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On the evening of our first day in Paris, Sam and I decided to push through our jet-lag induced fog and visit one of the city’s most iconic and hilly neighborhoods: Montmartre.
For more than a century Montmartre was the neighborhood of choice for premier artists such as Renoir, Picasso, Monet, and Van Gough because of the low rent and vibrant society.
Though Montmartre has become a popular tourist destination and increased rent has driven many artists away, the area has retained its character and charm. A walk through the cobblestone streets is like taking a step back in time to when writers scribbled away at cafes and artists’ studios lined the streets.
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The best way to see Montmartre is to simply meander the streets and take in the scenery. Though the weather was pretty overcast and drizzly while we were there, and Sam and I were both a little crazy with jet lag, I fell in love with area immediately.
The atmosphere in Montmartre is such a drastic change from the rest of the city that I felt as though I’d been transported to an idyllic French village (Fun fact: Montmartre actually used to be a separate village that provided Paris with flour).
Though Montmartre is no longer the hub it once was, it does still draw a fair amount of local artists who proudly display their work for passing tourists. Many will try to reel you in to pose for a portrait.
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The most popular landmark in neighborhood is the beautiful Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Basillica of the Sacred Heart), a Roman Catholic Church located at the top of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris.
As long as you are meandering uphill, you should eventually find yourself at Sacré-Cœur, which makes getting lost difficult for even someone as directionally-challenged as me.
Entrance to the church is free, so be sure to check out the inside as well.
The hilltop location makes for some pretty epic city-views. Even though it was cloudy when we were there, we enjoyed sitting on the front steps for a long time looking out over the beautiful city (Not to mention, our feet were throbbing at this point from all our uphill-meandering).
Montmartre is also home to countless cafes, bakeries, and restaurants, all of which are pretty enough to be photographed for jigsaw puzzles.
Considering all the walking, you are bound to get hungry at some point. Not that being hungry had much to do with our eating habits while in Europe. Though I will say, I’m not completely spineless when it comes to binging on European delights. I strictly adhered to my 3 desserts/day regime…
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After a thirty-minute fruitless hunt for the house Van Gogh used to occupy (Thanks a lot Lonely Planet….) we decided to give up and eat at Le Relais Gascon, which was affordable with good ambiance (though it seemed to be a hub for tourists rather than a local hangout).
In honor of Julia Child, I tried boeuf bourguignon for the first time and was a big fan. Sam ordered roasted chicken, which was delicious as well.
By the time we finished dinner the jet lag was hitting us pretty hard and our legs were aching from all the walking we did (31,349 steps according to my iPhone…) so we decided to head back to our apartment and call it a night.
If you find yourself in Paris (as I hope you do at least once in your life!!), be sure to add Montmartre into your travel itinerary.
What is your favorite neighborhood in Paris?
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