Wandering in Montmartre

Montmartre offers a visitor to Paris a little bit of everything – history, views and of course some fine food.

Officially recognized as part of Paris in 1860, Montmartre is one of the French capital’s highest areas, the access to the top being ensured by a 222 steps stair and by a funicular. The place was first mentioned in the novel “Hector Servadac” written by Jules Verne, as the birthplace of one of the characters. Several possible origins were found for its name, one being Mons Martis, also suggested by the temple dedicated to the god of war, that used to be found on the hill in roman times. A second temple, dedicated to Mercury was also located in the area.

A second explanation promotes as origins the “mountain of the martyr”, due to the connection with the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis, who seems to have survived his execution. This explanation is also supported by the fact that one of the streets leading to the area is named “rue des Martyrs”.

One of the most important places of the 18th and 19th century Paris, the area is also famous for its artistic past, if we consider the fact that painters like Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Steinlen, Picasso or Modigliani began their career here, finding inspiration for many of their first masterpieces. Perhaps due to its numerous apparitions in literature, to its rich historical past, or to its high importance for the French art, Montmartre remains one of Paris’ most visited areas, being often described by tourists in terms of “charming”, “impressive”, “a must see”.

Today, the streets of Montmartre are more likely to be filled with tourists. But, if you choose the time you visit carefully, or just try wandering a little further, it’s possible to find yourself on a quiet, winding street, full of the atmosphere of the old artists.

montmartre street

Needless to say there are plenty of (expensive) cafes and restaurants. But if you’re on a budget, you can still enjoy your time in Montmartre. Go prepared, with a baguette and a drink in your bag, climb the seemingly endless steps up to Montmartre, then simply wander the streets until it’s time for lunch or dinner. Then make your way to the side of the hill facing the direction of central Paris (although facing the other side you’ll see the Parc de Princes stadium), and simply take in the magnificent view whilst enjoying your food and drink. Now there’s something cheap to do in Paris that will give you priceless memories.

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