The Mystique of Montmartre

There’s a mystique to Montmartre, a neighborhood that feels more like a village and sits on a hill overlooking Paris, with its white-washed basilica and fun bohemian vibe. Montmartre is in the 18th arrondissement, and the hyper-center of the neighborhood is definitely the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, a towering church at the top of the hill built entirely of travertine stone. The white façade is due to this travertine, as every time it rains in the city of light, the rain activates bleaching agents in the stones so the structure can literally wash itself!

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TIP: to get to Montmartre, start from the Anvers Metro station. I highly recommend this Paris Metro app, it NEVER steered us wrong the entire time we were in Paris, and we used the metro 3-4 times daily! Here’s what it looks like in your app store:

Paris Metro

From Anvers Metro station, venture up the very touristy street called Rue de Steinkerque. Don’t miss this chocolate shop “Maison Georges Larnicol” on the left side of the street – they have on display some mind-boggling chocolate sculptures! Below are Notre-Dame and one of its most gruesome gargoyles. Both are nearly 3 feet tall! Of chocolate!

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At the T intersection at the top of this street, take a left on Place Saint-Pierre to find the base of the steps that lead to the basilica. There are tiered gardens breaking up your walk up to the hilltop basilica. Don’t feel like trekking up that many steps…don’t worry! There is a funicular just tucked to the left of this gorgeous tiered park to take you to the top! (for a few euros, or free with your Museum Pass). But on your way there, take a moment to admire this gorgeous carousel:

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We were lucky to be here on a clear day…the blues of the sky were in stark contrast to the crisp whiteness of the basilica.

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The gentleman in all white at the base of the steps is not a real statue. This Parisian paints himself white each day to earn money! If you watch long enough, a tourist is bound to be startled by his movement, usually after they have put a few euros into his basket. There are a variety of performers in the Montmartre area, including amazing acrobatics who are able to climb the light posts all while bouncing a soccer ball from limb to limb!

TIP: Beware of scams…do not accept any bracelets, namely woven ones. Once it gets tied to your wrist  – and they can be very fast – the scam artist will grab a hold of the bracelet and not let you go until you pay him money! If you are approached, just deliver a firm “non” and keep moving. Even if you just have that gut feeling, simply move away to a safer area. Paris is a very low crime city, and in my visits, I have never been frightened. You just have to be smart and trust your instincts.

Once you’re up at the top there are many lovely photo opportunities:

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Here is my beautiful model on the steps of the basilica ❤ She is also my eldest daughter who was fortunate enough to come along to Paris as a college graduation gift.

During the prior trip to Paris, I did not get to go inside Sacré-Coeur, so this time I made sure we made it happen! And boy was I missing out before! The interior of this church takes your breath away. (Entrance into the basilica is free). There are several signs inside  stating that no pictures are allowed, but once I saw tourists taking photos, I snuck a few as well…(shhhh, don’t tell!)

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The basilica is an “active” church, and we came across a nun doing paperwork in a side office. There was something so charming about her with the sun beaming in on her from the upper window. Picture cred goes to my Aunt Judy Rasmussen 🙂

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As we ventured onto the rest of the neighborhood, even the side façade of Sacré-Coeur did not disappoint, and was catching my eye too!

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I love a good door! And this one was extremely tall! I left a few people’s heads in the bottom of the shot in the hopes it gives you perspective of the door’s mass. The intricate carvings along the top were amazing! And it’s just a side entrance! The French really know how to make all things special.

I’m looking forward to bringing you more content as soon as I can…coming soon is the rest of our morning walk through Montmartre, as well as a very helpful post regarding some of the pitfalls and triumphs of renting a car in France! So many blog posts to write, so little time!

À bientôt!