A little piece of confetti is blinking the soft sunset light. Then it is ripped apart from the grey wall by the wind and drifting down the narrow alleys of cobblestone roads. Between old lanterns and gables that seem to lean towards to each other you can spot a white cathedral with onion domes. The bohemian side of town Montmartre of Paris is a labyrinth made out of galleries, street art and tiny restaurants. Here it is an obligation to lose yourself and your head. Throw away your map, deactivate your data and follow the pieces of confetti.
While exiting the metro station cold wind is crawling under my hat. New Year’s Eve in Paris. Very romantic. If you’re booking it on a warm day in late autumn in Germany by totally forgetting about the meaning of “winter”. The exit is enclosed by a high fence. Strange people are hanging around and I’m trying not to look like someone who is carrying an expensive lens in his backpack. It seems to be helpful that my hat looks like an owl (a colleague of me called it “unreliable” once). I’m right on Boulevard de Clichy. Kebab snack bars and sex shops are providing an appealing face of the buildings along the street. Unfortunately there is no metro station really close to Montmartre. So I had to walk there. Walk fast.
There is no need to find the best direction to explore Montmartre. Every direction is perfect. You can start at Sacré Coeur Basilica, at the famous Moulin Rouge or right from the cemetery of Montmartre. The secret of the area is to have any plan at all. Roam through the alleys guided by colors, art and beauty. Montmartre is located 430 feet high on a hill and marks the highest point of Paris.
Well, according to this you might think there must be also a fantastic view. True story! There is a spot on top of the stairs of Sacré Coeur Basilica. You only need to get away from the cheapjacks that are haunting you with their annoying wristbands. Afterwards you’ll have a fantastic view over Paris and even the nostalgic carousel you might know from the movie “Amélie”.
The cathedral was built between 1875 and 1914. With its white and majestic dorms it towers above
the whole hill. The stones used for the building are frost resistant. A very good idea in consideration of the nice temperatures around the turn of the year. I recommend visiting Sacré Coeur and
the overlook early in the morning or in the evening to avoid crowds and enjoy the beautiful light. The entrance is free.
From Sacré Coeur many alleys are leading into Montmartre. A black cat is looking from a tin-plate sign; the air is sweet with crepes. The ground is uneven and paint is blistering from the cream-colored blinds. Around every corner small galleries and cafes are hiding. The area is partly crowded but it does not lose its charming atmosphere.
There is a pink plastic TV glued to the wall and a blue handwriting says “I still hate everybody except you“. Moreover, you’ll find dancing figures surrounded by confetti everywhere. These amazing pieces of art belong to the artist SOBR.
I’ve seen his collages in big cities all over the world. The French artist pasts walls up with themes that are relating to the techno scene. Some dancing figures are people he photographed on rave parties. They consist only of few colors, but they are framed by colorful confetti. By the way: Many other pieces of SOBR can be found in Berlin!
In the middle of narrow lanes you’ll find the amazing Place du Tertre. Colorful umbrellas are rising into the blue sky and canvases with easels form a line on the cobblestone. Here you can find artists painting landscapes and architecture as well as portraits. Watch them or buy a piece. Back in the 19th and 20th century Montmartre was the home of many artists. Among them also Pablo Picasso or Vincent van Gogh. They did not move to this area because it was so beautiful or inspiring – it was simply an affordable place to live. Today van Gogh would be probably able to gild the entire Sacré Coeur Basilica.
Don’t miss out the famous vaudeville Moulin Rouge when you are exploring Montmartre. People usually
make a big fuss about the old mill but by day it’s just another building. Nevertheless, it’s looking awesome at night when the red neon signs are illuminating the crowded street. Of course you
can go visiting on of their shows if you’ll find $150 in your pocket by accident. If you do so don’t forget to hide it behind an owl-hat because Moulin Rouge is located on the amazing
Boulevard de Clichy again.
For exploring Montmartre and having a nice coffee you should plan three hours up to half a day. The Boulevard de Clichy looks a little dubious but it’s not dangerous there. If you want to visit a show of Moulin Rouge I highly recommend buying tickets in advance because their shows are very popular. For getting to Montmartre by metro get off at one of the following stations: Anvers, Blanche, Abbesses and Lamarck-Caulaincourt.