Montmartre - Pigalle

Montmartre and Pigalle are two popular, genuine neighbourhoods in Northern Paris, sharing borders with Saint Ouen - close suburbs that hold the famous Flea Martkets. Montmartre offers relaxing, tourist attractions like the Sacre Coeur when Pigalle is more famous for its entertaining nightlife with the sought-after Moulin Rouge and other cabaret, music halls and clubs.

Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur

Montmartre is a village-like district that has been a favourite of both French people and foreign tourists for a long time now. Most of the streets in Montmartre remain cobbled, which adds character and charm to this romantic and poetic Parisian neighbourhood. The origins of Montmartre date back to the early 19th century, when the less fortunate people had to develop their own neighbourhood in the outskirts of Paris. That is how the peaceful surroundings of the Butte Montmartre (Montmartre hill), abunding with small cemeteries, hidden gardens, narrow streets and impressive stairways, became a popular village. It is no surprise then that countless celebrities and artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Dali rapidly settled in Montmartre, enjoying those quaint, residential streets with hustling Paris just a few miles away. The Place du Tertre - or des Tertres - is today the liveliest square of the 18th arrondissement, reminding that Montmartre has always been a mecca of Art and Conviviality. This lovely place located a quick march away from the Sacre Coeur Basilica indeed holds plenty of street painters, bars and cafés. The only one thing that may keep you from going up there for a drink is the crowd! Especially at sunny weekends, tourists usually flock to Montmartre and Place du Tertre, thus we recommend you go and rest there in the morning or during the week. Anyway, if the Place du Tertre is overcrowded, do head for the well-known Sacré Coeur, beautiful Roman Catholic basilica erected on the Butte Montmartre, from which you can catch a wonderful view of the whole City of Light. Its 83-metre tower is besides worldwide famous for the majestic white dome on its top.

Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge

Just a few steps away from the quiet, quaint Montmartre, it is surprising to see how high feelings are running on the major Boulevard de Clichy! Pigalle, featuring the really well-known Moulin Rouge, is indeed one of the best evidence of Paris being the "City of Lights"! When it was created in 1889, the Moulin Rouge (looking like a "red mill") was said to become "a temple of music and dance". This landmark in terms of French Culture was at that time Parisian men's favourite place to admire - and seduce - the wonderful French CanCan dancers. Many anecdotes confirmed the liberal morals of both customers and staff of this music hall, but such legends and hearsay eventually gave the place its worldwide reputation. One of the managers of that entertaining yet libertine Pigalle club was none other than the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who would paint a great number of the Moulin Rouge scenes and shows. Those authentic posters are actually sought-after now, reminding all the lifestyle and atmosphere in Pigalle at the beginning of the 20th century.

Pigalle's neighbourhood is indeed today widely renowned and appreciated for the music halls, nightclubs, theatres and cabarets it has on offer. A great destination to make the most of Paris' nightlife! To get more information about What to Do and How to Travel in the French capital, you can visit our Paris Breaks page.

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