A Weekend Guide to Montmartre in Paris, France
A Weekend in Montmartre
A Guide to Paris's Famous Offbeat Arrondissement
I’ve never been one of those people who feels the need to follow a set plan on vacation. When given the option, I always prefer to explore a new place at my leisure. Not only is it the best way to explore the ins and outs of a city, but it is also a great method for discovering cool restaurants or quirky boutiques that are off the beaten path.
This was my strategy for my recent trip to Paris. Like many other travelers, I was drawn to the City of Lights for its one-of-a-kind monuments, its charming environment, and its world famous cuisine. Since I only had two days to visit, I knew I could either pack in all the sights or stroll through the city streets while visiting a few top spots along the way. Can you guess which option I chose?
Wandering through the nooks and crannies of beautiful Paris was an experience like no other. I stumbled upon beautiful shops, ate some mouthwatering meals, and made lasting memories. Read on to find out how to ditch the crowds and discover Paris for yourself.
Where To Stay:
The Plug Inn Boutique Hostel - This hostel, located in the hip Montmartre district, is one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever visited. In addition to having stylish, contemporary decor, it is also staffed around the clock. I loved that there were outlets and night lights next to every bed. My favorite parts of my stay, however, had to be the free breakfast and the hostel cat. The breakfast spread was comprehensive, with everything from coffee and orange juice to cereal, croissants, and baguettes. As for the hostel cat, it was just as pretty and aloof as you would expect a cat at a French hostel to be. I loved it!
What To Do:
Spend some quality time in Montmartre - In case you’re not familiar with it, Montmartre is the “artsy” arrondissement in Paris. While it is home to some unique storefronts and restaurants today, it was one of the main hubs for the artists of the world in decades past. During the Belle Epoque of the twentieth century, big names like Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh spent time in this neighborhood. Their influence certainly made an impression on the area, since Montmartre is still considered the most bohemian zone in Paris.
Personally, I was lured into this hotspot by the irresistable number of chic boutiques and cozy cafes that lined the streets. I wandered in and out of some of the loveliest stationery stores, jewelry shops, and pop-up boutiques I have ever seen. I couldn’t help but to do a bit of shopping along the way!
Take in the view at Sacre Coeur - Regardless of the city, one of my favorite things to do on vacation is to make my way to the highest point to see the skyline. Hiking to the top of the hill to see the famous Sacre Coeur church was no easy feat, thanks to the imposing staircase that I had to climb to get there, but the view was well worth the trip. I could even see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Visit the Eiffel Tower - As much of an unconventional tourist as I consider myself to be, I couldn’t say no to a walk around the Eiffel Tower. It would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Colosseum. Standing in front of the tower was like something out of a dream. I had seen it in photos and in movies for so long. To be finally standing right in front of it was almost unreal.
Explore what’s interesting to you - I think that, wherever you go, you should find something that connects with one of your interests. For me, this was making time to see the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore. I read about it before my visit to France and was intrigued. As a massive book lover, I knew that Shakespeare and Co. store had been a hangout spot for many Beat authors and bohemian writers in the past. I knew I needed to stop by this literary locale before I left the city.
What To Eat:
A freshly baked baguette - My friend and I had a running joke about how many baguettes we had eaten during our stay in France. They were just that good! The best thing to do is to pick up one (or more!) from a local bakery. For about a euro, you can savor the perfect combination of a crunchy exterior and a soft, warm dough. Talk about yum.
A lemon and sugar crepe at Creperie Broceliande - I stumbled into this restaurant in a walking-induced hunger. It turned out to be a great decision because I had one of the simplest and tastiest crepes ever. The lemon and sugar crepe, which I ordered at the waitress’s suggestion, was light and flavorful at the same time. The flavors were much stronger than I thought they would be, and I was tempted to lick my plate when I finished!
A savory to-go crepe at La Droguerie du Marais - I knew this place would be good when I saw the line extending down the block from it. I was sold when I saw the owner standing at the shop window, whipping up crepes as fast as the eye could see. I ordered the vegetarian crepe, which was chock full of vegetables and a delicious layer of shredded cheese. It was the perfect lunch for a day of exploring.
All in all, I had a magical time in Paris. I saw a lot of the main sights, but I took my time exploring the nooks and crannies as well. Taking a casual approach to my city explorations is what helped me to discover some delightful shops and tasty meals. Offbeat travel is the way to go!