Earlier this summer, I spent two colorful nights in the Montmartre neighborhood on the right bank of Paris. We found ourselves in the 18th arrondissement, after spending two nights in the Latin Quarter, which I truly adored. Montmartre was wholly different from the Latin Quarter – more people, more restaurants, more bars & clubs, more everything.
Home to Moulin Rouge and the Pigalle red-light district, the Montmartre neighborhood is made for struggling artists and young travelers looking for a night out. The bf and I were, well, neither. But, we did have a fun time people-watching and exploring this funky neighborhood.
We stayed at a small boutique hotel, aptly named Hotel du Moulin, selected mainly for its garden-style rooms and adorable sitting area right outside of our room.
We promptly took advantage of our private parisienne garden and plopped down with a bottle of wine (and the required bière for M). I was right in the middle of one of my favorite tween trilogies, Divergent, by Veronica Roth (read it) and was happy to pass the afternoon with wine, trail mix and dystopian thrills.
That evening, we gussied ourselves up for a night on the town – straight of of the “Tourist’s Guide to Montmartre” and stumbled our way down the hill to THE Moulin Rouge. Complete with a bottle of champagne, we spent the evening watching barely-clothed women (and men) in elaborate headpieces dance the can can. Between the dance acts, there were sideshows – the best being a pair of surly, lumberjack looking men, clad in overalls, doing crazy gymnastics moves. Definitely prep for the Olympics.
After the show, we joined the crowds and walked around the Pigalle district – lots of girls! girls! girls! signs and not a lot of delicious late-night food options. So, in Montmartre, on our 3rd day in Paris, after a bottle of champagne, we chowed down on a gyro and the saltiest french fries I’ve ever tasted. Let’s just say, we didn’t find culinary excellence in Montmartre.
Our second day was spent doing much more respectable things, like drinking coffees and visiting the Sacré-Coeur and the Montmartre cemetery.
The Sacre-Coeur was stunning and had some of the busiest crowds that we encountered in Paris. Ugh, to be seen as a tourist. Shameful day I tell you. But, it was in fact beautiful and I managed to snap one of my favorite photos of the trip:
After watching a few street performers and making our way through the crowded artist’s square at the top of the hill, we began our descent back down to the the foot of Montmartre. Along the way, M managed to snap a few special candids:
Next stop was a wander through the Montmartre cemetery with tombs dating back to 1825. I find cemeteries to be oddly calming, and I spend a decent amount of time meandering through Arlington Cemetery (close by where I live) at the end of my evening runs. There is something so still that you can’t find anywhere else in this crazy world. This particular cemetery is worth a visit and reminded me a lot of the cemeteries we visited in New Orleans a few years ago.
Our last night in Paris was spent watching the Eurocup 2012 final between Spain and Italy in the sports bar next to Moulin Rouge – with a perfectly parisienne name of O’Sullivan’s. Might as well end our tour of terrible food in Montmartre with some heartless bar food. It was really, really bad. But the beer was good. And so was the crowd. Seriously, football (ahem, soccer) is a totally different sport when you are in Europe. I think I could even be a fan!
If I could do it again, I’d still stay one night in Montmartre, at Hotel du Moulin for both the garden and the easy-peasy location. But that’s it. And I might even pack a bag of delicious quiche and crepes and croque-monsieur from the Latin Quarter to keep me satiated. ‘Cause goodness knows, I get some kinda cranky when food is lacking!
So, at the end of our lazy, not so tasty, tour of Montmartre, we packed our bags and made our way north.