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, Montmarte continues its proud tradition of fostering art, culture and the bohemian lifestyle.
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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: 13
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
  • Espace Dalí (Dalí Paris)
  • Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je t'aime)
  • Le Bateau-Lavoir – Picasso's Old Studio
  • Moulin de la Galette
  • Van Gogh's Apartment
  • Café des 2 Moulins
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Montmartre Cemetery
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 beauty of this landmark is best appreciated as you climb the stairs to the top.
Once at the top, the inside of the church is exquisite and beautiful. And, if you are lucky to climb the stairs on a clear day, you will witness one of the city's most glorious views!

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

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
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.

Contrary to the always overcrowded 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.

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 can be viewed in the church; that they are still standing is fantastic!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Montmartre Museum

3) Montmartre Museum

The Musée de Montmartre 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, that has been blessed with the presence, at various times, of many nationally and internationally recognized artists and other famous personalities. One of them, painter Auguste Renoir, had a studio here in 1876, in which he added finishing touches to one of his most celebrated paintings, “Moulin de la Galette.”

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. There is an extremely rich and diverse collection that has been in existence since 1886, held by the scholars of the Society of Old 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. The quiet museum in a beautifully restored 17th-century mansion also serves as a cultural centre offering its members a venue for conferences, shows and concerts.

Visitors are provided complimentary audio guides in a variety of languages so that they can undertake self guided tours through the several buildings and the grounds.
The museum gardens overlook the vineyards of Montmartre and provide spectacular vistas of Paris.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-7pm (Apr-Sep); 10am-6pm (Oct-Mar)
Last entry: 45mins before closing
Sight description based on wikipedia
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.

Don’t expect “cabaret” or “drinks” – this place is about singers and songs.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9pm-1am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place du Tertre

5) Place du Tertre

The Place du Tertre is a square in the Montmartre district. With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there. Prominent in the square is a cafe, Au Clairon des Chasseurs, which is famous for its reasonably priced local cuisine, and as a bonus, its constant live music which is in the style of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France. L'Espace Salvador Dalí, a museum principally dedicated to the sculpture and drawings of Salvador Dalí, can be found a few steps from Place du Tertre.

Aside from selling their own artwork, the artists here also offer to do portraits and caricatures if you are interested in something more personal.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Espace Dalí (Dalí Paris)

6) Espace Dalí (Dalí Paris) (must see)

Salvador Dalí 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, Dalí discovered Cubism in 1921. His works comprise, apart from paintings, three-dimensional sculptures and engravings. L'Espace Dalí museum in Paris 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 Dalínian sculptures and engravings in France.

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 Dalí'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 Dalí's most celebrated works. L’Espace Dalí is a great place to visit for the whole family and a pleasant escape from the crowd of Montmartre.

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

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.
The area around the museum is lively with various artists doing caricatures, cartoons, paintings, etc. Lots of good places to eat and spend some time.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6:30pm (last entry: 6pm)
Sight description based on wikipedia
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 live music groups playing next to the wall, too.

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
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.

French painter, Max Jacob, in the early years of the 20th century called it Le Bateau (the 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 singer. 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, art dealers and even inquisitive strangers, most of whom were extremely poor and unappreciated. After Maufra, Kees van Dongen and, later, Pablo Picasso lived here. Picasso quartered from 1904 to 1912, and produced here his world-famous “The Third Rose” and “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.” 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 of Picasso and Juan Gris, 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, the Bateau-Lavoir lost its beauty. In 1970, the wooden structure did not resist a fire and only the façade, classified as a historical monument, survived this accident. Fortunately, eight years later, the edifice was rebuilt. 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 flair for art, you absolutely must not miss it!
Sight description based on wikipedia
Moulin de la Galette

9) Moulin de la Galette

The Moulin de la Galette is the name of a windmill and associated business in upper Montmartre, also known as Blute-fin (“sifting flour”) Windmill. It was built in 1622, and eventually gained much popularity, and not just for its milling service. Owned by the Debray family, in the 19th century it earned a reputation for the extremely tasty brown bread galette (sea biscuit) sold with a glass of milk, to which the place owes its name. In 1830 the milk gave way to wine, a particular Montmartre brand, and thus, the windmill turned into a cabaret. Parisians frequented the place to enjoy the freshly baked galettes with a glass of wine, and enjoy the panoramic views of Paris and the river Seine from the top of the hill.

During the Franco-Prussian War, Montmartre was invaded by 20,000 Prussian troops. Pierre-Charles Debray, the windmill's owner, was brutally murdered while trying to defend his property; his body was nailed to the windmill's wings. A communal grave for those died in the battle was made near the Moulin de la Galette. In 1833, the Debray family converted the place into a viewing tower and a dance floor. The idea proved successful and the owner's flair for dancing and enthusiasm soon drew more visitors. A number of old-time shops, orchards and two windmills are still present in Montmartre. The Moulin de la Galette was declared a monument in 1939. Restored in 1978, it is now private property and, sadly, no longer open to the general public. The windmill, however, marks the entrance to an eponymous-named bistro.

The bistro has an extensive menu, is beautiful inside, has AC and is very comfortable with two outside patios as well.
Sight description based on wikipedia
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. His bedroom is 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 the peace of the countryside.

The apartment building at 54 Rue Lepic remains a point of interest, especially now that the hilly, atmospheric street houses lots of very nice restaurants and cafés.
Café des 2 Moulins

11) Café des 2 Moulins

The Café des 2 Moulins (French for "Two Windmills") takes its name from the two nearby historical windmills, Moulin Rouge and Moulin de la Galette. The café has gained considerable fame since its appearance in the 2001 film, 'Amélie', in which it is the workplace of the title character, and has since become a popular tourist destination. The café's interior is exactly like it was in the movie and the window on the side street is decorated with Amelie memorabilia. The photos of lead actress Audry Tautou smile at visitors from behind the glass. The owner has sold the café after much thought under the condition that the interior remains intact.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Moulin Rouge

12) Moulin Rouge (must see)

Moulin Rouge – the Red Mill – is a cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris red-light district, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. Today the Moulin Rouge is a popular tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

The main feature of an evening at the Moulin Rouge is the performance. The venue has become internationally famous as the home of the traditional French can-can, which is still performed there today. The Moulin Rouge lost much of its former reputation as a 'high-class brothel' and it soon became fashionable for French society to visit and see the spectacular cabarets, which have included a can-can ever since.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful French women. Great acrobatic performances. An old-era glamour that sucks you right in.
Even if you don't feel like watching a show at Moulin Rouge, the district itself is very lively and colorful, especially at night. Visiting it immerses you into what Paris nightlife is famous for.

Try to turn up three-quarter of an hour early if you book the Moulin Rouge as you're likely to get a better seating spot.

There are two shows every night at the Moulin Rouge: at 9pm and 11pm (only on Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm until the end of March).
Those who choose dinner are expected at 7pm, with the Moulin Rouge live orchestra.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Montmartre Cemetery

13) 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.

Entry is free and they provide visitors with maps that help 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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Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
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