When I went to Paris with my mom for the first time, many years ago, the one place that we wanted to see, but didn’t get a chance to was Montmartre. I knew when Ben & I went that I couldn’t miss it again! Montmartre is in the 18th arrondissement. (Paris neighborhoods are numbered & each has it’s own distinct flavor.) Montmartre sits atop a big hill. You pass the Moulin Rouge, travel up some intense steps (or skip the stairs in favor of the tram, subway, or a cab) and find the imposing Basilica de Sacre-Coeur at the top. We walked the idyllic streets of Paris as much as we could before caving and jumping in a cab.
Our walk took us past the famous Shakespeare & Company bookstore, a tribute to the original. During the 1920s, Shakespeare and Company was a bookstore run by Sylvia Beach, an American who created a space for the writers of the Lost Generation such as Ezra Pound, Hernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. Beach loaned out books written in English, helped publish controversial books, and encouraged the penniless writers. It closed during the German occupation of Paris.
When we arrived in Montmarte, I was instantly charmed. During the Belle Epoque era, some of the most famous artists in history lived and painted in this ecclectic neighborhood including Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. Today there is still a marketplace surrounded by quaint, aging buildings where artists sit and paint. I walked laps through the marketplace many times, agonizing over which paintings to bring home before settling in to mull over my choices at a sidewalk cafe. We enjoyed a Croque Monsieur and a Nutella crepe while eyeing the art. I eventually ended up snagging as many canvas pieces as would fit in my suitcase as well as a few watercolors & sketches that were able to roll up.
Locals flock to the stairs of the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur at sunset for a picnic and the view! Grab a bottle of wine and some nibbles to really appreciate the area. Photos are not allowed inside the church, but it is worth the hike up the hill to soak in the view and take in the vast cathedral.