Montmartre Walking Tour (Self Guided), Paris

Originally named “Mons Martis”, meaning the “Mount of Mars”, Montmartre is one of the most famous and visited neighborhoods in Paris. Beyond the Sacré-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge and notable landmarks, the district is also about the atmosphere, the narrow streets, and the artsy culture that has made Paris famous. Once home to artists such as Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, Montmartre continues its proud tradition of fostering art, culture and the bohemian lifestyle.

If you’ve made it all the way up, a visit to the magnificent Sacré-Coeur Basilica is mandatory; however, equally interesting from an architectural and historical perspective is the Saint-Pierre church next door – a 12th-century gem with a preserved Roman-built column within, not to be missed.

Head to the Montmartre Museum for some interesting facts and exhibitions about the area & history of the cabaret, following which the Dalí Paris Museum has its own share of interesting facts and stories behind the Spanish artist and his artworks.

Outdoor attractions include the picturesque Place du Tertre, where you will be able to discover the neighborhood’s artistic spirit; the Wall of Love – a fun place to get your language feel by seeing “I Love You” in multiple languages; and the Montmartre Cemetery with its beautiful stone angels and many famous dead souls including Degas, Stendhal, Foucault, Truffaut, and great chanteuse Dalida.

For an excellent day out in Montmartre, follow this self-guided walking tour!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Montmartre Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Montmartre Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Sacré-Coeur Basilica
  • Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre
  • Montmartre Museum
  • Lapin Agile
  • Place du Tertre
  • Dali Paris Museum
  • Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je t'aime)
  • Le Bateau-Lavoir – Picasso's Old Studio
  • Moulin de la Galette
  • Van Gogh's Apartment
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Montmartre Cemetery
1
Sacré-Coeur Basilica

1) Sacré-Coeur Basilica (must see)

The white dome of Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur Basilica, sits majestically atop the arty district of Montmartre with a breathtaking view of the city of Paris.

Distinctive and imposing, the basilica was built between 1870 and 1919, by the French government as a symbol of the return of self-confidence after the devastating years of Franco-Prussian War and to reassert the power of the Catholic Church. Built on the top of the Montmartre hill, the highest point of the basilica is even higher than the top of the Eiffel Tower. Due to its prominent location, Sacré-Coeur is one of the most noticeable landmarks in Paris.

Don't get too seduced by its majestic views of Paris and miss spending some time inside. The beautiful golden mosaic set high above the choir is definitely worthy of some awed gazing. The largest and most eye-catching mosaic is called Christ in Majesty and it is meant to symbolize France's devotion to the Sacred Heart. Whether you are a devotee to Sacred Heart or not, it is hard to take your eyes away from it.

Why You Should Visit:
The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur is one of the best known Parisian landmarks and the 2nd most visited church in Paris after Nôtre-Dame Cathedral. The inside of the church is exquisite and beautiful, and the view from its stairs is unbeatable!

Tip:
You will need a level of fitness to climb the stairs; however, you can also get inside a cable car for a small fee. Alternately, you can hop on the free mini-train which starts from opposite the Windmill Theater in Montmartre and stops behind Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-8pm
2
Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre

2) Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre

Nestled in below the imposing Sacre Coeur and across from the bustling Place de Tertre, St. Pierre’s is the oldest church in Montmartre and one of the oldest in Paris. It was the church of the Abbaye des Dames de Montmartre, an abbey founded in 1133 by Queen Adelaide de Savoie and King Louis VI. In spite of its humble exterior and modest size, St. Pierre de Montmartre holds an important place in the fabric and history of Montmartre.

Before being built some 800 years ago, the grounds of the church were home to a Roman temple to Mercury. Several of those original pillars are still standing and can be viewed in the church.

Contrary to the always crowded neighboring Sacre Coeur Basilica, the place is a little oasis of calm. There are beautiful stained glass windows and an amazing wooden sculpture of Jesus. Definitely worth a look and a free place for a sit down whether you're a spiritual person or not.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-7pm
3
Montmartre Museum

3) Montmartre Museum

The Montmartre Museum is a historical museum that recounts the history of Montmartre from its very beginning. On display here are old maps, original documents, photographs and many other objects of historical importance related to the most famous district of Paris. The museum is housed in one of the city's oldest buildings, dated the 17th century.

The building was the former home and studio of several famous artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Suzanne Valadon. Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted his celebrated "La Balançoire" and "Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette" here in 1876.

The museum features a pretty courtyard, full of giant fuchsias. There is a beautiful garden around the building that gives the look and feel of the 17th-century life. Inside the building, you can see pictures, sketches and souvenirs outlining the true story of Montmartre.

Exhibits rotate frequently and are devoted to artists of many different styles. The historical display includes sections dedicated to the Revolution of 1789, the Russian invasion of 1814, the Commune in 1870, and the construction of the Sacred Heart in 1875. Here, you can also see the original sign that Andre Gill produced for the cabaret Lapin Agile, along with sketches and posters by Theophile Steinlen.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-7pm (Apr-Sep); 10am-6pm (Oct-Mar)
Last entry: 45mins before closing
4
Lapin Agile

4) Lapin Agile

Lapin Agile is an informal cabaret venue established in 1850. It is situated in the center of the Montmartre district of Paris, near the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Originally called "Cabaret des Assassins" in the mid 19th century, it was named so because of a gang of murderers who burst into the building and killed the owner's son. With the passage of time, the name had changed to Lapin Agile.

In 1875, the artist Andre Gill painted a sign, featuring the rabbit jumping out of a pan, upon which the locals promptly took to calling it Le Lapin à Gill (Gill's Rabbit). At the end of the 19th century and the outset of the 20th, the Lapin was a favorite spot for artists and writers, such as Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire and Utrillo. Eventually, the name of the place has transformed to Cabaret Au Lapin Agile, by which it is still known today.

In 1905, Picasso captured the cabaret on his world famous oil painting, At the Lapin Agile. The picture sold at an auction in the 1980s for many millions of pounds, thus bringing the cabaret a great deal of fame. It is currently displayed at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Over the years, many other artists have captured the cabaret in their works, too.

For over one and a half centuries, Lapin Agile has been beaconing light on the northern slope of Montmartre. This somewhat strange looking, but lovely little house welcomes visitors with French songs, some of which date back to the fifteenth century. Its walls are covered with souvenirs, paintings, poems and testimonies.

Today, Lapin Agile is just as famous as it was in the past. Initials of its former patrons can still be seen carved out on the wooden tables. This authentic Parisian club is suitable for a family outing and is usually rather busy, so advance reservations are highly recommended.

A good variety of incredible singers and poets perform here live on a regular basis, sometimes taking as long as four hours per show, creating an incredibly warm atmosphere and making the time spent at Lapin Agile well worth remembering.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9pm-1am
5
Place du Tertre

5) Place du Tertre

Place du Tertre is a public square famous for hosting many of Paris's most celebrated artists. Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Maurice Utrillo created an artistic community here, thanks to the inexpensive rent and tax-free wine. Today, the artistic spirit lives on. Tourists flock to this square to buy local art and have their portraits painted.

The name, Place du Tertre is sometimes interpreted as "Grave Hill," but a more accurate description is "public square on a small hill." This perfectly describes this quaint, lively square.

Competition for artist space in Place Du Tertre is fierce. There's a ten-year waiting list for a tiny space of about three square feet. This space is then shared by two different artists who work on alternating days. The only allowable art in the square are paintings, portraits, silhouettes, and caricatures.

A popular legend states that the word bistro was invented in the square. In 1814, Russian troops were stationed here. Soldiers would shout bystro, meaning quick in Russian, to encourage their comrades to finish their drinks and return to their stations.

Today, there are many bistros, cafes, and restaurants lining the square. You won't see Picasso or Van Gogh, but you can celebrate the next generation of artists and join in this lively community. Take part in the Parisian tradition--sit outside a bistro, enjoy the fresh air, and watch the artists at work.
6
Dali Paris Museum

6) Dali Paris Museum

Dali Paris Museum is situated right next to the picturesque Place du Tertre in the Montmartre area. This unique permanent exhibition is dedicated solely to the art of Salvador Dalí and houses over 300 original works of the artist – the largest collection of Dalinian sculptures and engravings in France.

Salvador Dali is one of the world's most acclaimed artists of the 20th century and a recognized master of surrealism. He was born in Spain in 1904. Initially an Impressionist, Dali discovered Cubism in 1921. His works comprise, apart from paintings, three-dimensional sculptures and engravings.

The outstanding exhibit reveals hidden sides of the Catalan Master’s imagination. The museum also displays some of his clothing design and a film. The film is shown deep inside the corridor, something one doesn't get to see very often at an art gallery. Famous original sculptures, such as "Space Elephant" and "Alice in Wonderland", are featured here alongside some of Dali's works on paper, including "Moses and Monotheism", "Memories of Surrealism", etc.

Visitors will also get a chance to have a detailed look at the creative process behind some of Salvador Dali's most celebrated works.

Why You Should Visit:
A fascinating exhibition, perfect for Dali aficionados or for anyone wishing to understand the motivations and meaning behind Dali's work.

Tip:
There is a lovely gift shop at the end and even the opportunity to buy some of the artwork if you feel like spending some serious money.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6:30pm (last entry: 6pm)
7
Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je t'aime)

7) Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je t'aime)

Paris is regarded as one of the most romantic cities in the world so it should come to no one's surprise that there is an attraction dedicated to love – simple but very effective and a nice change from old monuments and buildings.

The Wall of Love is a love-themed wall of 40 sq m (430 sq ft) in the Jehan Rictus garden square in Montmartre. The wall was created in 2000 by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito and is composed of 612 tiles of enameled lava, on which the phrase 'I love you' is featured 311 times in 250 languages.

The Wall of Love has since become a popular site for romantic occasions including proposals, engagement, wedding photo shoots, and everything else related to love. The surrounding small park has plenty of vegetation and benches to sit down for a rest. On frequent occasions, you will see band playing live music next to the wall, too.

Tip:
The red splashes on the wall symbolize parts of a broken heart. See if you can piece them back together to form a full heart.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-6pm
Free admission
8
Le Bateau-Lavoir – Picasso's Old Studio

8) Le Bateau-Lavoir – Picasso's Old Studio

Le Bateau-Lavoir is the place in Montmartre which was once densely inhabited by artists and people of literature. Originally a piano factory, the building was later made into several art studios which played an incredible role in early 20th-century art history.

Max Jacob, French poet and painter in the early 20th century, called it Le Bateau (Washhouse Boat) for its resemblance to a laundry boat. Later, the small square in front of the building was named Place Émile Goudeau after the eponymous French novelist, poet and journalist.

Painter, Maxime Maufra, was the first tenant at Le Bateau in 1890. From 1904, it was predominantly occupied by emerging artists and writers, as well as actors and art dealers, most of whom were extremely poor and unappreciated.

It became an unofficial club that included artists Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Marie Laurencin, Modigliani, Jean-Paul Laurens, Maurice Utrillo, to name a few; and writers such as Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, Jean Cocteau, Gustave Coquiot, among others.

Picasso lived here from 1904 to 1912, and painted his world-famous “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", "Young Girl with a Flower Basket", and "Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe)". Othon Friesz painted “The Reclining Nude” whilst staying at Le Bateau in 1905.

It was at this informal art club that Picasso voiced for the first time the concept of cubism. Daily discussions took place in the studios and spilled out into the neighboring cafes. Slowly, the old style of painting was abandoned and a new aesthetic doctrine started to emerge.

The First World War that broke out in 1914 forced many artists to leave Montmartre for a more comfortable, calmer residence. With the emergence of the artistic scene in Montparnasse after WWI and notably La Ruche, Le Bateau-Lavoir lost its beauty.

In 1970, the wooden structure caught a fire and only the façade survived the incident. Fortunately, the edifice was rebuilt eight years later. Today, the birthplace of Cubism is no longer open to the public, but its front window, filled with old photographs, vividly depicts the eventful history of the place. If you have a heart for art, you absolutely must not miss this place!
9
Moulin de la Galette

9) Moulin de la Galette

The Moulin de la Galette is the name of a windmill and associated bar and restaurant in Montmartre. The windmill was built in 1622, but what gives the place its current fame is the bar and restaurant bearing the same name.

In the 19th century, Le Moulin de la Galette represented diversion for Parisians seeking entertainment, a glass of wine and bread made from flour ground by the windmill. Artists, such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro immortalized Le Moulin de la Galette in their paintings. The most famous among them was Renoir's festive painting "Bal du moulin de la Galette".

The place had a tragic history in its past. The Debray family acquired the mill in 1809 for producing flour. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, during the siege of Paris three Debray men lost their lives defending the windmill against Cossacks. The killed men were nailed to the wings of the windmill.

In 1833, the Debray family converted the place into a bar and restaurant. The idea proved successful and Moulin de la Galette soon drew many Parisians who enjoyed the freshly baked galettes with a glass of wine, and the panoramic views of Paris and the river Seine from the top of the hill.

The Moulin de la Galette was declared a monument in 1958. Today the windmill marks the entrance of the bar and restaurant that offers an extensive menu. In good weather, it is still an excellent place to sip the locally made wine and enjoy the music in its garden, just like what Parisians used to do in Renoir's famous painting.
10
Van Gogh's Apartment

10) Van Gogh's Apartment

In June of 1886, Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo moved into this spacious – by Parisian standards – apartment on Rue Lepic in Montmartre. Vincent had his own studio, a room with a small window, and his bedroom was a small room known as the cabinet. At the front of the apartment were Theo's room and the living room.

The apartment is on the 4th floor with a view of the city. Vincent painted the view in several of his paintings. But Vincent preferred being outside on the streets of Montmartre to capture the subjects in the neighborhood: the outdoor life, the windmills on the hill, and the cafes.

Vincent eventually got tired of busy city life, so in February 1888, he moved out this apartment and went to the south of France in search of brighter light and peace of the countryside.

The apartment building at 54 Rue Lepic remains a point of interest, especially now that the hilly, atmospheric street houses many very nice restaurants and cafés.
11
Moulin Rouge

11) Moulin Rouge (must see)

Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) originally opened in 1889, the same year the Eiffel Tower was constructed. Throughout its long history, the Moulin Rouge has offered world-class dance entertainment.

Moulin Rouge became a meeting place for Parisians and visitors from all walks of life. The uber-rich, society ladies, middle class, artists, and foreign visitors all rubbed shoulders in this elegant cabaret. The can-can dance was popularized here. Today, you can book a table, enjoy dinner and champagne, and take in a magical dance performance.

Over its 130 year history, Moulin Rouge has hosted countless celebrities and royal guests. In 1890, the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, came to the Moulin Rouge to see the new and riveting can-can dance. In 1891, artist Toulouse-Lautrec painted his first poster for Moulin Rouge.

Ginger Rogers performed on stage in 1979 for Moulin Rouge's 90th anniversary. Queen Elizabeth II attended a private show in 1981. Other members of the British royal family have visited the Moulin Rouge over the years, including Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana.

Liza Minnelli, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra took part in special galas. The 100th anniversary was celebrated with a gala including Lauren Bacall, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jerry Lewis.

The original building burned down in 1915. The re-build was completed in 1921. In 1951, the building had an intensive renovation, and this decor is in place today.

Moulin Rouge has been featured in countless books, plays, and films over the years. The 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, directed by Baz Luhrmann, re-popularized this vibrant and one-of-a-kind place.

Why You Should Visit

Moulin Rouge has been the center of Parisian nightlife for over 130 years and has influenced entertainment across the world. See why celebrities, artists, and royalty are drawn to this one-of-a-kind entertainment scene.

Tips

Visit at sunset for photos of Moulin Rouge's windmill and neon signs lit up against a darkening sky.
12
Montmartre Cemetery

12) Montmartre Cemetery

The Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris usually gets all of the attention but Montmartre's cemetery has similarly impressive tombs. Sprawling at the foot of Montmartre, near the beginning of Rue Caulaincourt in Place Clichy, this cemetery is built below street level in the hollow of an old quarry with its entrance on Avenue Rachel under Rue Caulaincourt.

The cemetery epitomizes the artsy, quixotic, gentle, almost whimsical Paris that every romantic visitor secretly cherishes. A popular tourist destination, it is every bit as interesting as Père Lachaise and is the final resting place of many famous artists who lived and worked in the Montmartre area, including painter and sculptor Edgar Degas, composer Hector Berlioz, filmmaker François Truffaut, singer-songwriter Jim Morrison, and writers Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, and Stendhal, among others.

Tip:
Entry is free and a map is provided to help visitors locate various crypts/chapels. Step up to each of these to get a glimpse of stained glass windows and/or ornate interiors.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat: 8:30am-6pm; Sun: 9am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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