While enjoying your stay at the Hotel Opera Lafayette, don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the most picturesque districts of Paris, the fabled Montmartre. This charming village in the heart of the city is easily explored on foot and the experience will immerse you in the bemian Paris of the romantic past.
A trip to Paris would not be complete without a visit to Montmartre. This is a neighbourhood that for many years hosted a thriving community of artists, including Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso and, later, the singer and actress Dalida, who lived there until her death. Today a square bearing her name has a sculpture of the performer.
The name Montmartre evokes thoughts of both the bohemian Paris and the Paris underworld of past centuries, with its many notorious brothels and cabarets. Today, although there are still a few sex shops, Montmartre has been gentrified and is now one of the most tourist-friendly areas of ??the capital. Visitors come to see the famous Moulin Rouge and catch one of its flamboyant shows featuring dancers performing the can-can. There are narrow cobbled streets where getting lost is a pleasure amidst the indisputably photogenic surroundings. Montmartre has also been the location for a number of movies, including the charming and much-loved ‘Amélie’. On the rue Lepic, you can sit on the terrace of the Café des Deux Moulins, where the character played by Audrey Tautou worked. Moving on, the Moulin de la Galette, a renowned and historical restaurant that was painted by Renoir, is one of the last two remaining windmills in Montmartre.
Unusual places abound in Montmartre. Did you know, for example, that a vineyard, the last of its kind in Paris, can still be found there? Every fall the grape harvest takes place and a new wine ‘made in Montmartre’ is created. A few metres away is Le Lapin Agile, the oldest cabaret in Paris and once a gathering place for struggling artists and writers. In Jehan Rictus Square in the Place des Abbesses can be found ‘The Love Wall’, an artwork on which the words ‘I love you’ is written on tiles of enamelled lava 311 times in 250 languages.
The most popular locations in Montmartre should not be missed, however. From the Square Louise Michel, climb the 222 steps to the world-famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. From there you’ll have one of the best views of Paris. Then stroll to the Place du Tertre, where painters and caricaturists set up their easels just as they have for generations. Not far away, the Espace Dali is home to some 300 works by the Spanish artist. Located in charming seventeenth century gardens, the Montmartre museum displays a fine collection of works by Toulouse Lautrec, Modigliani, Kupka, etc. Down the hill, you can visit the Grevin, one of the oldest wax museums in Europe.
In Montmartre it’s best to take your time to discover all the myriad facets of this enchanting part of Paris. Happy hunting!
Place du Tertre copyright holder: Tourist Office Paris - Photographer Marc Bertrand
Hotel Opéra Lafayette, a 3* hotel in Paris between Gare du Nord and Opera area