This Francophile’s guide to Montmartre’s enticing hotels, retro shops, Michelin-star restaurants, and more will help you explore the neighborhood beyond Sacré-Coeur.
This city has many breathtaking vistas, but none are quite as calming as the cobblestone slope of Rue de l’Abreuvoir. You may convince yourself that you’ve strayed into Paris’ past by looking past the bus stop and whirling wheels; it’s a wisteria-filled beauty that slopes up toward Sacré-Cœur.
Despite being included in Paris’ city borders in 1860 after being a separate commune, the hilltop town of Montmartre has never lost its unique identity. Renowned for its religious, artistic, and occasionally shady past, the neighborhood’s distinctive lampposts, steep steps, and expansive views have captivated artists and photographers like Picasso and Renoir and deeply committed Francophiles like me with their rustic beauty.
I’ve been exploring the major tourist routes and beyond for over ten years, discovering hidden gardens, swoon-worthy museums, vintage picture booths, and hedonistic hotels. This is a carefully chosen tour to Montmartre, the timeless town of Paris, and a home for artists.
The Top 5 You Must Not Miss
Look no further than the Hôtel Particulier Montmartre for a wealthy, out-of-time home base in Montmartre. This tiny, three-story estate, which the Hermès family once owned, is in a secluded courtyard and has five opulent apartments.
See the well-known Sacré-Cœur Basilica, one of Paris’s most well-known attractions, for breathtaking cityscape vistas.
Savor creative variations on classic meals at the warm and welcoming L’Esquisse, a restaurant recommended by Michelin that also features a well-chosen natural wine selection.
Nestled within the hills of Montmartre, Numéro Deux is an appointment-only store where you may find the ideal pair of vintage Levi’s.
Admire the spectacle that is the Moulin Rouge, the most well-known cabaret in Paris.
Top Activities: Explore Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
Understanding the area’s history requires a visit to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and it is worth going inside to see the magnificence of the stained-glass windows and apse mosaic. The domed church, known as “wedding cake” because of its strikingly white façade, is constructed from locally quarried travertine, which releases calcite when it rains, bleaching the stone and maintaining its immaculate appearance. Remember that although the basilica welcomes tourists at 6:30 a.m., the dome, which provides breathtaking views of Paris from above, doesn’t open until 10 a.m.
Go to a museum.
There is no shortage of impressive museums devoted to the history of Montmartre, and each one presents the famous neighborhood from a unique perspective. Housed in a sage-shuttered villa and hidden down a cobblestone lane full of rose plants, the Musée de la Vie Romantique is a literary museum. This is apt, as the beautiful Rose Bakery has taken over the museum’s greenhouse cafe. The Musée de Montmartre pays homage to the creative heritage of the area. Renoir and French painter Suzanne Valadon formerly established studios there, and the museum’s verdant grounds provide breathtaking views of the city and the Clos Montmartre vineyard. Dalí Paris is another great place to visit, where you can view over 300 pieces created by the master surrealist.
Investigate Halle Saint Pierre.
Located in a historic covered market, this place is worth seeing only for its fantastic architecture. A museum, gallery, cafe, and one of Paris’ most exquisite booksellers are inside.
Make a picture for yourself in Place du Tertre.
Yes, it’s always packed with visitors, but this old plaza has a charm you should notice if you’ve never gone. Although the eateries on the periphery contribute to the village-like atmosphere, they could be more appealing and pricey. Come here instead to witness the hundreds of painters who capture the essence of the neighborhood’s creative energy at varied prices and skill levels by drawing portraits of guests.
Bring out the Amélie in you.
Over the years, Montmartre has served as the setting for several films, but none has been as enduringly famous as “Amélie” from 2001. Follow the protagonist as she travels through some of the most iconic scenes from the movie, such as the Abbesses metro station and the charming Rue Lepic, which is home to Café des Deux Moulins, the site where she works in the movie. One of the few surviving windmills in the area, the Moulin de la Galette, is visible up the road. Renoir, Van Gogh, and many other local painters were drawn to this windmill.
Take a picture at FotoAutomat.
A vintage analog photo booth is located right before the picturesque Abbesses Garden. Proper photo booth shots are a fun souvenir to remember your stay. Since 2007, FotoAutomat has been renovating the surviving booths worldwide and placing them in communities committed to promoting the arts. There is usually a long queue since it will take several minutes to print out your photos, unlike contemporary computerized photo booths. However, the quality and wait are worthwhile, just like any film photography.
The Sacre-Coeur and café tables in the morning in the Place du Tertre in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, France
Top Dining Options at L’Esquisse
The cuisine at this little restaurant, which the Michelin Guide recommends, is sophisticated and creative without being pretentious. The room is cozy with wooden booths and vintage Tolix chairs, and it revolves around an open kitchen where owner and chef Laëtitia Bret works her culinary magic. A well-chosen selection of natural wines attracts a friendly group of knowledgeable tourists and locals.
Hardware, The most well-known brunch destination in Société Montmartre, is well-deserved; this quaint Australian cafe, located at the base of the basilica, serves hearty yet unexpected dishes like smoked pastrami and scrambled eggs served on a crispy baguette. On weekends, expect to wait as it’s walk-in only.
This well-known Big Mamma Group Italian restaurant, which is frequently Instagrammed, excels in abundant food and décor. Head for the stairway lined with portraits that lead to a glass cage overlooking the city; stay for the pillowy tiramisu, Neapolitan-style pizza, and twirls of truffled spaghetti.
There’s nothing like Bouillon Pigalle for a traditional French feast that will fill you to the brim without breaking the wallet. Think red banquets, busy servers, and carafes of house wine on every table. This two-story restaurant, part of a network of cozy eateries around the city, serves up significant portions of French delicacies like boeuf bourguignon and escargot and views over the busy boulevard below. It’s a great place to stop for late-night munchies because it’s open every day from midnight.
This classy restaurant on Rue Lamarck offers a seasonal tasting menu that will satisfy any diner seeking a Michelin-starred dinner to remember. This restaurant is ideal for a special occasion since it combines a sophisticated culinary experience with a classic white tablecloth setting.
At Mokko, delectable dishes like lamb ravioli with black garlic jus and cucumber, creamy mushroom and parmesan polenta, and rich chocolate mousse are made with just three or four ingredients. The natural wine list is a must-try, and the warmly lighted, wooden environment is just as visually appealing as the food.
Luxurious dining area at the Hotel Particulier Montmartre
courtesy of the Hotel Particulier Montmartre, one of the best hotels in the area
This little hotel is the most delightful spot to stay in Montmartre. The three-story house, which was once the Hermès family residence, feels like a world apart from Sacré-Coeur while being less than ten minutes away on foot. It’s tucked away down a forgotten alley, surrounded by a sculpture-filled courtyard and a beautiful green garden. Each of the five distinct rooms is a designer’s paradise; imagine soaking tubs with mosaic tiles and art deco murals in one, walls covered in leopard print in another, and an Eiffel Tower view from the Prestige Suite on the top level. If you cannot get a room at the hotel, you must visit the excellent French restaurant and seductive cocktail bar downstairs.
The magnificently opulent Maison Souquet, located directly across the street from the Moulin Rouge, provides a sensual haven that honors the hideaway’s previous renown as a covert brothel for affluent hedonists. More than 120 distinct silks adorn the 20 rooms and suites, with tasseled lamps, filled headboards, and fabric-cocooned walls that arouse jealousy and desire equal to those of the renowned courtesans they are named for. Here, couples looking for complete seclusion and luxury are in for a treat. Remember to ask for the heavenly hammam and pool key.
This 30-room boutique hotel, located halfway between Sacré-Coeur and Palais Garnier, exudes the authentic creative essence of Montmartre, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Russian-born artist Nina Koltchitskaia made the hotel her canvas during the epidemic, painting paintings on each room’s walls that would have looked good in a museum. The hotel, now a creative refuge, is designed around a vintage spiral staircase, and the rooms are tastefully furnished with soft bedding and simple décor.
The Monsieur Aristide Hotel
If your journey does not allow you to attend the renowned Saint-Ouen flea market, visiting the exquisitely designed Hôtel Monsieur Aristide will give you an idea of what you are missing. Boasting a mirrored vanity, framed artwork, and velvet chairs, among other antique discoveries, this 25-room guesthouse captures the bohemian vibe of the surrounding area. Beyond the repurposed furniture, another environmentally friendly feature of this recently renovated space—a hotel for more than a century under prior ownership—is the bright terrazzo floor, created from the debris of the construction site during renovations.
La Butte de Fromagère
My mouth is watering just thinking about this little artisanal cheese business. It has a superb array of goat cheese, mostly from tiny French farms, matured Comté and Mimolette, and creamy Saint-Félicien for all palates.
The Abbesses’ Cave
La Cave des Abbesses, a combined wine bar, pâté vendor, and bottle shop, is a foodie’s paradise. Established in 1986, this beloved local landmark is ideal for enjoying a cheese and charcuterie plate during happy hour or grabbing a bottle for a picnic on the basilica steps with a city view.
Amidst the plethora of kilo shops and massive thrift stores in Paris, there are a few unique locations for unique vintage treasures. Visit Numéro Deux, an appointment-only vintage Levi’s showroom specializing in 501s, for finely picked denim. Prepare to browse racks and take the spiral staircase down to the basement at Chinemachine on Rue des Martyrs to find well-priced designer selections and ’60s party gowns. One of my favorite stores in the city, Vintage Inspiration Paris, is a little further out. The eccentric proprietor of the business will happily assist you in trying on Hermès purses and YSL jackets; the collection is exquisite but not inexpensive.
Several French sommeliers have told me this fantastic cellar is their favorite in Paris, so natural wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss it. The tiny but powerful wine shop offers an impressive range of well-known and up-and-coming organic and biodynamic wineries.
Rouge Mouline: A sign with a red windmill
The Moulin Rouge
Although tickets for the “Féerie” show are pricey, this iconic lounge used to be the height of Parisian nightlife. Besides, how often do you get to watch a real French cancan? The spectacle is well worth the price of admission since it is a captivating homage to Paris’s history.
- Montmartre, a unique neighborhood in Paris, offers stunning panoramic views, romantic museums, and secret gardens, maintaining its identity despite being incorporated into the city in 1860.
- The top activities in Montmartre include exploring the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, visiting museums like Musée de la Vie Romantique and Dalí Paris, experiencing Halle Saint Pierre, making art in Place du Tertre, and capturing memories in a vintage photo booth.
- L’Esquisse is a recommended Michelin-star restaurant in Montmartre, offering creative variations on classic meals, while other dining options include Hardware, Mamma Pink, Pigalle Bouillon, L’Arcane, and Mokko.
- For accommodations, Hôtel Particulier Montmartre, Maison Souquet, Hôtel Arvor, and The Monsieur Aristide Hotel provide unique and luxurious stays, each with its own charm and style, capturing the artistic essence of Montmartre.