The urban village Montmartre is an officially designated historic district. It was decided that only a limited development is allowed, in order to maintain its historic character. But just as New Yorkers are talking about villages in the States, Parisians are talking about Montmartre: It’s not what it once used to be, that visiting is like being in Disneyland and – of course – the artists can’t afford to live here anyway anymore.
But even if there’s some truth in these opinions, there are many ways to approach this incredibly unique village within the metropolis Paris. Let’s go discover the secret places of Montmartre!
Arts & Culture
Montmartre has long been an artist’s quartier, with Picasso, Van Gogh and Dalí who all lived in the area. Just off the top of the butte, Espace Dalí showcases surrealist artist Salvador Dalí’s work. Nearby, day and night, tourists visit such sights as Place du Tertre and the cabaret du Lapin Agile, where the artists had worked and gathered. Many renowned artists are buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre and the Cimetière Saint-Vincent. If you walk the streets of beautiful Montmartre today, you will discover a whole lot of street art, graffitiart and freaky street-signs …
Music in Pigalle
Downhill to the southwest is the red-light district of Pigalle. The modern creative classe likes to gather around South Pigalle, thanks to a vibrant nightlife and – during daytime – a contemporary café culture. That area is also largely known for a wide variety of stores specializing in instruments for rock music. There are several concert halls located in this area. The actual Moulin Rouge theatre is also in Pigalle, next to Blanche métro station.
Sightseeing: Sacré-Cœur & “Le mur des je t’aime”
For a lot of visitors, Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre will always be on top of the list of “absolute musts” when they’re in Paris. Even parisians love to hang out in the gardens and cafés surrounding the actual mountain. One famous spot in Abbesses is “The Wall of Love” (French: “Le mur des je t’aime”) is a love-themed 40 square metres piece of wall art located in the Jehan Rictus garden square. This mural was created in 2000 by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and artist Claire Kito. It is composed of 612 tiles of enamelled lava, on which the phrase “I love you” is written 311 times in 250 languages.
Shopping in the street canyons of Abbesses and Pigalle
And finally – to get your shopping fix – look no further than the pretty Parisian street canyons in Abbesses! One of the best known is “Rue des Abbesses”, but in nearly any the tiny some cute little shops are hiding. Therefore, Montmartre is staffed with boutiques, offering everything from vintage clothes to haute couture. And by the way, the flea markets in Pigalle and Abbesses are worth a visit, too. Here you can profit from a real village atmosphere, bobo spirit and countless stands.
Hang out in a “Café Parisien”!
But the best place to hang out and observe the beauty of this area is definitely a café! The café culture in Paris goes back centuries. The patios – mostly squeezed on small sidewalks – have always been a gathering place for people to meet and debate everyday life issues. And even intellectuals and artists discussed their ideas and philosphical topics here. This is where the bohemian culture has its offspring. The perfect place to soak up the unique atmosphere and sip on a small cup of coffee …
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