarmed!   

19. Take in the view at Rue de l’Abreuvoir

There are so many beautiful streets in Montmartre but Rue de l’Abreuvoir is my favourite. This picturesque, cobbled street is a popular place for painters.

Standing at the bottom of the street, you can almost picture Monet, Picasso and Van Gough all sat with their easels painting this pretty scene when they lived in Montmartre.

A day in Montmartre

20. Find Le Passe-Muraille

If you wander around Montmartre, you’ll eventually come across this brass man stuck in a stone wall. Le Passe-Muraille translates literally as ‘passer through walls’. This intriguing statue was inspired by the novel by Marcel Aymé, ‘The Man Who Walked Through Walls’.

In the novel, the character, M. Dutilleul, discovers he can walk through walls and uses this new found ability to commit crime. In the tragic finale, he loses his power mid-stride and becomes stuck inside the wall for eternity.

21. Discover the last of Montmartre’s windmills

Montmartre was once home to more than a dozen windmills which formed the famous Moulin de la Galette. Today, only two remain (excluding the infamous one on the top of Moulin Rouge). One is actually called le Moulin de la Galette just to make things confusing. It’s actually a restaurant now but you can see the windmill from outside.

The other is le Moulin Blute-Fin which is located on the corner of Rue Girardon and Rue Lepic. You can’t really see this windmill as it’s on private property and hidden by trees. In winter, you can get a glimpse of the windmill through the bare trees.

Visiting the windmills is one of the best things to in Montmartre. There’s something very alluring about these windmills that have been immortalised over the years in paintings by artists such as Van Gogh and Renoir.

22. Admire the houses down Villa Léandre

I stumbled across this hidden gem one evening and felt like I’d be transported to a bygone era. Named after the comedian, Charles Léandre, the street is inspired by English and Art Deco styles. It’s a world away from the Haussmannian architecture that dominates the rest of the city. 

Villa Leandre Montmartre

23. Meet literary legends at Montmartre Cemetery

A trip to the cemetery isn’t something I’d normally recommend but if you’re interested in history, it’s definitely worth visiting. The Montmartre Cemetery is the final resting place of many literary legends like Émile Zola and Dalida.

If you don’t want to go in, you can still have a little look from the bridge that crosses over the cemetery. The Pont de Caulaincourt was built in 1888 and is a good place to look down over the cemetery.

24. Take a Macaron making class in Montmartre

You can’t visit Paris without sampling some of their world famous macarons. If you’re looking for a unique experience then I recommend going one step further and actually attending a macaron making class. I’ve done it twice and both times were so much fun. The chef is brilliant and it’s a great way to learn first-hand how to make one of the most popular French desserts. Plus, your friends and family will love you if you take them some homemade macarons back! Check availability and prices.

25. Le mur des je t’aime

Located on the square at Place des Abbesses, this beautiful mural was designed by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito and has become a must-see for people visiting the city of romance. The mural is made from 511 dark-blue enamel tiles and features the phrase ‘I love you’ in nearly 250 different languages. 

The splashes of red over the mural are said to represent parts of a broken heart which the wall tries to bring back together.

This unique monument is dedicated to love and says ‘I love you’ 311 times.

The best cafes, bars and restaurants in Montmartre

Tourist menus and inflated prices are unfortunately very common in Montmartre. My tip? Avoid the main streets and try some of these spots instead. The following cafes, restaurants and bars were all recommended to me when I first moved to Paris, so they come with the local seal of approval!

Cafés in Montmartre

Le Consulat

As I mentioned earlier, le Consulat has a rich history and is a great spot to relax with a café and do some people-watching. I have mixed feelings about the food, but if you just want to get a bite to eat and enjoy a glass of wine, you can’t go wrong here. 

Address: 18 Rue Norvins, 75018 Paris, France

 

Café des Deux Moulins

It would be amiss not to include this French café given its cultural importance. This somewhat ordinary café rose to fame after appearing in the film ‘Amelie’. It’s difficult to find a table here on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s a lovely place to stop for a coffee in the afternoon – or a glass of wine!

Address: 5 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France

Restaurants in Montmartre

Soul Kitchen

This quirky restaurant is one of the few places in Paris that offers an ample selection of vegetarian options. It feels more like something you’d find in a hip neighbourhood in San Francisco, but it has a cozy atmosphere and the food is delicious. There’s also some fun board games in the cupboard so ask the staff what they have after you order.  

Address: 33 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris, France

 
Le Moulin de la Galette

This restaurant is a bit of a novelty but I’ve included it as it’s an enchanting venue. The restaurant is set inside one of the only two remaining windmills from the 17th century. Le Moulin de la Galette was popular with artists and was immortalised in Renoir’s painting, Bal du Moulin de la Galette. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Montmartre, reserve a table here for lunch or dinner.

Address: 83 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France

 

Le Coq Rico

This is probably my favourite place in Paris for a Sunday roast dinner. ‘Coq’ means rooster, so it’s no surprise that Le Coq Rico is dedicated to poultry cuisine. The focus is on slow cooking to preserve the natural flavours and textures.

Address: 98 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France

 

La Part des Anges

Friendly service, great food, and a cozy atmosphere make this small restaurant one of Montmartre’s hidden gems. La Part des Anges specialises in Basque cuisine typically found in South West France and Spain. There is a homely ambiance and staff will often ask you a few questions about what you like to eat before making some personal suggestions which I loved!

Address: 10 Rue Garreau, 75018 Paris, France

Bars in Montmartre

La Fourmi

If you want to experience an authentic neighbourhood bar, look no further than La Fourmi. Unlike some of the other bars nearby, La Fourmi is rustic and a little bit rugged which adds to its charm.

Address: 74 Rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris, France

 
Le Petit Parisien

Le Petit Parisien has so much character for such a little restaurant. Located near the Moulin de la Galette, this traditional French restaurant has vintage vibe. Old signs, posters and antiques line the walls and take you back to a bygone era. It’s a lovely spot to sip on a glass of wine after dinner and watch the world go by.

Address: 28 Rue Tholozé, 75018 Paris, France

 

Le Chinon

Le Chinon is a popular spot with locals. It has a great outdoor patio but I suspect it’s the happy hour deals that keep my French colleagues going back!

Address: 49 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris, France

Best places to eat in Montmartre

Where to stay in Montmartre

There are so many things to do in Montmartre and whilst you can squeeze them into one day, I’d recommend taking a couple of days to explore the village. Stay for a night or two and you’ll see another side to Montmartre. 

As the sun goes down and the tourists leave for the day, Montmartre’s local scene comes to life. If you’re looking for the romantic ambiance that you’ve seen in the movies, this is where you’ll find it. 

Le Terrass” Hôtel

Set in a 19th century building in the heart of Montmartre, this hotel is just exceptional. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the location is perfect for exploring Montmartre, but it’s the rooftop terrace that steals the show. Enjoy breakfast on the terrace and soak in the panoramic views.

Hôtel des Arts

Hôtel des Arts is a cosy boutique hotel located on a quiet street. It’s a family run hotel which has passed through three generations. As such, it feels very homely and the staff go out of their way to look after you. Each room has an artistic and fashionable design, with a focus on the little details.

ibis Paris Montmartre 18ème

If you’re looking for something affordable, this is a great budget option. The rooms may be simple but they’re immaculately clean, and have very comfortable beds along with all the amenities you need. The hotel is just 300 metres from Moulin Rouge and a 15-minute walk from Sacré Coeur.

Where to stay in Montmartre Paris
The view from our bedroom in the Ibis Montmartre. Given how reasonable this hotel was, we weren't expecting to wake up to a view like this!

PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO MONTMARTRE

How to get to Montmartre

Montmartre is situated in the 18th arrondissement. The closest metro stations are Anvers (line 2) or Abbesses (line 12):

  • Anvers: Exit the metro station and take the first street on your right, Rue de Steinkerque. This is one of the main streets which is lined with the souvenir shops I mentioned earlier. It can be a busy street so be prepared for crowds. After a short walk, you’ll reach Place Saint-Pierre and Sacré Coeur will be right in front of you.
  • Abbesses: This station is very close to Le Mur des Je t’aime. To get to Sacré Coeur, head along Rue Yvonne le Tac which is on the left as you exit the station. Walk all the way along the street until it becomes Place Saint-Pierre and you see the basilica in front of you.

 

You can also get to Montmartre on the hop-on-off bus tour. It stops at lots of the famous sights around Paris, including several places in Montmartre. The route stops at Moulin Rouge and Sacré Coeur so you can get off, explore at your own pace, and then get back on the next bus.

Getting around Montmartre

All of the things to do in Montmartre are best accessed by foot. However, just remember that Montmartre is one of the highest points in Paris. It is perched on a hilltop at a height of 130 metres so be prepared for a lot of uphill and downhill walking. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as there are lots of steps and steep streets.

From Place Saint-Pierre, you can either climb the steps to reach Sacré Coeur, or you can use a metro ticket and take the funicular. This little tram takes you from the bottom of the hill up to the basilica in under 2 minutes, cutting out all the steps.

Practical advice and safety tips

Montmartre is a magical place but there are a few things to know before you go. Here are some practical tips from my time living in Paris:

1. Go early in the morning

While some of the cafes and shops won’t be open, going early means you will avoid the crowds. It’s a much more enjoyable experience as the streets are empty except for locals going to work and children going to school.

2. Take a refillable water bottle

All the uphill walking can be hard work so you need stay hydrated. Luckily there are lots of drinking fountains where you can refill your water bottle for free. The water is fresh and tastes lovely. You can find the different spots on this map.

3. Get a Paris guidebook

When I first moved to Paris, I spent my weekends exploring Paris with just my guidebook. It’s a bit old-school but it’s the best way to really get to know the area. And you’ll probably stumble across more hidden gems if you go off the beaten path! I personally recommend Fodor’s Travel as it’s very up to date and packed with useful tips.

4. Be vigilant

Pick pocketing is very common in Paris and especially in Montmartre. I’ve always felt safe in this neighbourhood but you do need to be vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Although English is widely spoken, I recommend getting a French phrasebook to take with you and learning a few things. Berlitz is always my go to and I personally use this phrasebook.

5. The ‘string scam’

There are often groups of men and women around the steps that lead up to Sacré Coeur who will try to give you a string bracelet. Often, they will try to actually put it on you. Be firm and do not take one as they won’t let you go until you pay them a certain ‘fee’. It can be quite intimidating if you aren’t aware of this before you go as they often follow you for a bit trying to get you to accept the bracelet. Just tell them no and keep walking and they will move on to someone else.

Location details

You’ll find all of the places listed in this article on my map below. To save this map, click on the star on the right hand side of the title. This will save the map to “Your Places” in the Google Maps so you have it for your next trip to Paris.

WHERE NEXT?

Paris is one of the most romantic and photogenic cities in Europe. I lived in Paris for just over a year, so if you’re looking for more Paris inspiration, I’ve put together some more insider guides:

I hope you found this blog post on how to spend a day in Montmartre helpful. If you have any recommendations for places to see in Montmartre let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! If you enjoyed reading this post, make sure you pin it to Pinterest so you can read it again later.

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