Montmartre, a romantic walk along Mist Alley (2 km)
1. Abbesses métro
Start your Montmartre tour at Abbesses métro station. If you just hopped off the métro, do use the lift to exit : you might not want to walk up one of Paris' deepest métro stations (although the graffiti and artwork along the stairs can be nice, and there are chairs along the way if you need a rest!)...
The station is located on Place des Abbesses, named in homage of the abbesses from the former Dames de Montmartre abbey. Check out the Hector Guimard's Art Nouveau métro entrance, one of the only three remaining in Paris today.
2. Church of Saint Jean de Montmartre
The Saint-Jean de Montmartre church was built in the early 20th century. It was Paris' first reinforced concrete church, and its construction caused quite a stir. The church was built in Art Nouveau style and the concrete was covered in bricks and ceramics. Step back far enough to check out the church façade and entrance porch before visiting.
3. Square Jehan-Rictus and the "I Love You" Wall
Head to the small Jehan-Rictus garden just off the Place des Abbesses. Rest on one of the many benches, let your kids have a go at the playground, and of course, check out the "Mur des Je t'aime", the "I Love You Wall". This 10 metre-long wall in enameled lava tiles is covered in "I Love You's" written in over 300 languages. Find yours!
4. Le Bateau-Lavoir
In a corner of the Place Emile-Goudeau stands the Bateau-Lavoir building. A "bateau-lavoir" is a "washing boat", a large timber floating structure where clothes were washed. They used to be a familiar sight along the Seine. How did a bateau-lavoir get stranded here on the Butte Montmartre? Some say the original building layout was like the inside of a ship, with rooms set out on both sides of a long corridor, hence the name "bateau" ("boat"). Others claim the timber building would creak just like a washing boat...
Artists and writers such as Maufra, Gauguin, Picasso, Brancusi, Modigliani (and many more) moved here in the late 19th century, most of them without much money. The Bateau-Lavoir became a creative hub, called the "laboratoire central de la peinture" ("Central painting laboratory") by Max Jacob who lived here. The timber house burnt down in 1970, and was rebuilt in concrete. Today, the Bateau-Lavoir houses workshop space for young artists.
5. Moulin Radet
Very close to the Moulin de la Galette stands the Moulin Radet at 83 rue Lepic, the other remaining Montmartre windmill. Under the Moulin Radet is a restaurant called ... "Le Moulin de la Galette". Why not "Le Moulin Radet" you may ask. Well, because together, the Moulin Radet and the Moulin de la Galette were part of the same compound, called "le Moulin de la Galette".
6. Moulin de la Galette – La Galette Windmill
Located at 75-77 rue Lepic, le Moulin de la Galette (la Galette Windmill. "Galette" is a type of bread or biscuit) already existed in the 17th century. Flour is said to have been produced here until 1870, when the Moulin was turned into a "guinguette" or dance-hall. It was popular with artists and poets, and inspired painters such as Renoir, Picasso, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec...
7. Le Passe-Muraille sculpture and Place Marcel Aymé
Along rue Girardon is the Place Marcel Aymé. The sculpture of a man coming out of a wall is a tribute to one of French writer Marcel Aymé's most popular novels, "Le passe-muraille" ("The Man Who Walked through Walls").
8. Villa Léandre
Turn off from l'Avenue Junot to the quiet and picturesque Villa Léandre. Low houses line the curved cobbled street. Most have tiny gardens in front, but the protected location allows plants to grow quite well (there even was an Olive tree during our last visit!). Don't feel like you are in Paris? That's right, some of the houses have a distinctive English feel, with red bricks and pitched roofs... Some people even claim one of the houses looks like the 10 Downing street...
9. Square Suzanne Buisson
Located between rue Girardon and rue Junot, the Square Suzanne Buisson used to be the Château des Brouillards' garden. It was built in the 1950's in Art Déco style. The garden was named after Suzanne Buisson, a Montmartre Résistante who died during deportation.
The Square is a popular Montmartre hangout for all ages. There is a playground and a pétanque corner. It is particularly pleasant in the spring, when the cherry and apple trees are in bloom. Notice the statue of a decapitated man holding his head? It represents Saint Denis, Paris' first bishop. He is said to have washed his head at this spot after his own decapitation...
10. Allée des Brouillards (Mist Alley)
L'Allée des Brouillards ("Mist alley") starts at the Place Dalida, a square dedicated to the Egyptian-born Italian-French singer Dalida. After her suicide in 1987, the city of Paris paid homage to her talent by placing her statue close to her former Montmartre home. Walk up the few steps to l'Allée des Brouillards.
L'Allée des Brouillards... The name itself, Mist Alley, evokes a romantic secret garden.... The Allée is lined by charming houses and small gardens with often thriving plants, and even an 18th century château, the Château des Brouillards. In the late 19th century, the Château and surroundings were abandoned and many poor artists moved in (Steinlein, Poulbot, Renoir, Modigliani were some of them). The area was later renovated and today it is difficult not to succumb to the Allée's charm. L'Allée des Brouillards continues to be a source of creative inspiration. Click here to listen to Claude Nougaro's nostalgic "Allée des Brouillards" (1998). And perhaps, as you stroll through, no matter what the season, or the time of the day, be touched by magic as well.
11. Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt
End your walk at the pretty Lamarck-Caulaincourt métro station. Enjoy the view, or a coffee break in one of the cafés. Just like the Abbesses station, Lamarck-Caulaincourt is quite deep. After your Montmartre ramble, indulge in the 'luxury'of taking the lift to the platforms instead of walking down 25 metres!
Not tired of Montmartre yet? Already done our Montmartre Walk around the Sacré Coeur Basilica?
For food and drinks to sample more of Montmartre life, head to rue Lepic, rue des Trois-Frères, Rue Berthe, around métro Lamarck Caulaincourt, or any of the many cute, cosy, artsy, hip, hype, or crazy places the Butte has to offer.
For more on Montmartre and other romantic spots for free in Paris, check out our Paris Top Five Romantic Spots!
Loved the Montmartre vineyard? Visit more Parisian vineyards listed in our travel post! Enjoy!