1. Montmartre is the village on a hill in Paris that pretty much everyone recognizes. While most people take photos from the front of the bright white Sacré Coeur Basilica, which is the emblem of this part of the 18th, I love to escape the crowds and glimpse it from behind. To approach from this side, you get off the metro, not at Abbesses, but at Lamarck-Caulaincourt, which also means you get to meander amongst some of the butte‘s less trodden paths.
2. Saint Denis is the patron saint of the city of Paris, and according to legend, he was actually martyred here in Montmartre. He was the first bishop of Paris at a time when it was illegal to be Christian in the city, and when he was discovered, he was marched to the top of Montmartre and beheaded. He then picked up his head and carried it north to the city of Saint-Denis, but not before washing it in a pool of water in what is now the Square Suzanne Buisson. There’s a statue there now of Denis holding his own head in his hands.
(And yes, long-time reader of this blog, you have heard this story before. Saint Denis is also on the front of Notre-Dame Cathedral.)
3. Montmartre is filled with streets of stairs leading up towards Sacré Coeur. You can also take a funicular to the top, but I much prefer the climb. It’s always been my dream to live in Montmartre, and I’ve always imagined that if I did, I’d skip out on joining a gym and just climb the stairs all the time.
4. There are beautiful vista views of Paris from the top of the steps leading to the basilica, but you can’t actually see Paris’ most famous monument from there. If you wind a bit towards the Place du Tertre, you’ll see the outline of the iron lady in the distance.
5. Once you’re past the Place du Tertre, you come to some of the typically Montmartrois streets behind it – and you can still see the omnipresent basilica in the distance. This part of Montmartre tends to get pretty crowded on the weekends, so I prefer to visit in the middle of the week, and even then, I don’t stay long – there are too many other beautiful spots to discover.