Want to experience a romantic, bohemian and alternative Paris? Montmartre and Pigalle in the 18e arrondissement are for you.
To be honest, the very first time I was in Paris I also resided in the 18th which made me think that Paris is quite wild, careless, dodgy at night and definitely more smelly than Bordeaux. Now that I live on the edge of the 5th and my school is also in the neighbouring 6th, I haven’t been back to the 18th for a while and I forgot that Paris is actually very versatile. When the 5th and 6th are relatively clean, kind of vain and have an expensive upper-middle class feel to it then Montmartre is visibly more messy, has always been loved by artists (even though due to high rent prices not too much anymore) and Pigalle has quite honestly a reputation for being a sleazy neighbourhood with all its brothels and sex shops.
Montmartre is located on the highest hill in Paris. It has dreamy stairwells, old squeaky houses, famous cafes and shops and of course, tourists favourite, Sacré-Cœur Basilica. A little odd but this church isn’t actually even particularly old. Built in the end of 19th century it symbolised both the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, the socialist Paris commune and also the conservative catholic church in one of the most liberal and rebellious part of Paris. It is truly beautiful and even though the climb up the hill made me a bit dizzy (I know, I am weak), it’s worth of seeing. The church itself is free but I suggest for you to pay extra 5€ to climb the church towers because the view from there is insanely beautiful.
After visiting the basilica it is better to throw away the maps and wander around the area purposeless. That’s the best way to stumble upon cool places like the Wall of Love where the words “I love you” have been written in more than 250 languages. It even had the Estonian words for it.
And what would be a better way to wander around the area than to have a sorbet flower in your hand. Or when your feet are getting tired from all the walking then maybe it’s even better to just stop for a bit an enjoy some lovely lunch. I am telling you, it is impossible to watch what you eat in Paris if you want to enjoy your life in Paris. Luckily the Parisians use real and fresh ingredients and walk a lot, which means that they stay in relatively good shape.
L’Eclair de Genie
L’Eclair de Genie
Walking down the hill you will soon make it to the Pigalle neighbourhood. Believe me, you will notice soon enough, that something is different. Almost all the shops by the road are erotic shops and strip clubs. I was wondering how they manage to make money on it because the competition on that street is truly intense. Of course this area also had the famous Moulin Rouge in front of what the American tourists love to take photos. Even though this area was interesting to visit, I’m not sure I would like to walk around there alone at night.
And last but not least – take the narrow and more quiet streets and you will find the weirdest and funnest thrift shops and antique shops. I was browsing some serious amount of fur with Freddy Mercury playing in the background and also some creepy decorative stuffed parrots and piles of mannequin hands. So freaky but very interesting. Montmartre and Pigalle are definitely one of the most fascinating areas in Paris.
Until next time,