This might just be my favorite part of Paris…
Situated in the shadow of Sacré Cœur, the land of Amélie Poulain, Montmartre and South Pigalle are charming in an old-timie sort of way. Think vintage Paris. The original red-light district, historically this area hasn’t been the classiest and there definitely are still some rather vulgar pockets. But behind those lie some of Paris’ most perfect gems: open markets with the freshest, most delectable produce, meats & fish around; café-lined streets and independent boutiques where you can actually afford to buy a thing or two. And some of Paris’s best restaurants lie nestled in this quaint yet somewhat steep hillside.
It also has been the home to and inspiration for artists over the centuries, and continues in this vain. The streets ooze artistic expression from current day painters selling their masterpieces propped up on easels to the street art graffitied on the sides of staircases and buildings.
Montmartre and South Pigalle should not be missed on any Paris trip!
Forget the Eiffel Tower! In my mind a trip to Paris is not complete without seeing this heavenly structure that perches atop Paris looking down and watching over her like a guardian angel. She still takes my breath away every time, all white and glorious. And if her beauty doesn’t have that same effect on you, than the stairs to reach her certainly will! Thankfully there’s an elevator that will shuttle you up to one of Paris’ most spectacular views for just the cost of a metro ticket. Either way, Sacre Cœur is a Paris MUST.
- Rue des Martyrs which begins in South Pigalle and curves into Rue des Abbesses up in Montmartre. It’s one of my favorite routes in all of Paris with great cafes and amazing shops lining its pavements.
- Rue Dancourt which turns into Rue des Trois Frères is also quite lovely with many amazing off-shoots to explore:
- Boulevard de Clichy is pretty much where all your sex-shops and strip clubs lie. The closer you get to this main thoroughfare the less picturesque your experience will be.
- Rue Seveste, Briquet, and Rue de Steinkerque are the ultimate tourist traps, capitalizing on the picture-perfect view of the Basilica–worth seeing but not staying.
- Rue de Clignancourt and the area west of Sacre Cœur is a bit sketch. I wouldn’t recommend booking a hotel in any of the areas mentioned above.
Hotel Sacha: A HappyCulture Hotel
Tucked just off the busy Rue des Martyrs lies this picture perfect hotel. Part of the HappyCulture hotel group (they have 21 distinct hotels scattered all over Paris), each hotel offers a unique experience catered to the neighborhood it calls home. Hotel Sacha, set in the Opera District takes its cue from the opulent Opera Garnier, similarly dressed in red-velvet and glimmering gold.
Hotel Sacha’s location couldn’t be more ideal, with some of the best shops and restaurants just steps from its door–bustling during the days, yet quiet at night. The hotel has a boutique feel, impeccably decorated, and though the rooms are small (this is Paris after all) they are stylish and comfortable with luxurious linens and everything you could ever want to make your stay in Paris absolutely perfect.
The perk of staying in a HappyCulture hotel is that not only do they have free wifi, a Nepresso Machine in the lobby for mid-morning fuel-ups, and a complimentary HappyTime (a.k.a. Happy Hour), but as a HappyCulture guest you can partake of these benefits at any HappyCulture hotel! They indeed understand the concept of happiness and hospitality!
The sit-down establishment in the Rose-trifecta of yumminess in the South Pigalle area, (they have three separate storefronts: a cafe, take-away and market within a stones-throw of each other) Rose Bakery is definitely a must, especially if you’re traveling with ladies. Daintily decorated and with a menu to match, the food is fresh, local and delightful. A Rose Latte is in order if you’ve ever wondered what that fragrant flower tastes like, and good luck trying to pick from all the gorgeous pastries! It’s the perfect brunch spot when exploring in this area.
If you’re walking up Rue des Abbesses the pot of gold that awaits you at the end (or beginning?) of this perfect street is this sweet little cafe, La Bossue. With white marble table tops and velvet teal-tufted bench seats the atmosphere is supremely cosy. A perfect hideaway after a day of walking and shopping. And the food is amazing! They have a delicious lunch formula that usually involves a salad, a quiche of some sort, and a bowl of soup, all for the price of a cocktail! If your sweet-tooth’s calling their selection of tea cakes, madeleines and financiers are hard to resist. A weekend brunch you fancy? Their buffet-style service looks legendary from the drool-inducing photos. You’ll probably want to make reservations for this.
When an American woman opens a french restaurant in Paris, serving dishes that constitute the heart, soul and tradition of a nation, you know that she’s either got to be really good or really gutsy. In this case Jody Williams is both. Opening the Parisian outpost of her West Village, NYC hit Buvette Grastrothéque in 2013, it’s had a consistent and local following ever since. Now that says something.
And grabbing one of the few seats in this tiny, traditionally-clad purveyor of Parisian perfection, you know you’ve scored big time. With the menu consisting of smaller plates divided between tartines (toasts), vegetables, fish and meats you get to sample a little bit of it all, and believe me you’ll want to. The wine list is amazing as is the chocolate mousse. Just order it. You’ll thank me later…
For those who decide against climbing the stairway to paradise (a.k.a. to Sacre-Cœur), there awaits another type of heaven a block’s walk westward along Rue d’Orsel. There you’ll stumble upon a perfectly delicious little spot called Gloria right off the Place du Théätre d’Atelier. Inside this small restaurant you’ll find trailing plants amongst wine-ladden shelves, local artist’s work hung on the walls, and a beautiful tile floor beneath your feet. But the true glory this place exudes is on your plate. You’ll find an inventive menu of small plates with a few mains, all with a slight Brazilian flair. The quality of the food is top-notch and the prices are oh-so-reasonable. They’ll choose a wine for you depending on what you order and glasses range from €4-7. But the dessert… Their chocolate fondant cake is the best I’ve ever had. Ever. You really can’t go wrong with Gloria, though you might want to make a reservation… This place is always busy.
I discovered Ma Biche on a frigid January eve, when group of us were wandering aimlessly through Montmartre in search of sustenance and shelter. As we stumbled down a side street something caught my eye: a black-and-white silent film projected on a building façade. When I saw it was coming from the restaurant opposite, I knew one day I’d eat there. That “one day” came a couple months later. And then again a couple weeks after that. Needless to say this place is addictive.
The decor is darling and oh-so quirky-what you’d expect from a restaurant that has a film showing every eve. But the food and the wine are the real showstoppers. They only serve three reds by the glass but they’re literally the best wines I’ve ever tasted. Not exaggerating. And the burger!!! A menu staple, the ingredients vary slightly from week to week, but this mountain of beef, bacon, brie, chutney & fried egg blow all other burgers out of the water. If red meat’s not your thing then they have a whole fish that they serve flambé, or a rotating duck dish that is also delish. Whatever you choose… just make sure you choose Ma Biche! You won’t regret it. I promise.
Enjoy exploring one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris. There are so many other place’s I’d love to mention but this post can only be so long… If you would like any other recommendations just shoot me a message.