Montmartre ★★

The always popular place du Tertre (Photo by Alessandro Tortora)
The always popular place du Tertre

The original Bohemian 'hood: The Montmartre district of Paris

One thing's for sure: La Bohème it ain't anymore. Although inundated by tourists these days, Montmartre, an old artists' neighborhood crowning a hill at Paris's northern edge (the 18eme), still has an intriguing village flavor and remains one of the best Parisian areas to wander.

Its southern slopes are familiar to anyone who enjoyed the film Amèlie, its crest is a cobblestoned village once popular with down-and-out Impressionists and now crawling with tourists, and the whole of it is crowned by the confection of the Sacre Coeur basilica.

A stroll through Montmartre

The Abbesses Métro stop is in Montmartre itself, but get off one stop early at Pigalle if you want to see the Moulin Rouge and Paris's old red light district.

Work your way uphill to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (there's a funicular to save you the steep stairs; cost: one Métro ticket), a frosty white neo-Byzantine basilica built from 1876 to 1919 and towering over the city. Climb the dome for a vista that on clear days extends 35 miles.

Some of Montmartre's quirkiest sights include Paris's only vineyard, on rue des Saules, and a pair of windmills visible from rue Lepic (one at rue Girardon, the other a half a block to the west)—built in 1622 to mill flour; turned into outdoor dance halls in the 1870s.

Near the vineyard, at 12–14 rue Cortot, is the Montmartre Museum (tel. (0)1-49-25-89-37;, open daily 10am–6pm), dedicated to the neighborhood in a house that was, at times, occupied by the artistic likes of Van Gogh, Renoir, and Utrillo.

Pay your respects to the writers Stendhal and Dumas, the composers Offenbach and Berlioz, and the painter Degas at their graves in the Cimitère de Montmartre cemetery on avenue Rachel.

Drinks at Au Lapin Agile

There is a ton of restaurants in Montmartre.

After your meal, finish the evening in the Au Lapin Agile—in Picasso and Utrillo's day called Café des Assassins—Paris's most famous foremost spot for traditional folk music.

The steps up to Sacre-Coeur (Photo by Pearlsa)
Sacre Coeur
Paris: Montemarte

The Sacred Heart Basilica atop Montmartre

Photo gallery
  • The always popular place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Alessandro Tortora)
  • View of Montmartre and Basilique Sacré-Cœur (from the top of Printemps Haussmann), Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Bastiaan)
  • Rue Norvins, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Shadowgate)
  • The Moulin de la Galette windmill, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Mike Ault)
  • A vineyard, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Shadowgate)
  • Montmartre cemetery, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Scott Ableman)
  • Place du tertre, the public living room of Montmartre, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Son of Groucho)
  • Street artists set up on place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Shepard4711)
  • Buskers, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Max Braun)
  • Au Lapin Agile, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Shadowgate)
  • The steep streets of Montmartre often turn into staircases, Montmartre, Paris (Photo by Shadowgate)
Montmartre Tours
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How long should I spend in Montmartre?

Give Montmartre at least 90 minutes; preferably two hours. I'd come up here in late afternoon, stick around for sunset from the steps of Sacre-Coeur, then head to a Montmartre restaurant for dinner, followed by drinks at Au Lapin Agile.

Useful French phrases

Useful French for sightseeing

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Où est? ou eh
...the museum le musee luh moo-ZAY
...the church l'eglise leh-GLEEZ
...the cathedral le cathédrale luh ka-teh-DRAHL
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert?  coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme? ah kell eur es kuh suhla fair-MAY
ticket billet d'entrée bee-YAY dahn-TRAY
two adults deux adultes dooz ah-DOOLT
one child un enfant ehn ahn-FAHN
one student un étudiant uh-NETOO-dee-YON

Basic phrases in French

English (anglais) French (français) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you merci mair-SEE
please s'il vous plaît seel-vou-PLAY
yes oui wee
no non no
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? par-lay-VOU on-GLAY
I don't understand Je ne comprende pas zhuh nuh COHM-prohnd pah
I'm sorry Je suis desolée zhuh swee day-zoh-LAY
How much does it cost? Combien coute? coam-bee-YEHN koot
That's too much C'est trop say troh
Good day Bonjour bohn-SZOURH
Good evening Bon soir bohn SWAH
Good night Bon nuit  bohn NWEE
Goodbye Au revoir oh-ruh-VWAH
Excuse me (to get attention) Excusez-moi eh-skooze-ay-MWA
Excuse me (to get past someone) Pardon pah-rRDOHN
Where is? Où est? ou eh
...the bathroom la toilette lah twah-LET
...train station la gare lah gahr

Days, months, and other calendar items in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert? coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? Quand est l'heure de fermeture?   coan eh lure duh fair-mah-TOUR
At what time... à quelle heure... ah kell uhre
Yesterday hier ee-AIR
Today aujoud'hui ow-zhuhr-DWEE
Tomorrow demain duh-MEHN
Day after tomorrow après demain ah-PRAY duh-MEHN
a day un jour ooun zhuhr
Monday Lundí luhn-DEE
Tuesday Maredí mar-DEE
Wednesday Mercredi mair-cray-DEE
Thursday Jeudi zhuh-DEE
Friday Vendredi vawn-druh-DEE
Saturday Samedi saam-DEE
Sunday Dimanche DEE-maansh
a month un mois ooun mwa
January janvier zhan-vee-YAIR
February février feh-vree-YAIR
March mars mahr
April avril ah-VREEL
May mai may
June juin zhuh-WAH
July juillet zhuh-LYAY
August août ah-WOOT
September septembre sep-TUHM-bruh
October octobre ok-TOE-bruh
November novembre noh-VAUM-bruh
December décembre day-SAHM-bruh

Numbers in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 un ehn
2 deux douh
3 trois twa
4 quatre KAH-truh
5 cinq sank
6 six sees
7 sept sehp
8 huit hwhee
9 neuf nuhf
10 dix dees
11 onze ownz
12 douze dooz
13 treize trehz
14 quatorze kah-TOHRZ
15 quinze cans
16 seize sez
17 dix-sept dee-SEP
18 dix-huit dee-SWEE
19 dix-neuf dee-SNEUHF
20 vingt vahn
21* vingt et un * vahnt eh UHN
22* vingt deux * vahn douh
23* vingt trois * vahn twa
30 trente truhnt
40 quarante kah-RAHNT
50 cinquante sahn-KAHNT
60 soixante swaa-SAHNT
70 soixante-dix swa-sahnt-DEES
80 quatre-vents  kat-tra-VAHN
90 quatre-vents-dix  kat-tra-vanht-DEES
100 cent sant
1,000 mille meel
5,000 cinq mille sank meel
10,000 dix mille dees meel

* You can form any number between 20 and 99 just like the examples for 21, 22, and 23. For x2–x9, just say the tens-place number (trente for 30, quarante for 40, etc.), then the ones-place number (35 is trente cinq; 66 is soixsante six). The only excpetion is for 21, 31, 41, etc. For x1, say the tens-place number followed by " un" (trente et un, quarante et un, etc.).

‡ Yes, the French count very strangely once they get past 69. Rather than some version of "seventy,' they instead say "sixy-ten" (followed by "sixty-eleven," "sixty-twelve,' etc. up to "sixty-nineteen.") And then, just to keep things interesting, they chenge it up again and, for 80, say 'four twenties"—which always make me thinks of blackbirds baked in a pie for some reason. Ninety becomes "four-twenties-ten" and so on up to "four-nineties-ninteen" for 99, which is quite a mouthful: quartre-vingts-dix-neuf. 


In Montmartre

The steps up to Sacre-Coeur (Photo by Pearlsa)
Sacre Coeur
Paris: Montemarte

The Sacred Heart Basilica atop Montmartre

Au Lapin Agile (Photo by Shadowgate)
Au Lapin Agile
Paris: Montemarte

The old-school bar where the Impressionists went to drink and listen to accordion music—and the tourists still do