Get Away: Montmartre, Paris, France
Ah, Paris. The romantic French city is known for many things – art and food chief among them. Montmartre was historically the artists' quarter, with floppy-looking Frenchmen with skinny pants and cigarettes hanging out the corners of their mouths hanging around squares and corners with their easels and paints. Today, Montmartre is a popular tourist destination, even for families, despite the various sex shops that line its streets. Read our review of Sacré Bleu, which takes place in Montmartre.
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For visitors, living like an artist in Montmartre is certainly an option, Hôtel Particulier Montmartre is your best bet. Recommended by several major magazines, this hotel is in the heart of Montmarte, across the street from the steps of the historic Sacre Coeur (the large white church that looms over the neighborhood, whose name means "Sacred Heart").
The hotel is known for its lush surroundings and artistic interiors. With only five suites, the place is a clash of classic design and contemporary art. Various artists contributed to the rooms' decor, while owner Morgane Rousseau provided the things that make it home. At $600 a night, staying at Hôtel Particulier Montmartre is anything but a steal, but it would definitely still be an experience.
If you're serious about sweets, and about visiting Paris the right way, repeat after me: When in Paris, do as David Lebovitz does. The popular chef, cookbook author and blogger is known for his love of the city and his delectable food photography (of which you can see plenty on his blog and on Instagram). He is also beloved for writing posts with such detail and care that readers pine for Paris – whether they've been there or not. As such, I defer to Mr. Lebovitz's opinion when it comes to where to eat in Montmartre.
Surprisingly, one of the restaurants Mr. Lebovitz highly recommends in Montmartre is of the Australian variety. This Australian coffee shop seems to have really captured his heart. "I’m still anxious to get back to Australia some day," he writes, "but Kooka Boora has upped the game in Paris and it’s no longer a twenty-three hour flight to get a flat white…which I just might go back and get later this (early) afternoon."
I was lucky to visit Montmarte on a family trip to Paris in 2006, and the sharpest memory from that time came from climbing the steps to Sacre Coeur. It was March, cold and rainy, and I was wearing moccasins – because apparently that's the right footwear for a walking trip – and there were so many steps, it felt like I would reach the sky by the time we got to the church. Since I had not yet seen Amélie, it was a climb peppered with choice words rather than romantic peek-a-boos, but the view from the top silenced all complaints.
When you stand at the entrance to Sacre Coeur, all of Paris is at your feet. From there, you can see houses, office buildings, museums, l'Opera and, yes, the Eiffel Tower. Though the climb is tough, especially on a bad weather day, the reward for making it is immeasurable.
Your turn: Have you been to Montmartre? Leave some travel recommendations in the comments!