Everything You Need to Know about Montmartre
Hip, happening and trendy, Montmartre is one of France’s most famous districts. Cobbled, crooked and labyrinthine, it’s like someone took all the romantic Parisian cliches and stuffed them into one hill-topped area.
Attractive and atmospheric, Montmartre is a great place to vacation, live and wander, and it’s one of the most-visited areas of Paris.
So, in this guide, we’ve brought you everything you need to know about Montmartre. We’ve covered food, facts, art, music, things to do, places to stay, and plenty more. Whatever you want to know about Montmartre, it’s in here!
A Speedy Introduction to Montmartre
Montmartre actually used to be a small village of its own. Up until 1860, Montmartre was an independent commune, before it was then absorbed by the mighty sprawl of Paris.
But despite being swallowed up by the city center, Montmartre still retains some of its former elegance, flair and independence. For years, this place was renowned for its artistic heritage, vineyards, orchards and bohemian vibe. And though it’s now a little more urban and organized, Montmartre still feels different from the rest of Paris.
As you probably know, Paris is separated into several different ‘arrondissements’ (that’s just the French word for ‘boroughs’ or ‘districts’ or whatever). There are 20 in total, all offering different atmospheres. Montmartre is situated in arrondissement 18, in the far north of the city center.
Quite where Montmartre begins and ends isn’t exactly clear, and some think that parts of the area spill over into arrondissements 9 and 19. But in the long run, none of that’s really important. Wherever it is, and whatever arrondissements it’s in, Montmartre is great.
Some people complain that Montmartre is overcrowded, and that it’s too tightly-stuffed with tourists. And in some ways, that can be true, especially during the summer. But the reason it’s stuffed with so many tourists is because it’s also stuffed with lots of great things to do.
Here are some of the best of them…
1. Things to Do in Montmartre
Walk around: Yeah, we know this seems like a weird suggestion. But Montmartre is like a tourist attraction of its own. Wandering around the cobbled lanes and maze-like streets is a great way to experience the thrills, flavors and atmosphere of Montmartre—so do it!
Take a walking tour: If you want to wander around Montmartre with the helpful addition of some local insight, a walking tour can give you lots of juicy details on history, heritage, and all that other stuff. Also on offer are food tours and cultural tours.
Visit the Sacré-Cœur: You all knew this one was coming. But rightly so—the Sacré-Cœur is one of the best and most famous religious buildings in the world. Perched high over the area, its interiors are even more special than its iconic exterior.
Enjoy some viewpoints: Because Montmartre is so hilly, it has loads of great viewpoints. The most famous is from the grassy area surrounding the Sacré-Cœur, but there are many more atop the various staircases that clamber Montmartre’s ascents.
Look at some street art: Montmartre is always brimming with artists peddling their wares and displaying their talents. Have a wander to the Artists’ Market in Place du Tertre to see some of it—or to get a portrait painted of yourself!
Have a spin on the Montmartre carousel: This iconic little attraction is one of the oldest carousels in Paris. Cute and quirky, it’s mainly for kids, but you’re never too old for a spot of nostalgia. Right?
Go to the Moulin Rouge: If you don’t watch a show here, you haven’t been to Montmartre. Some of the world’s best cabaret shows, they’re bright, loud and garish in the best way possible. For a night out somehow both raucous and classy, pay a visit.
Visit Montmartre cemetery: Pere Lachaise is the big famous cemetery in Paris, but if you’re an eager little ghoul-seeker on the hunt for more spooky thrills, Montmartre cemetery is great. Quiet, historical and oddly alluring, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Ride a tiny train: Le Petite Train de Montmartre is (as you’ve probably guessed from your rudimentary French skills!) a little train that runs around Montmartre. On a fun little 35-minute jaunt, you ride past some of the district’s most famous sights.
Eat and drink: Montmartre (more so than most places in Paris!) has plenty of lovely bistros, cafes and bars. Lurk around in them all, munching, gulping and people watching. Most locals spend their time doing these three things, so join the fun.
But aside from all that stuff, there’s lots more to enjoy. Next up, we’ve covered art, music and food in much more detail. Let’s start with art…
2. The Art Scene in Montmartre
Paris is known for being one of the most artistic cities on the planet. But what about Montmartre? Can art fiends get a hefty fix of exhibitions and attractions?
The answer to that question is a big fat yes.
Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, Picasso and loads of other famous artists are associated with Montmartre. Some used to live here, some used to work here, and some used to have studios here. Some even did all three.
Obviously, those famous guys aren’t around anymore. But the art scene in Montmartre absolutely still is.
And you get lots of it. From galleries to street artists to some great art history, there’s loads to enjoy. Some of the best art galleries in Montmartre include:
- Dali Paris: No prizes for guessing who this museum is dedicated to. Home to France’s biggest collection of Dali’s work, this place has more than 300 exhibits. With sculptures, paintings, furniture, and loads of other weird and wacky stuff, there’s plenty to enjoy.
- Le Halle St-Pierre: Specializing in art brut, this gallery celebrates underground art, outsider art and pop culture stuff. It’s all about displaying art by people who don’t usually do art. And I know that might not sound impressive, but it’s actually incredible.
- Musée de L’érotisme: Not an art gallery in the traditional sense, but a museum-style collection of erotic exhibits from ancient times to the present day. If you think phallic pottery is funny, you’ll probably like this place.
- Art 21: A mini gallery dedicated to promoting, celebrating and displaying the work of young local artists. It’s a tiny space, but its chic, cozy atmosphere is so uniquely Montmartre.
Aside from all that, there are lots of other kooky and creative artistic things you can enjoy doing and visiting in Montmartre. The district offers art shops, drawing classes, and (as we’ve already covered!) artists and creatives lurking on every corner.
For an insight into what a huge artistic idyll Montmartre once was, head to Musée de Montmartre. Strangely, this place is just outside the confines of Montmartre, but it’s only a short wander away.
At Musée de Montmartre, you can explore 300-year-old houses which were once home to famous artists including Renoir, Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo. The gardens have been delicately renovated, so they look just like they did back when Renoir was patiently painting them. Collections here include artworks and exhibitions that tell the history and heritage of Montmartre, its art and its people. If you’re interested in art history, you’ll absolutely love this place.
3. The Music Scene in Montmartre
Usually, where there’s a good art scene, there’s a good music scene. And that’s absolutely the case in Montmartre, where you can enjoy lots of live music, street performances and plenty more.
Obviously, the most famous music venue in Montmartre is the Moulin Rouge, which (as we’ve already covered!) is fantastic. Just don’t expect to see Nicole Kidman.
But beyond that, there’s loads more great music. Some of the best live music venues in Montmartre are:
- The International Bar: This place has a small, intimate stage, which offers a wide range of different independent artists. Some of the shows are completely free, so it’s a good place for a cut-price night. If you like unknown artists, you’ll love it here.
- La Boule Noir: On the inside, this bar looks like a little speakeasy, with cabaret-style decor and an enthusiastic but hushed atmosphere. Despite its diminutive dimensions and 200-person capacity, the place plays host to lots of big names.
- La Cigale: La Cigale is more of a traditional big-name music venue. With a big capacity and big performers, it’s where you go for arena-style shows. Performers who’ve played here include massive names like Adele, Prince, David Bowie and loads more.
Lots of smaller bars and restaurants also have live music throughout the entire week, both planned and impromptu. If you hear instruments or voices, wander in and see what’s on offer. Usually, it’ll be something good.
You’ll also frequently find lots of street performers in and around the maze-like lanes of Montmartre. Busking is a big part of Parisian culture, so you’ll always find someone blaring out some jazz, or rap, or some funky cover of a famous song.
If you’re particularly interested in sounds and songs, have a stroll over to the Paris Museum of Music. It’s just outside of Montmartre, in arrondissement 19. Here, there are more than 1000 instruments and art objects, and lots of exhibits on the history of Parisian music. There are also some rare instruments on show, along with stuff that once belonged to famous musicians. The museum is situated inside the Cité de la Musique, which also has an amphitheatre and a concert hall. Visit them both!
4. The Food Scene in Montmartre
Paris is famous for its food. And lucky for you, Montmartre offers some of the best in the city, with lots of cafes, bistros and other enticing eateries. Some of the best restaurants in Montmartre include:
- Le Café de la Poste: This might be called a cafe, but in reality, it’s actually more of a restaurant. Here, you get great steak, cheeses, burgers and wine, and excellent traditional French food.
- Sacrée Fleur: This rustic-cum-contemporary eatery specializes in big hefty servings of meat. If you don’t eat meat, don’t worry: there are also lots of delicious vegetarian options too.
- Le Poulbot: Here, you get traditional tastes with a contemporary twist. The most popular dishes include duck confit, snails, onion soup, and loads of other classic French tastes. If you want to eat real French food, this is one of the best restaurants in Paris.
- Hardware Société: Right underneath the Sacré-Cœur, this brunch spot specializes in excellent eggs, coffees, French toast and more. If you like breakfast foods, you’ll absolutely love this place.
Montmartre also has lots of great cafes. Some of the best cafes in Montmartre are:
- Soul Kitchen: This cute little hangout is a gluten-free haven, and serves up brilliant coffees and lunches. The menus change everyday, and the decor is laid-back and casual. It’s like someone took a canteen and made it trendy. How Montmartre!
- La Bossue: With beautiful pastries and coffees, and homely wooden decor, this place is famous as one of the best sweet treat spots in Paris. But here’s a warning for all you cake-hunters and coffee fiends: La Bossue is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Cafe Tabac: Tiny, cozy and welcoming, Cafe Tabac is popular with locals and tourists. Some say it serves up the best coffee in Paris! Here, simplicity reigns supreme—they do all the basic stuff ridiculously well.
On top of the particular places we’ve recommended above, here’s another handy tip for finding good eats in Montmartre: eat where the locals eat. Broadly speaking (though not always!), you should eat at restaurants that aren’t within 3 or 4 blocks of tourist attractions, and where you don’t get an English-language menu as standard. If a busy place fits that criteria, you can guarantee it’ll be a top-quality (and usually affordable!) local hangout.
If you’re interested in learning about French food, consider a food tour. The top tours will take you to all the best stores and snacks, bringing you the ultimate in Montmartre’s meals and morsels. Book a food tour with good reviews and you’ll enjoy some tasty, traditional, authentic stuff. And who knows, you might just learn something along the way.
You should also try a French cooking class. There are some great classes in and around Montmartre, where you can learn to cook some local specialities including croissants, macarons and loads more. During some of these classes, you’ll be taken to local markets to buy (and learn about!) great local produce.
Whether you’re on a food tour or not, it’s always best to buy your food from local markets rather than chain hypermarkets. Here, you get the best food, the best flavors, and the best insights into how Montmartre’s residents live. But the best way to get these insights is by moving to Montmartre yourself. Considering it? Here’s all the info you need to know…
5. Living in Montmartre
Most tourists only visit Montmartre for a few hours as part of a bigger Paris trip. Occasionally, some might stay for a week.
But if you’re considering actually moving to Montmartre (good choice, by the way), we’ve covered some things you might want to know, bringing you facts about rent, prices, perks, the best things about living in Montmartre, and how you can find an apartment.
Planning a big move? Read on!
What is it like living in Montmartre?
Surprisingly great. It’s especially good to stay for a short few months, so you can appreciate the place as a long-term tourist (rather than as a full-time resident, or just on a whistlestop tour). Because it’s a tourist hub, some people think living in Montmartre might be busy or stressful. But none of that is true—living in Montmartre has lots of perks. Here are a few of them:
- You get beyond the tourist stuff: Yeah, all of Montmartre’s tourist attractions are great, but even better is the energy and the atmosphere of the area. After a few days and weeks here, you can start to appreciate what Montmartre is truly about.
- You can fully explore all of Paris: Paris is huge, and you could probably spend years in the city without getting bored. So if you live in Paris for a while, you can explore it properly, and not just hit the tourist sites on a speedy few-day tour.
- You’re close to some quieter districts: Right beside Montmatrte are some of Paris’ most underrated and under explored districts. Arrondissements 17 and 19, for example, deserve way more love and attention.
- It’s trendy: If you like kooky people and creative hangouts, you’ll love living in Montmartre. You’ll have lots of bohemian buddies, and you’ll always be surrounded by artistic events and opportunities. Perfect if you’re a creative digital nomad!
- You get lots of cafes: Again, if you’re a digital nomad, Montmartre is great. There are countless cafes to choose from, so you can always find a new place to work. Perfect if you’re low on inspiration and you need a new atmosphere.
- It’s beautiful: Montmartre is one of the most beautiful districts in Paris. Sometimes, big cities can be ugly—but who wants to live in the ugly part of a city?
Great nightlife: The nightlife is classy and cosmopolitan, and late-night bars are always crammed with happening hipsters. For an artistic, alternative and (relatively) laid-back night out, Montmartre is fantastic.
What is the average rent in Montmartre?
Paris is pretty pricey, as you probably already know.
According to Numbeo, here’s a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay for a Paris apartment:
- One-bedroom apartment in the city center: 1,237€
- One-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: 883€
- Three-bedroom apartment in the city center: 2,915€
- Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: 1,944€
(Numbeo, by the way, is great for finding all kinds of costs.)
If you’re planning on staying in a short-term rental rather than a long-term rental, the prices will likely be a little steeper than the above.
But here’s some good news: Montmartre is slightly cheaper than central Paris. So not only will you have a better time, you’ll also get it for a better price! If you want to live in a good part of Paris without spending ridiculous amounts of money, moving to Montmartre is a brilliant solution.
Yes, living in Paris can be expensive. But it absolutely doesn’t need to be.
How do I find an apartment in Montmartre?
That sort of depends upon how long you’re staying.
If you’re staying for a long while, you have a few different options:
The first is good old Facebook. There are endless different Facebook groups where you can find lots of different rentals in Montmartre. Other popular options for finding rentals include Leboncoin, Craigslist and Fusac.fr.
Word of mouth is always a brilliant tool too, but for that to work, you’ll need to find a short place to stay before finding those mouths (and the words in them!) for yourself. So if you want to arrive in Montmartre before you find a long-term place to stay, consider renting a short-term place for a little while.
If you’re only staying in Montmartre for a short few months, you don’t want to mess around with Facebook, landlords, or any of those French-speaking sites. Instead, it’s always way easier to get a short-term serviced flat or serviced apartment. That way, you don’t need to pay any deposits, you don’t need to worry about maintenance, and you don’t need to buy any furniture. It’s the easiest, most low-fuss way to move to a new place.
If you’re looking for a serviced apartment in Montmartre, or a flat in Montmartre, we have an excellent selection. Our apartments are all fully furnished, and they’re ready to move into today. You don’t need to pay a deposit, you don’t need to organize anything for yourself, and you don’t need to worry. For the most simple and stress-free move to Montmartre (or any other part of Paris!), Homelike is here!