Village Paris

The Butte Montmartre, the Sacré-Coeur, Pigalle, the Batignolles district ... On the trail of picturesque Paris

Following in the footsteps of a horde of street entertainers, climb the picturesque 'Butte' (little hill), crowned by the Sacré-Coeur – the second most-visited site in Paris. A leisurely stroll will enable you to enjoy the pleasures of this wonderful Parisian ‘village’.
 
And going from one ‘village’ to another you can venture as far as the popular Batignolles area, a hidden gem, before wandering through the Saint-Georges theatre district and the little place Gustave-Toudouze.
 
Surrounded by bell towers, the day begins at the counter of a cafe with a café crème and crusty buttered baguette.
 
You can browse idly, filling your shopping basket full of delicious treats on rue Lepic, rue des Martyrs, rue Caulaincourt… and also with fabrics on rue d’Orsel and the Saint-Pierre market, and why not guitars on rue de Douai and rue Victor-Massé. Lunch is at a bistro serving simple, hot dishes or crunchy salads.
 
And given that the village is a bit of a ‘fashion victim’, there are designer boutiques and galleries to check out amid the charcuteries and dairy shops. In the evening, you can dress up, stay casual, dance the java, enjoy the nouba or a fiesta, or just go to the movies.

1 Batignolles district

Fleuristes dans le quartier des Batignolles, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Considered to be ‘a quiet district’. With its market, church, little public garden and cemetery, the Batignolles district has a villagey atmosphere!

2 Parc Clichy-Batignolles Martin Luther-King

Skate park du Parc Clichy-Batignolles, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

A lively green haven, the Parc Martin Luther-King was designed in response to environmental and urban regeneration issues. The Mairie de Paris named the park in honour of the pastor who spent his life struggling against racial prejudice in the United States.

3 Cimetière de Montmartre

Montmartre Cemetery, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Lovers of Montmartre come to the cemetery to admire the outdoor art, catch a glimpse of the sun, watch the squirrels hopping between maple trees or to make the acquaintance of a string of poets, generals, thinkers, inventors and the Lady of the Camellias. Discover Vigny, Nijinsky or Guitry in a labyrinth of mossy rows and irregular stone steps. Cross the path of stray tomcats, a bust of Rodin, the bridge of Caulaincourt and finally, Alexandre Dumas, Zola, Degas and Dalida. Then, it’s off again to look for Poulbot, Truffaut and Feydeau. Up above the statues and carved chapels, and the tombs of Stendhal and Berlioz, a brood of young sparrows chirp high in the chestnut trees. Eleven enchanting hectares.

4 Avenue Junot et villa Léandre

Villa Léandre, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Still on the hillside of the Butte, but beyond the sculpture of the Passe-Muraille – in the square where its creator Marcel Aymé once lived – is the start of avenue Junot with its cubic art deco unfussy architecture. Further on, there is a new change of scene at Villa Léandre, where you can wander around in a fairytale.

5 Moulin de la Galette

Moulin de la Galette restaurant, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

The ‘Blute-fin’ and the ‘Radet’ together make up the ‘Moulin de la Galette’. These windmills were once used to grind wheat, flowers or to press grape harvests. The ‘Blute-fin’ became known as the Moulin de la Galette in 1860, when it was transformed into a venue for festive dances. It was here that Renoir painted the famous ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’, which you can admire at the Musée d'Orsay. Later transformed into a music-hall, a television studio and then a restaurant, the Moulin de la Galette has continued to attract artists from all disciplines and from all over the world!

6 Espace Dalí Montmartre

Espace Dali Montmartre © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

This sanctuary at basement level showcases 300 works by the major Catalan artist in a scenography alternating sound and light. Engravings, sculptures and surrealist furniture, including the famous Montres Molles, Alice in Wonderland, the Mae West lip sofa, The Space Elephant and an array of fantastic creatures, recreating the phantasmagorias of Salvador Dalí. On certain dates, workshops initiate children into the playful creativity of the great surrealist.

7 Place du Tertre

Portraits sur la Place du Tertre, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Welcome to picture-postcard Montmartre, with its restaurant terraces and artists’ easels and portrait painters, who share 140 allotted spaces – 1 m² for two artists working alternately. But the historic village square merits a little tour.

8 Butte Montmartre

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, Paris © Thinkstock

Venice has its gondolas, Montmartre its steps – physically demanding but Romanesque in the extreme. Countless novels, legends and 'fabulous destinies' are set in the Butte, such as the Bateau-Lavoir in place Émile- Goudeau, where Picasso painted the Demoiselles d’Avignon, and the cafe made famous by Amélie Poulain in rue Lepic. The grocery from the film is higher up on rue des Trois-Frères. And there’s even more climbing to do – but Montmartre’s well worth it! Walk up rue Tholozé, for example, for a film or a drink in the winter garden of a tiny cinema run by Buñuel and Cocteau. Pause at the top of the street under the last remaining windmills, before continuing on up … keep going! At the top is the Sacré-Coeur, surrounded by a labyrinth of extraordinary little streets, and a vineyard, where the grape harvest is celebrated each year. There is also the flattering bust of Dalida in the square of the same name, breathtaking views over the rooftops of Paris, amazing crowds and hundreds of tranquil spots. From the square de la Turlure or the rue de la Chevalier-de-la- Barre, the Sacré-Coeur is just as wonderful from the side, the back or the front!

9 Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Basilique du Sacré Coeur, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

In 1873, the National Assembly voted for the construction of a basilica devoted to the Sacred Heart on the butte Montmartre. The site was chosen as much for its altitude (127 metres) as for its symbolism; it was sanctified long before with the martyrdom of Saint Denis and sullied by the violent acts of the Commune, in 1870. Pitfalls, controversies, underground quarries, and 83 buried pillars caused the work to extend over forty years. All these efforts were rewarded! From below, the Romano- Byzantine contours take on the appearance of a whipped-cream palace set on a hill of gardens and terraces: green and white outlined against swathes of azure. The view from the top of the steps, and especially from the top of the dome, is simply stunning.

10 Musée de Montmartre

Parce Domine, Musée de Montmartre © OTCP - Ville de Paris

In the 17th century, this folly was a country house belonging to the actor Rosimond, Molière’s successor. Much later, Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Francisque Poulbot, Suzanne Valadon and her son Maurice Utrillo had their studios here. Today, the house enables you to discover a chapter of history, complete with cabaret signs and dance posters. The Chat Noir, the Lapin Agile, the dances at the Moulin-Rouge and the Moulin de la Galette, and the Divan Japonais were the top spots. The cabaret singer Aristide Bruant also brought a crowd of night-revelling poets. La Goulue, Jane Avril, Nini Patte-en-l’air and other stage goddesses posed for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen, Adolphe Willette and other artists.

11 Jardin sauvage Saint-Vincent

Jardin Saint Vincent, Paris © OTCP

For a long time, this sloping parcel of land was overgrown with alders, foxgloves, brambles, ivy and wildlife. It was decided to preserve this fragile and poetic site as a place for observing the ecosystem and biodiversity. Guided tours only.

12 Halle Saint-Pierre – musée d’Art brut, Art singulier

Halle Saint-Pierre © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Housed in a wonderful Baltard-style building, facing the gardens of the Butte Montmartre, the Halle Saint-Pierre houses a museum, gallery, bookshop, auditorium and a cafe.

13 Marché Barbès

African grocery, Barbès, Paris  © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

On Saturday mornings under the overhead metro, the boulevard de la Chapelle is home to a colourful market that is as well-known for its atmosphere as it is for its affordable prices.

14 Place des Abbesses

There is a lot to be seen at the Place des Abbesses: the metro entrance designed by Hector Guimard, the merry-go-round, die-cast lanterns, the Wallace Fountain … In the nearby Square Jéhan-Rictus, groups of toddlers play under the enamelled lava wall, famous for its ‘Je t’aime’ [I love you] inscribed in 311 different languages.

15 Pigalle

Station de métro Blanche, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

From place d’Anvers to place de Clichy, night revellers, neon lights and illuminated signs ensure that, almost for as long as Paris has existed, this area never sleeps. In the Paris of yesteryear, wine, taxed at the entry to the city, was more expensive. So, Montmartre was the lively out-of-town place to go with its mix of lower classes, artists, young women and free thinkers. Later, the village was absorbed into the capital but the rowdiness continued. Piano-bars, night clubs, private clubs, concert halls, café-theatres, music halls, dinner shows, pubs, cabarets lasted for three seasons or over one hundred years. In the 1960s, Serge Gainsbourg sang “les petits gars de Liverpool” causing a sensation at the Bus Palladium. Others followed. When the Paris of Jacques Dutronc “awakes” at 5am, place Blanche – at the end of turbulent rue Fontaine – often looks the worse for wear. But after a short rest, all is well again.

16 Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Montmartre hill once bristled with windmills. They closed one after the other, while the Moulin de la Galette became a popular dance hall. In 1889, another opened with just the exterior decor of a windmill. Soon the French Cancan – black stockings, garters and petticoats – created an air of euphoria and stardom for La Goulue and her fellow dancers. The first revues were staged and, in 1907, a certain Mistinguett began her music-hall career. After the war, a new generation of artists arrived, including Edith Piaf, Montant, Trenet and Aznavour... Every evening, glitz, feathers and sequins continue to weave their magic at the Moulin Rouge.

17 Musée de la Vie romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

A tree-lined path, a rectangular flower garden, a little mansion far from the buzz of the city: this is where the painter and sculptor Ary Scheffer lived from 1830 to 1858. Delacroix, George Sand, Chopin dropped in as neighbours; the whole of the intellectual and artistic world of Paris (Liszt, Rossini, Turgenev, Dickens, etc.) frequented his workshop-salon. Even today, as you go from room to room, Chopin will accompany you with his piano as you discover George Sand, and the paintings of Ary Scheffer and his contemporaries.

18 Musée Gustave Moreau

Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris © DR

The drawings, paintings, watercolours and sculptures by Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) can now be viewed in the studios he had built around his home. On the 1st floor, visitors may admire the artist’s former apartment.

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