Picturesque Montmartre

Impressions of Montmartre 12

A guest post by Cathy Sweeney, a recent visitor to Montmartre

"Cathy Sweeney at wine bar"

First impressions of a place can be disappointing if they don’t match our preconceived notions. My expectations of Montmartre were like the colors, moods and charm of impressionist paintings brought to life, plus scenes from movies filmed there and a dash of 21st century reality. Happily, I was not disappointed

Van Gogh's painting of view from rue Lepic flat

Van Gogh painted the view from his brother Leo's flat in Rue Lepic in Montmartre

It’s easy to understand why Montmartre inspired artists like Renoir and Van Gogh to paint their perspectives of the rooftops, windmills, and cafés. Winding my way through the maze of cobblestone streets and climbing the long staircases, the dome of Sacré-Coeur Basilica, a frequent art subject of Utrillo and many since, dramatically appeared above the older, picturesque buildings below.

"Panoramic view of Paris from Montmartre"

Panoramic view of Paris from Montmartre

Even on this overcast December day, the panoramic views of Paris from the terrace of Sacré-Coeur were captivating. As I passed apartments, colorful shops, and romantic cafés, they gave me a sense of being in old Paris.

"Eiffel Tower seen from Montmartre"

Eiffel Tower seen over the roofs of Montmartre

Although Montmartre is a year-round tourist destination, it was far less crowded during my visit than what would be expected in peak travel seasons. In fact, Le Petit Train de Montmartre (the Little Train) that carries passengers on a tour through the area had only a few sightseers on board as it passed.

"Artists at the Place de Tertre in Montmartre Paris"

Artists at the Place de Tertre in Montmartre

At the Place du Tertre (Artists’ Square) tourists surrounded the artists painting portraits and selling their work, but I could still imagine the square of old when renowned painters gathered there to create some of their famous works.

"Cafe des 2 Moulins Paris"

All the scenes with Amelie in the movie were shot here

Montmartre is well-known as a popular film set and I enjoyed seeing familiar sights from movies, old and new. Peering in the windows of Café des 2 Moulins, it looked just the same as in the movie, Amélie, except that the cigarette counter is no longer there. Since Amélie is one of my favorite French movies, it was a real treat to see the café and other film locations such as the Boucherie des Gourmets and Les Petits Mitrons.

"Cine 13 in Ave. Junot Montmartre"

Claude Lelouch's Cine 13 Ave. Junot

I was also pleased to learn that renowned director, Claude Lelouch, lives in the area and runs a small cinema as a hobby. This was of special interest to me because my first impressions of a hot French romance were probably derived from his movie, A Man and a Woman.

"La Passe Muraille statue"

Marcel Ayme's work represented by a statue in Montmartre

Then there is the unexpected about Montmartre, such as the sculpture that depicts a man’s head, arms and one leg protruding from a stone wall. It’s based on author Marcel Aymé’s story, Le Passe-Muraille (The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls).  I was also surprised to see on a hillside the only remaining working vineyard in Paris, Clos Montmartre. Its grapes are auctioned at Fêtes des Vendanges, the annual harvest festival.

"Vineyard of Montmartre"

Vineyard of Montmartre ready for the Vendange

My afternoon in Montmartre ended at the Abbesses Metro Station, considered one of the most beautiful stations in Paris with its art nouveau glass canopy. On the walls of the stairway going deep underground is graffiti, much of it quite beautiful. To me, this artwork seems a tribute to the artists of the past who were first inspired by Montmartre and to those who keep the creative spirit alive today.

"Metro Abbesses station in Montmartre"

Metro Abbesses station in Montmartre

Cathy Sweeney is an internet entrepreneur and investor who shares her perspectives, experiences and ideas reflecting a lifelong passion for travel (Follow her blog Traveling with Sweeney). She hopes to inspire people to consider new destinations, learn something different about a familiar place, or reminisce about their own travel experiences. She has traveled extensively in North America, the Caribbean and Europe, eagerly looking forward to more traveling throughout the world. A Chicago native, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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12 thoughts on “Impressions of Montmartre

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Picturesque Montmartre | Memorable Movies And Montmartre --

  2. Reply inka Feb 8,2011 5:36 pm

    Very perceptive tour of Montmartre, but then, that’s Cathy for you.

  3. Reply Matt Hope Feb 8,2011 6:35 pm

    I love pictures of people painting pictures, haha. Definitely looks like an interesting place to visit!

  4. Reply John in France Feb 9,2011 12:27 am

    A nice little walk through Montmartre thanks! My daughter Sarah recently shot part of a film at the entrance to the Abbesses metro – but very difficult with metro travellers exiting the station every minute!! She even had one lady climb under the barriers and sit herself down on the film set next to the lead actor – and she wouldn’t move!!!

  5. Reply Adam Feb 9,2011 5:20 pm

    Looks like a great place to visit. I’ll have to bookmark it in case our France trip comes to fruition this fall. Great descriptions of your time there; you didn’t even need any of the pictures (though they certainly don’t hurt!).

  6. Reply Jozef Maxted Feb 9,2011 8:58 pm

    I’ve only ever been to Paris once for a day, but from what I did see of it it is a great city! Your pictures back this up perfectly!I would defintiley like to get back there to check it out more.

  7. Reply Talon (1Dad1Kid) Feb 10,2011 2:28 am

    LOVE Montmartre. We’ll be living there for a month when we go to Paris this summer. It has such an amazing feel to it.

  8. Reply Andrea Feb 10,2011 3:05 am

    My favourite arrondissement … You’ve captured some of my best memories

  9. Reply Michael Figueiredo Feb 10,2011 6:53 am

    I haven’t been to Montmartre in years, but it still remains fresh in my memory. To me it’s the most beautiful part of Paris. (Amelie is one of my favorite movies too!)

  10. Reply Amy Feb 10,2011 4:19 pm

    Beautiful post! Montmartre is my favorite area of Paris. This post makes me long to go back!

  11. Reply Christy @ Ordinary Traveler Feb 12,2011 3:26 am

    Great post, Cathy! You have brought back great memories of my time in Paris. Love the photos too!

  12. Reply Yvonne @JustTravelous Feb 12,2011 8:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I love Montmartre! Had one of my fav travel moments there, sitting on the stairs of Sacré-Cœur, watching sunset over Paris and listening to a guy playing “Imagine” on his guitar…

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