Mention a trip to France and Paris is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. Indeed, it is difficult to think of another city in the world that out does the cuisine, history and culture of Paris. What is really fascinating, however, is the fact Paris is really is a sum of its parts.
We have all experienced Paris in books, movies or other media. If you want to see that image of Paris, one neighborhood is the place to go. Montmartre sits below the Sacre Coeur Basilica and is Parisian through and through.
Okay, you have to see Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Once you are done with your tourist duties, why not slip into something a bit more
realistic? Montmartre is it with a combination of the very old and new.
A quick word of caution. Montmartre has been tamed a bit for the tourists, but it is still a place with plenty of character. Watch the street artists and your wallet at the same time. Both are likely to get plenty of attention.
As often happens with places where famous people once where, Montmartre has a lively collection of businesses trying to sell the past. Junk memorializing van Gogh, Monet and Picasso are to be found everywhere you turn. Ignore it.
Some say that the section called Montmartre is perfect until you exit the famous hill. Others say that the true part of Paris cannot be seen unless you descend from the mountain. No matter what is said individually, there is a collective scream around the globe that adores this Parisian culture clash.
Stroll the streets with the eyes of a person living many centuries ago. Try to look past the mimes and street performers in order to notice the ancient homes and cobblestones. Glance up at the street lights that line the great hill and try to imagine what a cold winter’s night might be like.
This is an area that is so powerful, you cannot help but feel the neighborhood soak into your clothes. The smell definitely might! Do not mistakenly attend the Moulin Rouge and think that is all there is. The entire area is the attraction.
Paris is not the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. It is the quirky, eccentric neighborhoods. Montmartre is one such area and one you will never forget. If you travel to Paris, missing it would be a sin.