No Paris visit is complete without a walk through the hilltop village of Montmartre, where artists like Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani lived and produced some of their famed works. Narrow cobbled streets, famous cafés, classic bistros, and fabulous views – it all comes together beautifully to create the quintessential Parisian experience. Exploring the neighborhood on foot is a must, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring water with you, and give yourself at least half day to explore it leisurely – especially if doing it with kids. I also suggest writing down the neighborhood's main points of interest and mapping out your walking route ahead of time using your mobile phone. This will help you find your way easily once you get there. (Or you can always book a walking tour with a professional guide!)
Our self-guided walking tour started right outside the Blanche metro station, steps from the famous Moulin Rouge. We walked up Rue Lepic where we almost immediately came upon the Café des Deux Moulins from the movie "Amélie." While Amélie’s café was too busy for us, we stopped at another café at the end of the street for croissants and an espresso. Just the right boost to fuel our excursion!
From there we went looking for two of Montmartre’s famous 17th-century windmills – the Moulin de la Galette and the Moulin Radet. The original Moulin de la Galette is inside private property now so we couldn’t go in, but we were still able to see the top of it from the street. A few steps from there, on Rue Girardon, a restaurant called La Galette des Moulins houses the old Moulin Radet.
Walking up the street from La Galette des Moulins, we stopped for a "play break" at a small park called Place Suzanne Buisson where, surprisingly, we came upon the statue of a man holding his head in his hands. It turned out to be Saint Denis, considered one of the three patron saints of the city of Paris and whose legend has it that after being beheaded (in a location close to the park), he simply picked up his head and walked away with it!
Once June had a chance to climb and go down a slide a few times, we continued walking to Place Dalida, named after a famous singer who lived here in the 1960s. The walk up the street from Place Dalida is short but beautiful, ending at the Instagram famous La Maison Rose.
We then focused our attention on finding Paris’ only remaining and "secret" vineyard, Les Clos Montmartre on Rue des Saules, which produces about 950 bottles annually, all sold to fund community projects.
Our adventure then took us towards Le Consultat restaurant at the Place du Tetre – Montmartre’s most popular square with a myriad of little shops selling Parisian mementos, restaurants, and street artists doing sketches.
As a light rain started coming down, we followed Rue Azais to the imposing Sacré-Cour Basilica, which was packed with tourists trying to make their way inside the travertine building. We decided to skip the Basilica's interior visit as June was starting to get tired and I was starting to feel hungry. Instead, we headed down the stairs to the bottom of the hill, allowing June to go on a carousel ride while I took on the outstanding views of the Basilica from below.
To finish our tour, we walked into Rue Tardieu, the street of the carousel, and followed for a few blocks until we reached the Abbesses metro station. There, hidden in a small park behind the station's entrance, we found our last photo stop of the day: the popular I love You Wall (Le mur des je t’aime). Similar to a huge blackboard, the wall is made up of 612 tiles of enameled lava featuring 1,000 "I love yous" written in 250 different languages.
Oh yes, dear Paris, we love you!
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