Montmartre

Located on a hill, the district of Montmartre offers fabulous views of Paris and is also home to one of its most famous landmarks

Artist display their works at Place du Tertre in Montmartre
Artist display their works at Place du Tertre in Montmartre cc licensed photo by Olivier Bruchez

Montmartre is actually both a hill as well as a district. The district gets its name from the hill which overlooks it and provides visitors with some fabulous views of Paris. Situated on the right bank of the River Seine, Montmartre is well known for a number of famous landmarks and monuments. One could easily spend several days exploring the picturesque cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops, bistros, and bars that are established throughout the area.

One of the famous landmarks and monuments that you will find in Montmartre is the Basilica of Sacré Coeur. It is found right at the top of the hill and overlooks the entire district. The dome is special because it is constructed of a special rock that releases a white substance that keeps the dome white at all times. It does not matter how much pollution the dome is exposed to, it remains as white as the day it was built.

The hill itself is named for a martyred saint. The name Montmartre is based on the term "mountain of the martyr". The martyr that is being referred to is Saint Denis, the Bishop of Paris until his death around 250 AD, and is now the patron saint of France. It is also claimed that the hill was a holy place for the ancient druids, there is no archaeological evidence to back up this claim though.

There is also the Saint Pierre de Montmartre, a much older church which is often forgotten in the wonder at the Basilica. This church claims to be where the Jesuit order was founded.

The area of Montmartre also played host to a number of artists including some really great names such as Salvador Dali, Amedeo Madigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

Montmartre has not always been such a peaceful place. When the Russians over ran the city in 1814, they used the elevation of the hill to their advantage and placed a number of cannons there with which they proceeded to bombard the city.

The area was also a popular drinking area for a number of reasons. Not only was the area considered to be outside the city limits, but the nuns also made wine. It is in Montmartre that the film and Broadway musical, Moulin Rouge, was said to take place.

As you can see, there are bits of history here that will interest every person. This is what makes Montmartre such a popular destination and tourist attraction.

Directions

Metro / RER Line Nearest Station Walking Time
M2Anvers or Place de Clichy (Cemetery)0 minutes (4 to the cemetery)
M12Abbesses0 minutes

How to get to Montmartre by Metro / RER

By Metro: Exit at either Anvers Station on the M2 Line or Abbesses Station on the M12 Line. To get to the Funicular that goes up to the base of the Basilica go to Abbesses Station on the M12 line; exit to the left and follow Rue Yvonne le Tac east watching for the sign to the Funicular (5 minutes) or you can take the stairs (11 minutes). From Anvers Station on the M2 line follow the crowds heading north past all the little shops on Rue de Steinkerque and head up the stairs (9 minutes) or go left at Place St. Pierre and look for the sign to the Funicular (4 minutes).

For the Montmartre Cemetery exit the M2 line at Place de Clichy and head east from the traffic circle along Blvd. de Clichy. Look for the stairs and sign for the cemetery on the right side just before the bridge that crosses over the cemetery.

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Video showing some of the interesting places and people around Montmartre

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