Paris – 18th Arrondissement
As far away from the city-center a place can be and still be in Paris, the 18th arrondissement remains a must-visit for many tourists. The village-like Montmartre district captures the hearts of visitors and locals alike. Head to Espace Dali at 11, rue Poulbot to check out Salvador’s surrealist sculptures; or head to 12, rue Cortot to visit the former home of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Maurice Utrillow, now the Musée de Montmartre, where you can tip your hat to the artists and Bohemians who made this area what it is today.
At the very top of the butte, the white-domed Sacré-Coeur Basilica awaits with pickpockets that will follow you all the way back down the hill to Place Pigalle, where the rotating, blinking red neon windmill of Le Moulin Rouge beckons and 60 Doris Girls kick their long legs to tempt one into afterward visiting the seedier side of Paris, the Red Light District, which bursts at the seams along nearby Boulevard de Clichy. For the less risqué tourists, a visit to Musée de l’Erotisme at 72, Boulevard de Clichy might be in order.
Take the métro to Abbesses, then get off and hike the spiraling, muscle-cramping staircase that is painted by local artists, and if your legs can take it, it’s worth the hike. Almost-the-top of the hill, search for Square Jehan Rictus, where you’ll find a place to rest and the “I Love You” Mural, translated on the wall in over 300 languages. Then elbow your way up to Sacré-Coeur and sit on the steps and ogle the beautiful Paris skyline ahead. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the “Soccer Ball Man” doing incredible stunts for the crowds. For the lazy, stand in line for the Funicular, the little sky tram that zips you right up to the top of the butte with the use of a metro ticket.
Other things to consider doing: Head to rue Lepic to locate the Moulin Radet and the Moulin de la Galette, the two last remaining windmills in the area, and simply marvel at the charming neighborhood while wandering the alleyways. Visit the Montmartre vineyard, and in the fall, take part in the Fête des Vendanges, or annual harvest festival. Stroll through the beautiful Montmartre Cemetery, where famous figures like writer Stendhal and artist Degas were laid to rest.
To the north, Porte de Clignancourt (and the sprawling Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen) is the King of Flea Markets in Paris (open weekends and Monday, from 7-7), and those new to shopping here should start at rue des Rosiers, where the more touristy Marché Vernaisson sells everything from bric-a-brac to the occasional great find; the Marché Serpette lures savvy Parisians; the Le Marché Biron focuses on higher quality finds.
For those searching for French linens, look no further than Marché Cambo; and the Marché Malassis, with its dome set forth to greet the eager shopper; both offer up doodads from the 1900s and other delicious secrets. The newest market, the Marché Dauphine offers up exquisite antiques under a glass roof. The shopping is great here, but it isn’t for the feint of heart.
Lead photo credit : Sacre Coeur by Corey Frye