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Montmartre

I will be staying in Montmartre for 3 days. My hotel is near the metro stop Abbesses. I know the place du Tertre is tacky and overtouristed, and the Basilica Sainte Denis is overcrowded, but are there quiet areas of interest, off the beaten path, so to speak, to explore. Restaurants? Museums? Parks? Walks? Single, older, female in good physical shape. Familiar with Paris.

Posted by
2261 posts

Kateja, do you mean the Sacre-Coeur? The Basilica of St Denis is anything but overcrowded-it's one of the most under-touristed sights in Paris, imho, though it is on the outskirts not in Montmartre.

Posted by
301 posts

If you mean the Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre, it's near Sacre Coeur and is quiet and untouristy. It's one of the oldest surviving churches in Paris. Also, Paris Walks has a Montmartre tour that you might like.

Posted by
6669 posts

You're probably thinking of the Sacre-Coeur, which is at the top of Montmartre. St-Denis is in a suburb north of the city, well worth visiting (accessible by Metro) but nowhere near Montmartre.

Paris Walks offers an informative, enjoyable, well-paced guided walk through Montmartre on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, starting at the Abbesses Metro. They will take you to some quieter, less crowded places as you climb gradually, ending up at Place du Tertre and Sacre-Coeur where the walk ends. You don't need a reservation, just show up at the starting time and pay the guide.

The cemetery near the top of the hill is sort of quiet by definition, not exactly unvisited, but certainly less crowded than the places you mentioned. I also remember a little park with a statue in memory of Marcel Aime, author of "The Man Who Walked Through Walls" -- depicting a man walking out of a wall, of course. It was quiet and peaceful. Finally, I'd suggest walking around on the north side of Montmartre, less visited and without the views over central Paris, to find more peace and quiet. Of course, as with any walking on a hillside, remember the cardinal rule of mountaineers -- "never lose altitude unnecessarily." ;-)

Posted by
7072 posts

I second the suggestion for taking the Paris Walks tour through Montmartre. It was one of the best walking tours I have taken in any city. Agree that you will see some things you might not find on your own. The guide I had was wonderful, so informative and made the area come alive for me. I loved the sculpture of the man walking through the wall. I actually came back another day and spent some time exploring the cemetery - not nearly as large as Pere Lachaise but very interesting as cemeteries go.

Posted by
564 posts

Yes, I did mean Sacre Coeur. Thanks for the tips. Paris Walks sounds great.

Posted by
2466 posts

Le Grand 8 restaurant - good local food, good value for the money.
La Table d'Eugene - for something fancier.
You'll be absolutely fine dining - or doing anything else - solo, while in Paris.

Use Google Maps, look for Metro Lamarck-Caulincourt. Then use the StreetView function to map your own tour between avenue Junot and rue Lamarck. This is the nicest part of Montmartre, in my opinion.

Posted by
8219 posts

Be sure to visit St. Denis though. I personally think Sacre Coeur is ugly except when viewed at a distance, but it has never been crowded when we have been there. It is also worth the climb to have the views from the dome.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/confronting-mortality-at-st-denis/
I like to walk from Lamarck Caulaincourt through lovely back streets to Sacre Coeur -- the area between Sacre Coeur and Lamarck Caulaincourt is the prettiest part of the area IMHO.

Posted by
1976 posts

We took the Paris Walks - Village of Montmartre walk in April and loved it. The tour does stop at the "Man Who Walked through Walls" memorial statue. That's an interesting story. Ronald Rosbottom, author of "When Paris Went Dark" (about the German Occupation of the city - an excellent book), theorizes that the story represents the sense of claustrophobia that many Parisians experienced during the Occupation.

By all means, go to the Basilica of Saint-Denis. It's far north of the city center and in a "gritty" area (we felt safe walking around there), so there aren't hordes of tourists like at Sacre Coeur and Notre-Dame. From the Montmartre area it isn't far, but from our hotel in the 5th it was at least 30 minutes on the Metro.

Posted by
2466 posts

When people say "gritty", they mean that the area is a lower working class neighborhood which includes people from many different ethnic backgrounds.

This does not mean that the area is unsafe at all - it will just look different from the touristy areas most people imagine they will see when they arrive in Paris.

Posted by
1540 posts

If you sew or quilt or are interested in fabrics, there are several great fabric stores in this area. I went a little crazy buying fabric.
There is a pretty fair size population of middle easterners and so there are some interesting shops. I found a shop that sold all the stuff (fabric, bangles, fringe, etc) to make belly dancer costumes. I enjoyed looking through the shop.

Posted by
231 posts

Montmartre is our favorite area to stay in Paris. We usually stay at the Relais Montmartre, which is just up the street from the Blanche metro stop. There are great boulangeries in the area. The best is Le Granier a Pain, which is on rue Abbesses. They have routinely won or placed in the top ten in the annual best baguette and best croissant competitions. Agree that Le table Eugene is a great prix fix restaurant, but a bit of a walk. You can escape the mobs at Sacre Couer by just walking to the back end of the church. There is almost no one there, and you can see the interesting structures and gargoyles. Finally, I've just wanted around the streets of the back side of Montmartre and enjoyed the atmosphere. Right next to Montmartre is the Batignolles neighborhood, which is very lovely area to walk and explore. The Parc Clichy Batignolles is really nice park.
Lastly, St. Denis is worth visiting. It's the first gothic cathedral built. Easy to get to by Metro, but would go during the daytime.

Posted by
734 posts

I still add we did the Rick Steves Montmartre walk by using his mobile app......it was spot on, should you decide to do the walk on your own.

Posted by
335 posts

rue des Martyrs (starting near the Abbesses stop) is a local shopping street) so that might be interesting to you. Aa RS says in his Paris book, avoid Montmartre on weekends as it's crowded then. PM me for my fave restos, walks, etc. (also a single older female who loves Paris)

Posted by
10340 posts

I think I'm missing something here. Holly, I know you stayed here around a month, but the rue des Martyrs shopping area I know is below Blvd. de Clichy, from rue Condorcet to rue de Lamartine. When you come out of the Abbesses metro, there's a good shopping street, parallel around the hill to rue Lepic and beyond, but it's not rue des Martyrs. Another good street to go up is rue Lepic from metro Blanche, up and around to Abbesses; you'll find a ton of cafes and shops this whole area.

The Marche St. Pierre is indeed a wonderland of fabric shops. You'll find everything for any dress or costume imaginable.

Stay away from going up the stairs and side paths from the bottom near the carousel directly in front of the Basilica. There are string bracelet guys waiting to scam anyone who passes. You're going up hill huffing and puffing when they accost you.

Posted by
2349 posts

On rue Cortot, just a few blocks from place du Tertre, is the Museum of Montmartre.

We really loved it. Renoir lived here and painted several paintings set in the gardens. There are photos showing the changes in the area. It's not covered by the museum pass but it was money well spent. You can access the vineyard from here.

Posted by
131 posts

Bets, if you check your map you will see that rue des Martyrs intersects with rue des Abbesses, and continues down the hill, and past bd. de Clichy.

Posted by
10340 posts

Thanks Parisonadime. I know there are restaurants on that part of the rue des Martyrs, but didn't know it was a commercial area, too. The area Elaine Sciolino wrote about in her book is the lower area below Blvd. de Clichy.