Montmartre is perhaps one of the most historic and famous neighborhoods in Paris. Aside from it’s Moulin Rouge fame, Picasso museum, and Sacre Coeur iconography, the Montmartre area is the premiere home to Parisian artists. Let us not forget that Piaf, Dalida, Apollinaire, Cocteau, and Van Gogh once lived in this artistic paradise. It’s easy to see why this neighborhood boasts many of the world’s most famous geniuses: the timeless cafés, the beautifully (albeit steep) intricate staircases and the windmills make for an endless trove of inspiration. The Abbesses and Lamarck area within Montmartre were on our list of places to check out, so here’s our run-down:
First things first: where to get coffee in Montmartre. If you want to see where all the famous painters used to fine tune their craft, you’re going to want to make a stop at the Place du Tertre. This square can be found tucked behind and to the left of the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Chez La Mere Catherine (6 Place du Tertre) offers a quintessential French coffee sipping experience. This café is decorated very traditionally with bistro chairs filling both the interior and exterior. They make amazing coffee and hot chocolate for those chilly winter nights, and delicious gelato for the hot summer days.
La Renaissance (112 rue Championnet) is another cool café/bistro that served as a Belle Epoque back-drop for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastard’s. The mosaic floors and huge mirrors give the rather dark space a whimsical warmth. They serve huge food portions and know how to brew a mean espresso. Speaking of espresso, have you tried Café Lomi (3 ter Rue Marcadet)? This ultra hip, modern space takes it’s coffee making seriously. They serve everything from cappuccinos to espressos to iced coffee to tea. Café Lomi has a sort of New York hipster vibe that invites you in to get work done, kick back with friends, or enjoy a slice of that New York Cheesecake….yummm.
If you’re looking for some updated French cuisine in a classic ambiance, the Moulin de la Galette (83 rue Lepic) is up your ally. This restaurant serves foie gras, cochon de lait, and a chocolate fondant that is to die for. What makes this place so cool is that it’s in one of the only two remaining windmills in Montmartre. The other is just down the road and is private property. La Balancoire (6 rue Aristide Bruant) is a great restaurant that offers variety and surprises when you drop in. Though this restaurant is a little pricier, the manager, Antonin knows how to recommend the best vintage wine to go with your dish. The food is always an imaginative twist on many French classics including: caramelized duck cottage pie, French toast with Nutella, and caramel poached pear.
It would be hard to describe many parts of Montmartre as anything less than hip. The bars near Abbesses and Lamarck offer loads of variety! One of my personal favorites is the Kremlin (6 rue André Antoine). This spot portrays lots of funky Russian memorabilia that line the walls. And what would a bar called the Kremlin be without imported vodka. The bar also serves many of it’s own original cocktails, but you’ll have to get in line and make your way to order, as there aren’t any hostesses here.
If you’re looking for something even funkier but less Russian themed, Les Taulieres (10 rue de la Fontaine du But) is another cool find. Talk about crazy décor—Les Taulieres has furry chairs, orange vinyl stools, and comic strips all over the walls. The space feels retro but serves up nothing less than the trendiest cocktails out there: the Juicy Lucy and the Vice Squad Clothilde, to name a few. To air on the side of cost friendly, it felt necessary to include Au Clair de Lune (1 rue Ramey). This animated bar has a happy hour from 6-10pm with drinks at €5 or less during that time. All the locals come here to have their aperos, smoke their cigarettes, and gossip. Some other favorites include No Problemo (14 rue Charles Nodier) for cocktails and live piano music, Le Supercoin (3 rue Baudelique) for the best beer in Montmartre, and Les 36 Corneil (36 rue de Rochechouart) for some great wine and mingling opportunities with the locals.
The shopping in the Abbesses area is super diverse and ranges from big name brands to individual up and coming designers. One such designer shop is Shop Pantheone (53 rue de Clignancourt). This haute couture collection is designed to highlight women’s femininity via masculine streetwear. The concept is very cool and designers Aurélie Leyre and Déborah Amaral even offer baseball caps with all of their dresses to play up the duality of masculine and feminine. Jacquemus (59 rue Ganneron) is another fun designer with a fresh take on the classics. This place is fairly expensive and is all about downplaying fancier dresses, skirts, etc into their more simplistic and understated forms. If you aren’t looking to foot a huge shopping bill while in Montmartre, Guerrisol (19 avenue de Clichy) might be for you. This secondhand vintage shop is overflowing with clothes. It requires some patience and sifting skills, but you just might find your very own Chanel or YSL bargain.
On the side of home goods, by far the best store in town is Spree (16 rue de la Vieuville). The name itself indicates that you’ll want to go on a shopping spree here. Stylist Roberta Oprandi and artist Bruni Hadjadj came together to produce a multifunctional space in which they could sell pieces for the home as well as display artwork. The store showcases many designer furniture pieces from the Carven, Acne, MM6 and Marc by Marc Jacobs collections. Nice, but again, pricey.
Montmartre’s best market is no doubt the Brocante des Abbesses (Place des Abbesses). This is the coolest secondhand place to check out on a Sunday. The market isn’t packed with tourists, and the odds are good that if you rummage around, you’ll find an exquisite vintage lamp, painting or necklace. This is an art and vintage lover’s paradise.
There is always something going on in Montmartre event wise. The area is the most famous in Paris for it’s burlesque and cabaret shows. If you’re interested in seeing one, the Moulin Rouge (82 boulevard de Clichy) still offers a classic rendition of the French cabaret. You won’t be disappointed with all of the flamboyant costumes, glitz, music, and champagne if you’re looking for an evening of visual excess.
There are two amazing venues in Montmartre for concert goers: La Cigale and La Trianon. La Cigale (120, boulevard Rochechouar) is a beautiful theatre that showcases many indie rock artists from around the world. La Trianon (80 boulevard de Rochechouart) is another stunning concert hall that famous singers, joint musical acts, and even circus acts. The best part of this venue is that you can eat before or after a show within its adjacent café-bar!
If rock’s your thing, check out La Boule Noir (120 boulevard de Rochechouart). Metallica, The Kills, The Libertines and Cat Power have all performed in this former dance hall and cabaret. If you’re looking for a performance center and dance marathon, pop over to La Machine du Moulin Rouge (90 boulevard de Clichy). This three story venue doesn’t disappoint with it’s whimsical décor, drink and musical selection.
If going to a cinema or theatre is more up your alley, there are plenty of those too! The Studio 28 (10 rue Tholozé) offers the best feature films from countless generations. The Theatre Ouvert (4 bis cité Véron) focuses on contemporary theatre, while carefully selecting a handful of the manuscripts they receive to highlight the fundamental link between writing and performing.
I was a bit surprised to find out just how many museums and cultural gems Montmartre had to offer. My favorite of the list would definitely be the Musée de Montmartre (12-14 rue Cortot). This museum sits atop a hilltop and is hidden behind a garden and offers an extensive history of how Montmartre was eventually annexed to become a part of Paris, it’s artistic movements, and the general way of life that once existed in Montmartre.
Another museum that has been a personal favorite is the Musée National Gustave Moreau (14 rue de La Rochefoucauld). The vast gallery is dedicated to the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau and his masterpieces. Downstairs the museum houses his huge collection of family portraits, while the upstairs features his fantasy realm with some very trippy tableaux. It would be unfair to mention a museum dedicated to this famous painter without recognizing and equally famous French icon. The Musée Edith Piaf (5 rue Crespin du Gast) is located in an apartment where the singer once lived. The museum features everything from her old pictures to letters, which give any visitor a real sense of her passion for music and France.
On the more modern and racy side of things lies the Musée de l’Eroticisme (72 boulevard de Clichy). Though some would argue that it is similar to many museums found in Amsterdam’s red light district, this is Montmartre’s very own show and tell of erotic sculptures, photos, and pottery, housed in a 7 story, refurbished building.
So tell us: what are your favorite things to do and see in the Abbesses/Lamarck areas of Montmartre?!