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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

Don't Miss Montmartre in Paris-Travel Throwback

I am going to start a new Travel Throwback series that highlights some of my favorite past trips. If you have been to any area I spotlight in a Travel Throwback blog, please feel free to comment with your memories of the locale or, even better, if you have been there more recently fill us in on any changes to the area or new things to see and do!

A Not So Hidden Gem in Paris!

My first Travel Throwback features the charming village of Montmartre in France. Back in August 2017, we took a family trip to Europe on our way to drop off my oldest daughter Madison in Florence, Italy for a semester abroad. We started our journey with a couple of days in Paris. Because we didn't have a lot of time, we shook off the jet lag to begin exploring. We did our usual "get our bearings" thing doing a bus tour around Paris. We decided on a whim to hop off of our Hop On/Hop Off tour bus to check out the big white church that sits high on a hill overlooking Paris. It turned out to be my absolute favorite part of our Paris adventure!

Sacre Coeur Means the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The big white church was actually the stunning Basilica Sacre Coeur which is surrounded by the charming village of Montmartre. Once we hopped off the bus, we had to climb steep cobblestone streets and what seemed like hundreds of stairs to reach Sacre Coeur. If you aren't as brave (or if you realize there is an easier way unlike us), you can actually hop on the little white Montmartre train that will wind its way up the steep hills through the village providing tour commentary as you go. The train will get you to the base of the hill that Sacre Coeur sits on, and then you can take a funicular to the entry of the basilica and avoid all those steps! Or you can climb the hills and stairs and arrive at the top sweaty and out of breath like we did. The choice is yours.

However you get to the top, once you arrive you will be treated to the stunning architecture of Sacre Coeur. It is totally white and due to its color and location can be seen from almost anywhere in Paris. As you can imagine, the views of Paris once you reach the top of the hill are spectacular. If the dome on top of the basilica is open you can go up to the top and get a panoramic view of Paris. Either place is definitely the spot to grab that Instaworthy photo looking down over Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I have poured over my photos and unfortunately cannot find my pic of Paris from the Montmartre viewpoint. Unbelievable! If you are reading this blog and have one, PLEASE share in the comments so people can see the awesome view. Going up to Sacre Coeur with a bottle of wine to sit on the steps and watch the sunset would also be an amazing experience!

Village of Montmartre

After you have taken your amazing photo and have checked out the largest mosaic in France inside the Sacre Coeur, you will wander down the cobblestone streets into a quaint bohemian style village filled with art galleries, cafes, boulangeries, and small shops. Montmartre was an artist haven in the early 19th and 20th centuries and you can almost feel the ghosts of Renoir, Pissarro, Van Gogh, and Matisse wandering along the streets. If you go to Place du Tertre just behind Sacre Coeur, you will find an open space where current artists are creating art before your eyes. You can also get your portrait drawn or painted by one of these artists if you like. There are several art museums paying homage to the artistic history of Montmartre, including a museum devoted to Salvador Dali. Montmartre is a perfect place to immerse yourself in art and art history if that interests you.

Ahhh...the French Macaroons

If you are feeling a little hungry or thirsty from all that climbing, Montmartre has no shortage of cafes for you to grab a bite to eat and glass of wine (of course!). We also stopped at a boulangerie and picked up some of the best Macaroons I've ever had! They were fresh and there was the widest assortment of flavors I have ever seen. Nothing like eating a French Macaroon in France!

Moulin Rouge and Nightlife

We weren't there for the nightlife, but apparently it is noteworthy so if you are in the area in the evening (perhaps after watching the sunset) you will want to check it out. You especially want to check out the famous Moulin Rouge. Maybe you can even take in a cabaret show while you are there!

Make Sure Not to Miss Montmartre!

When you plan a trip to Paris, you obviously think of the Eiffel Tour, the Louvre, Champs D'elysee and the Arc de Triomphe. But make sure you leave time in your itinerary to visit Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. I promise you will not regret it. It could end up being your favorite part of Paris too!

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