14 Magical Things to Do in Montmartre in Paris

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Ever since I first saw the quirky French film “Amelie” when I was about 15, I’ve had a fascination with Montmartre in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. From the narrow cobbled streets to the windmills to the exquisite Sacre Coeur, this is one of the best Paris neighborhoods to explore – and you can see all the highlights in just half a day!

Montmartre used to be a village all its own, outside of the bustling city of Paris. It was rural and inexpensive to live in, which is why it drew a crowd of poor artists in search of cheap rent and cheaper booze than what they could find in Paris. Famous artists like van Gogh and Monet and even Picasso lived and created here (though they of course were more akin to starving artists at the time).

By the turn of the 20th century, the village of Montmartre had turned into a prime entertainment spot outside of Paris. Risqué cabarets and clubs like the Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge were all the rage here, giving the area a reputation that still sort of survives today (especially the closer you get to Pigalle).

Today, though, Montmartre is actually one of the most expensive places to live in Paris – and one of the most popular neighborhoods for tourists to visit, thanks to its bohemian vibes, art-filled squares, romantic cobbled streets, and views out over Paris.

One of the romantic Montmartre streets

If you’re one of those who is curious about this magical little neighborhood, read on to learn about all the best things to do in Montmartre!

Pro tip: Wear your walking shoes in Montmartre, and prep for your visit by not skipping leg day. The heart of the arrondissement sits atop a hill (the hill is actually called Montmartre, which lends its name to the surrounding neighborhood), and there are a LOT of stairs throughout it.

14 things to do in Montmartre in Paris

After several visits to Paris (check out my Paris itinerary), Montmartre remains one of my favorite neighborhoods to explore. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it’s also an arrondissement where it’s fairly easy to get away from the tourist crowds if you want to (and as long as you aren’t afraid of walking up a lot of steps).

Let’s get into that Montmartre to-do list!

1. Snap photos next to the Carrousel de Saint-Pierre

Amanda at Carrousel de Saint-Pierre, with Sacre-Coeur in the background
Me next to the carousel

What’s more magical than a vintage carousel within sight of a 19th-century domed cathedral? The one in question is the Carrousel de Saint-Pierre, which is (understandably) a popular spot to take photos in Montmartre. The carousel sits on the small Place St.-Pierre, right next to the bottom station of the funicular that will whisk you up to the Sacré-Cœur basilica.

You can get some great shots of this whimsical carousel with the white domes of Sacre-Coeur in the background. (It’s also a good place to rest before you finish climbing all the stairs to the top if you’re going to skip the funicular!)

2. Take the Montmartre funicular

Looking down the Montmartre funicular tracks
View from the Montmartre funicular

If you want to skip (some of) the steep streets and many staircases of Montmartre, you can take the funicular to the top of Butte Montmartre. The funicular glides right up the hill, taking you from the bottom (near the carousel) all the way up to the top where Sacré-Cœur is.

The Montmartre funicular is operated by RATP, the same as the Paris Metro (and a ride costs the same as a ride on the Metro). If you already have Metro tickets or credit on a Navigo card, you can use them on the funicular.

If you don’t feel like walking up the nearly 200 steps to the top of the hill, the 90-second funicular ride is a great way to rest your legs and take in a view of the city as you ascend.

3. Visit Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris)

Sacré-Cœur Basilica at sunset
The iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica

At the top of Butte Montmartre is Sacré-Cœur, or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This church is an icon of the Paris skyline and it’s one of the top tourist attractions in Montmartre.

Construction on the church began in 1875 and was finished in 1914 – though Sacré-Cœur wasn’t formally dedicated until 1919 after World War I. The style of the church is inspired by Romano-Byzantine architecture, a unique choice for the time period and a contrast to other Paris churches.

Sacré-Cœur is open to visitors every day, and entry is free. You may find a line to enter outside, but in my experience it generally moves pretty fast.

You can also climb the 280 steps to the dome of the church for spectacular views over Paris. (I mean, what’s a few hundred more steps?) The dome tickets cost €8 for adults and €5 for children aged 15 and under. Note that there is no elevator and the only way up and down is via a narrow staircase.

4. Enjoy the quiet Square de la Turlure

Sacre Coeur view from Square de la Turlure
Sacre Coeur view from Square de la Turlure

Around the back of Sacre Coeur is my favorite place in Montmartre – and a spot where you can almost always be guaranteed to experience a slice of local life in this neighborhood.

In the shadow of Sacré-Cœur, Square de la Turlure is a quiet oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Montmartre. If you want to escape the crowds and find a calm place to sit for a while, head behind the church to this little square that goes unnoticed by many tourists.

It’s a beautiful little park filled with lots of trees, leafy passages, and benches where you can enjoy the view of the back side of Sacre Coeur. The park is also a great spot for a picnic – though note that there’s also a small local skate park nearby, so it’s not always serenely quiet!

5. See artists at work at Place du Tertre

Artwork at Place du Tertre

Place du Tertre is one of the most famous areas in Montmartre. This part of Paris was historically a neighborhood for artists, and Place du Tertre pays homage to that legacy.

The square is lined with artists selling their paintings. Stroll and browse the artwork, or relax at one of the many sidewalk cafes around the square and watch the artists at work while you sip a glass of wine. This spot IS very touristy, but in a way that’s still quite charming.

6. Visit the Dalí Paris museum

One of the best museums in Montmartre is the Dalí Paris museum, dedicated to Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Dalí lived in Paris for several years, and spent time here on and off throughout the rest of his life.

The museum in Montmartre contains more than 300 sculptures and paintings from Dalí, and is one of the largest private collections of his work. The museum is small, but well-curated and worth a look. Best of all, this is one museum in Paris that’s open every day!

7. See the cute Rue de l’Abreuvoir (and La Maison Rose)

Ivy-covered building on Rue de l'Abreuvoir in Montmartre
Rue de l’Abreuvoir

If you want to channel your own “Emily in Paris” vibes, then you want to head to Rue de l’Abreuvoir, the most photographed street in Montmartre. This quaint cobblestone lane is lined with trees and ivy-covered buildings, and you can just glimpse the domes of Sacré-Cœur in the background.

You’ll usually find people taking photos on this street, especially at the end where La Maison Rose sits. La Maison Rose (which means “The Pink House” in French) is a pretty pastel pink building with green shutters located on the corner of the street.

La Maison Rose on the corner of Rue de l'Abreuvoir
La Maison Rose

Not only is it great for photos, but it’s also a good restaurant to stop in for lunch or dinner in Montmartre if you want to enjoy some traditional French cuisine. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance because it’s quite popular!

8. Visit the Montmartre Museum

Street in Montmartre
Entrance to the Musee de Montmartre on the left

Montmartre is not a museum-heavy neighborhood (which I love about it!), but if you encounter a rainy day or simply want to learn more about the arrondissement’s art-filled past, then a visit to the Musée de Montmartre is worth it.

This museum is actually located in a 17th-century house and garden where Renoir once worked when he lived here, and comprises a permanent collection of art that traces Montmartre’s history. The museum also has a recreated atelier-apartment, and a garden cafe with great views.

(Note: You CAN pre-book a ticket for the museum/garden, though you usually don’t need to.)

9. Visit a Montmartre vineyard

Grapevines at Vigne du Clos Montmartre, a vineyard in Montmartre
Vigne du Clos Montmartre

One thing you might not expect to see in the middle of Paris is vineyards, but that’s just what you’ll find at the Vigne du Clos Montmartre. This small urban vineyard was created in 1933 by the City of Paris, and for a long time it was closed to the public – you could only glimpse it from the street through a fence.

However, the Vigne du Clos Montmartre has recently opened for tours, which is an incredibly unique experience you shouldn’t miss.

This walking tour of Montmartre includes a knowledgeable local guide and an exclusive private tour and wine tasting at the Vigne du Clos Montmartre (super unique!). You’ll also explore other sights around the neighborhood, including the Montmartre Museum.

10. Enjoy drinks at a local cafe 

After you’ve spent some time walking around Montmartre, take a rest at one of the many cafes dotting the neighborhood and enjoy a coffee, wine, or a bite to eat.

On my first visit to Montmartre, I was determined to find the “Amelie cafe,” AKA the Café des Deux Moulins, AKA the cafe featured in the film Amélie. The cafe is still there, and has embraced its quirky film ties.

But there are lots of great cafes and brasseries in this neighborhood to enjoy. Check out Café Tabac/Cafe Genovese or The Beans on Fire for a good coffee.

11. See the Wall of Love

Wall of Love mural in Montmartre
Wall of Love

While you’re in Montmartre, don’t miss stopping by the Wall of Love, or Le Mur des Je T’aime. Located by the Abbesses Metro stop in a small park, this wall is painted with “I love you” in many different languages.

It’s the perfect backdrop for a unique photo, and one of the coolest murals in Paris. (It’s also a popular spot for marriage proposals – I saw one on my last visit!)

12. Join the crowds to watch the sunset at the Sacré-Cœur steps

People sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur to watch the sunset
Sunset time at Sacre Coeur

The steps in front of Sacré-Cœur are one of the best spots in Paris to watch the sunset. Situated at the top of the hill high above Paris and facing west, the steps offer an amazing vantage point with sweeping views over the whole city.

The steps and grassy area in front of the basilica usually draw large crowds in the evening, especially during the warm summer months.

View from Sacre Coeur steps
The view over Paris

Just a few things to note if you’re going to check this one off your bucket list: First, there will be men selling bottled beer and other drinks, but it’s *technically* not legal to drink on the street here after 4 p.m. Secondly, this is a prime spot for opportunistic pickpockets and other scammers, so be sure to always be aware of your surroundings. (And consider investing in a pickpocket-proof purse or backpack!)

13. See a show at the Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge lit up at night
Moulin Rouge at night

The Moulin Rouge is one of the most iconic buildings in Montmartre; you can’t miss this historic cabaret with its bright red windmill on its facade. Founded in 1889, this cabaret is most famous for being the birthplace of the can-can dance. It’s an icon of Belle Époque Paris, and it inspired cabaret entertainment all around the world.

Today, the Moulin Rouge still operates as an entertainment venue, and you can enjoy an evening of cabaret that will transport you back to the late 19th century. The shows are burlesque-heavy, and may seem risque to many – definitely not kid-friendly! But still so much fun.

You can book a ticket for either a Moulin Rouge show, or a show with dinner. It’s a splurge, but most people agree it’s worth it!

14. Just wander! 

Street scene in Montmartre

Finally, one of the best things to do in Montmartre is simply wander around the neighborhood’s charming, hilly streets. Don’t miss the top attractions in Montmartre, but also spend some time getting off the main tourist track and exploring the smaller side streets.

There are so many pretty views, windmills, statues, and more to stumble across as you explore Montmartre, and you’re guaranteed to find some hidden gems if you go for a stroll. 

(As always, just keep in mind that normal everyday people live in this neighborhood. Be respectful, and don’t get TOO nosy.)

View of Eiffel Tower from Montmartre hill
Look out for peek-a-boo Eiffel Tower views
Metro sign in Montmartre
Montmartre has some classic Metro station signs

Where to stay in Montmartre

I’ve never personally stayed in Montmartre (mostly because of all the hills and stairs, to be honest; no one wants to drag a suitcase around that), but if you want to base yourself here, the hotels I’d recommend are:

  • Terrass” Hotel This 100+ year-old hotel is near Sacre-Coeur and has rooms designed to resemble artists’ dressing rooms. Some rooms have Eiffel Tower views.
  • Mom’Art Hotel This art-filled hotel has a boutique vibe, and is in a convenient location.
  • Hotel le Chat Noir This hotel near the Moulin Rouge dedicates each floor to a famous writer or artist from the cabaret era.

Where to eat in Montmartre

A lot of the restaurants in the heart of Montmartre are quite touristy, but a few spots I can personally recommend include:

  • Le Coq & Fils – An excellent chicken spot
  • Le Poulbot – A small place serving classic dishes
  • Le Consulat – Famous restaurant that still serves good food

And if you want to venture just outside of Montmartre and into Pigalle, these spots are also worth it:

  • Bouillon Pigalle – The most popular location of this Paris chain (expect a line)
  • Pink Mamma – An Instagram darling that you need reservations for; it also has a speakeasy called No Entry in the basement that is great
Domes of Sacre-Coeur basilica

Great Montmartre tours

Montmartre is an excellent neighborhood to take a walking tour, as you can see all the highlights in just a couple of hours, and having a guide can help bring the history of the neighborhood alive. A few good tour options include:

Is Montmartre a Paris neighborhood you’d like to explore?

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