Our tour of the arrondissements has returned! And this week we’re taking a look at the district that holds one of the most famous and beloved neighbourhoods in Paris: Montmartre. Montmartre is home to the Sacre Coeur, Place du Tertre, and the Moulin Rouge. It’s also where legendary artists like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Suzanne Valadon once made their home. But Montmartre isn’t all that the 18e arrondissement has to offer. It’s a wonderfully diverse district with lots to discover, so let’s dive in!
A Late Addition To Paris
The 18e arrondissement and the neighbourhood of Montmartre are most famous for their artistic legacy. Countless artists have made this area their home, but especially during the Belle Epoque of the 19th and 20th centuries. Ironically, artists were initially drawn to the 18e because it wasn’t the 18e. In fact, it wasn’t a part of Paris at all. The area that is now the 18e wasn’t incorporated into the city of Paris until 1860, meaning prior to this, it was its own independent municipality, free from the rules, regulations, and taxes of the big city. In Montmartre, it was said that rents, drinks, and entertainment were all cheap compared to Paris, and artists moved there in droves.
The Sacre Coeur – The Crown Jewel of the 18e
Of course, no tour of the 18e would be complete without a visit to the Sacre Coeur Basilica. This beautiful church sits on the top of the hill, or Butte, of Montmartre, and it is one of the most iconic sights of the Paris skyline. Relatively speaking, the Sacre Coeur is new to the city, having been built between 1875 and 1919. But it quickly became one of the most visited sites in Paris, second only to the Eiffel Tower. People come to see its grand facade and beautiful mosaics, as well as the incredible views of the city from the basilica’s front steps. Fun fact. The Sacre Coeur has been home to perpetual adoration of the Holy Sacrament since 1885. Today, you can register for a time slot to pray and continue this tradition. As part of your experience, you get to spend the night in the church dormitories.
The Other Village of the 18e
To the east of Montmartre there is an area called the Goutte d’Or. It is also known as Little Africa, due to its high number of North African and sub-Saharan residents. It is estimated that 36% of this neighbourhood’s inhabitants are born abroad and one in four are under 20 years old, making the Goutte d’Or one of the most diverse and youthful areas in Paris. This vibrant neighbourhood is where you will find restaurants, shops, and markets specializing in products and foods from all over Africa. It is also home to many famous cultural spaces, including the Louxor Cinema, the Institute for Islamic Culture, and FGO-Barbara, a state of the art recording studio complex. The Goutte d’Or may not be as famous as Montmartre, but it is a wonderful part of the 18e that should be more well known.
Le Passe-Muraille – A statue commemorating the famous French short story of the same name. Urban legend says that if you can pull the man out of the stone, you’ll inherit his ability to walk through walls.
Le Clos Montmartre – The last remaining operational vineyard in Paris. While it is usually closed to the public, you can walk around the perimeter to take pictures of the beautiful rows of vines.
Le Mur des Je t’aime – The I Love You Wall is a beautiful contemporary art installation located just behind the Abbesses metro station. The phrase I Love You is inscribed on the wall in over 300 different languages.
Rue de l’Abreuvoir – My personal favourite view of the Sacre Coeur. Head up this curving street from Place Dalida to take in one of the most Instagrammed streets in the city.
Want to read more about the arrondissements of Paris? Click HERE.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.