If you’d love to explore the legendary Montmartre area of Paris and don’t know where to go and what to do, you need this self-guided walking tour of Montmartre.
Why be held back by a slow group tour if you can find your own way and go at your own pace, without missing out on key information and local stories?
My FREE self-guided walking tour of Montmartre gives a manageable route that will take you to the main sights and prettiest streets, highlighting things to do along the way, plus places to eat. I’ve even thrown in a suggestion of where to stay in Montmartre.
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Is Montmartre Worth Visiting?
I definitely recommend it!
A big part of the appeal of Montmartre is its cultural story; the role it has played in Paris’s history. Between 1872 and 1914, it was the beating heart of the Belle Époque, the golden age of art and innovation in Paris and across Europe. It was a bohemian hotspot and many artists, writers and performers lived and/or worked in Montmartre, where the rents were low. Among them were Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.
Montmartre was once a hilltop village outside the city limits of Paris. And even though it has been a long time since it was enveloped by the city, it retains a quaint village feel, with its narrow cobbled streets and some cute cottages. There are even a couple of windmills and a small vineyard that remains!
And the hilltop location adds another reason to explore Montmartre: its elevated status gives some great views over Paris. The best is from the Basilica of Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, which sits like a gleaming white crown atop the butte of Montmartre.
Overall, Montmartre is a great part of Paris to explore. In fact, wandering Montmartre on foot it’s one of the things I suggest you do even if you’re only in Paris for one day.
What You’ll See On This Self-Guided Walking Tour Of Montmartre
A few of the Montmartre highlights you’ll discover on this walking tour:
- Basilica of Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
- Place du Terte
- La Maison Rose
- Rue de l’Abreuvoir
- Musée de Montmartre
- Moulin de la Galette
- Rue Lepic
- Le Consulat
- Escalier du Calvaire
- Wall of Love
- Cimetiere de Montmartre
- Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
Self-Guided Walking Tour Of Montmartre in Paris
I’ll step you through this self-guided walking tour of Montmartre, describing the route and also the things to do in Montmartre along the way. However, there’s also an interactive map at the end of this article to help you find your way around.
How long does it take to walk Montmartre? In total, there are around 45 minutes of pure walking, but of course, it will take longer than that as you’ll be stopping to look at and do things along the way. I’d suggest you give yourself a couple of hours to do this walk.
Heads up: this route includes some hills! There is one place where you can avoid a steep incline by taking a funicular, but it’s hard to avoid some steepness altogether, so be aware there are slopes and steps involved.
1. Start: Anvers To Sacré-Cœur
Our walking tour of Montmartre starts at Anvers Metro station because it is the closest Metro to the most spectacular landmark in Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur. Anvers station has one of those classic Art Nouveau Metro entrances, so the first thing you do might be to admire that for a moment.
After that, head uphill along souvenir-heavy Rue de Steinkerque toward the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. At Place Saint-Pierre, you’ll be at the bottom of the gardens below Sacré-Cœur, and you could find a nice spot to photograph the basilica with the old-school fairground rides in the foreground.
You can either continue to walk up the hill, through Square Louise Michel, or you could take the easy route via the funicular to the left of the gardens (this costs the same as a single ticket on the Metro: €1.90 each way). Either way, you’ll end up at the top of the hill on Place du Cardinal Dubois, which is right in front of the basilica.
The iconic Neo-Byzantine-Romanesque-style Sacré-Cœur sits on the summit of the butte of Montmartre. From the graceful white dome, on a clear day, it is possible to see all of Paris and the surrounding countryside for fifty km around. It is the second-most visited monument in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower.
Things to do around Sacré-Cœur:
- Admire the view over Paris. From Place du Cardinal Dubois, you get a southward vantage point
- Admire the Basilica in all its gleaming travertine glory – it is impressive both outside and inside (and entrance is free)
- Climb up into the elegant dome. For a fee and after you’ve climbed 300 steps, you will discover even better panoramic views over Paris
- Enjoy the perspective-bending view of the buildings on Rue Lamarck – a classic photo op is to line the camera up with the steep hillside instead of the houses
2. Rue De La Bonne & Marcel Bleustein Blamche Square
Once you’ve had your fill of the Sacré-Cœur, you might be tempted to follow the crowds westward down Rue Azais or Rue du Chevalier de la Barre towards the famous Place du Tertre. But resist!
Don’t worry, this walking tour of Montmartre will bring you to Place du Tertre, but later on. First, we’re headed to the less touristy northern part of Montmartre, starting with a small city park behind Sacré-Cœur: Marcel Bleustein Blanchet Square.
To get there, walk all the way around the basilica and onto Rue de la Bonne, where you’ll find the park on the right-hand side. This small, attractive park has a nice arched walkway and some places to sit, but the main thing I like about it is the view of Sacré-Cœur from the back. It’s a view I haven’t seen often, with the campanile (belltower) very prominent.
Walk a bit further down Rue de la Bonne and you’ll come to a corner with a view down the hill, over apartment buildings and courtyards. The last time I was here, I paused for a while to watch some people play pétanque down there.
3. Rue Saint-Vincent To La Maison Rose
Head left down Rue Saint-Vincent, which is a handsome street with some more viewpoints and attractive squares with handsome.
Soon you’ll come to a junction with Rue des Saules. On the right is Lapin Agile, a 19th-century cabaret bar. This place was in the centre of artistic Paris at the turn of the century and became a favourite spot for struggling artists and writers, including Picasso and Modigliani.
On the left, you’ll find what looks like a garden, but is actually a vineyard, Vignes du Clos Montmartre, which still produces wines from a variety of grapes. Unfortunately, it’s closed to the public, but it is interesting to see the oldest vineyard in Paris, even though you can only look at it from the street.
Head up Rue des Saules and on the right, soon you’ll find a popular spot in Montmartre: La Maison Rose was another artist’s hang out at the turn of the 20th century, and also in the 1960s and 70s. This pink café/restaurant with pint-green shutters is an Instagram favourite due to its picturesque exterior and pretty pavement seating area. This could be a good spot to take a break and get some refreshments if you need them. In summer, it will be very popular for brunch. However, if you come on a Monday or Tuesday, it won’t be open.
From here, our walking route continues down Rue de l’Abreuvoir, but you can detour to Musée de Montmartre, which tells the story of bohemian Montmartre in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The buildings are the former home of several artists, including Renoir.
4. Rue De l’Abreuvoir
La Maison Rose is at the top of Rue de l’Abreuvoir, widely touted as one of the prettiest streets in Paris. And they’re not exaggerating. This cobbled street has a number of charming pink and ivy-clad cottages along it. However, if you reach the bottom and you’re not impressed with it, turn around and look back up the hill.
Not only is the curved cobbled street lined by those quaint buildings, but the domes of the Sacré-Cœur are visible just beyond it.
The best place to appreciate the view of Rue de l’Abreuvoir is from Place de Dalida, the corner of the street where there’s a small bronze bust. This is Buste de Dalida, a tribute to one of France’s most popular singers. She lived in Montmartre until her tragic death in 1987.
5. Rue Girardon
Head along Rue Girardon, where you’ll find a small park, which is a good spot to sit and simply soak up the vibes of Montmartre. Suzanne Buisson Square has a nice fountain, some seating and a pétanque terrain (I had to look that up: it’s the name for the area pétanque is played).
The southern end of Rue Girardon has Theatre Lepic. And right at the end, you’ll find Le Moulin de la Galette, made famous by the Renoir painting Bal du moulin de la Galette. This is a great place to grab lunch if you’re here around lunchtime.
The restaurant is named for the 17th-century windmill, whose owners were famous for their galette bread.
6. Rue Lepic To Place Du Tertre
At Le Moulin de la Galette, turn right along Rue Lepic. This will curve to the left as you head uphill. Where it comes to a junction, you’ll see a cute octagonal building called La Commanderie Du Clos Montmartre, a pretty but decommissioned water tower.
Head right here along Rue Norvins and soon you’ll be in a quaint cluster of establishments including a shop selling old prints called Gallerie Butte Montmartre the very picturesque Le Consulat cafe. This is another place that is frequently found on ‘cutest in Paris’ lists and it claims past patronage from artists including Picasso, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Monet.
Unless you fancy a bite to eat in Le Consulat, carry on to the right of it and soon you’ll be in Place du Tertre. This square was opened to the public in 1635 as Montmartre village central square and was a hub of activity during Montmartre’s bohemian period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
If you’re in Paris in winter, Place du Tertre will be a quiet space to wander between trees; in summer, it will be packed with artists selling their wares and terrace seating for the many restaurants around the edges.
If you can find a spot, grab a drink on a terrace and enjoy the buzz. Once you have had enough (or if it is just too hectic for you to linger there), get ready for some downhill walking, because the next stop is lower down the butt of Montmartre.
7. Escalier Du Calvaire To The Wall Of Love
On the southern side of Place du Tertre, you’ll find a set of pretty steps, descending down the hillside: Escalier du Calvaire.
Walk down the steps, enjoying the view as you go. At the bottom bear left, then straight down Rue Drevet. Carry on down the next set of steps and down Rue la Vieuville, following it round to the right until you come to a small city park.
Here you’ll find the Wall of Love. This monument to love was created in 2000 and is composed of 612 tiles, on which the phrase ‘I love you’ is featured 311 times in 250 languages.
8. Rue Des Abbesses To Cimetiere De Montmartre
From the Wall of Love, head west along Rue des Abbesses, a classic Parisian street with plenty of cafes with street terraces. When you come to Rue Tholoze on the right, check out the Art Deco cinema, Studio 28, which was featured in the movie Amelie. It was the first avant-garde cinema on the right bank and opened in 1928. They play a mix of movies, including some in English. It could be somewhere to come back in the evening to if you’re staying in Montmartre.
At the junction by the Terrass Hotel, you’ll find Cimetiere de Montmartre on the left and ahead of you. Officially known as the Cimitière du Nord, Montmartre Cemetery opened in 1825. It is the third largest necropolis in Paris, after the Père Lachaise cemetery and the Montparnasse cemetery.
Strolling a cemetery might not be for everyone, but I suggested it for a couple of reasons. One is the sheer impressiveness of some of the tombs here. In the UK, we tend to have single headstones on graves, but the fashion here is clearly grander. The graves are often marked with tall stone tombs, many with a striking gothic style.
It’s also interesting because there are some historical figures buried here, including the impressionist painter Edgar Degas, writers Emile Zola and Alexandre Dumas and the film director François Truffaut. Dalida’s tomb is also here – and it’s quite a spectacle.
The entrance to the cemetery is a little way along Rue Caulaincourt.
If You Want To Continue Your Exploration Of Paris On Foot…
By this point in your journey, I hope you’ve had an enjoyable tour of Montmartre and that your head of full of the charming things you’ve seen along the way.
However, if you’re hungry for even more, you could continue onto nearby Boulevard de Clichy to visit the famous Moulin Rouge theatre: the birthplace of the Can Can and the inspiration for the 2001 movie of the same name. The Moulin Rouge is still a working theatre where you can see cabaret.
If you do that, be warned: it’s not as glam as it looks in the movie! It’s in Pigalle, a red light district in Paris, and the road it’s on is kinda sleazy with lots of sex shops and ‘girls girls girls’ kind of establishments.
Map: Self-Guided Walking Tour Of Montmartre Route
Here are the route and markers for key attractions along this walking tour of Montmartre.
How To Use This Map: click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the title of the map, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
Where To Stay In Montmartre
I stayed in Terrass” Hotel, near the cemetery. It’s an excellent 4-star hotel with two big attractions: it has some rooms with a view of the Eiffel Tower and it has a nice rooftop restaurant and terrace bar – again, with great views.
I treated myself to one of their Eiffel Tower rooms and it was lovely: a big room with all the amenities I could ask for. The only thing is, be aware that if you’re in Paris in winter, the view of the tower may be obscured by moisture in the air or clouds.
Where To Eat In Montmartre
I’ve already mentioned La Maison Rose and Le Consulat, both of which are picture-perfect brunch/lunch spots, with bohemian heritage. However, I really liked these two places:
- Le Moulin de la Galette – I mentioned this place earlier. It has an interesting heritage and a classic French menu. I had onion soup followed by classic steak frites there and it was delicious!
- La Boite aux Lettres – this small and unpretentious bistro on Rue Lepic has an innovative menu with a focus on seasonal produce.
Walking is a great way to explore the historic and culture-rich area of Montmartre in Paris. I hope this free self-guided walking tour helps you discover the best of Montmartre. However, if you feel like you’d prefer to follow a guide, you could join a guided walking tour of Montmartre.
And if you’re interested in even more ideas about the historic corners of Paris, check out my review of the best covered passages in Paris.