Montmartre, with its ooh-aaah skyline from its culminating point of 130.53 metres, steep stairs, crooked buildings, ornate facades and curving intimate cobbled stone alleys, is another of my fave cosmopolitan neighborhoods to catch the Paris vibe.
Beyond the fabric hunting, an occasional exhibit at the Espace Dali, the vineyards, windmill or Passe Muraille, soul soothing at Le Sacré Coeur, getting a portrait with your first love drawn at Place du Tertre, an evening of bubbly and French cancan at Le Moulin Rouge or other cabaret…, reasons to (re)visit this artsy village-like quarter of Paris abound.
A late Saturday lunch followed by an afternoon stroll when the area is abuzz is ideal. Here are a few stops and experiences that keep us coming back.
- The seventh floor of Terrass Hotel – Paris, 75018. I love this spot when in the mood for a refreshment in a quaint atmosphere (30 seated maximum) with a grass rug that makes you wish you could kick off your shoes, wide arm chairs, parasols, friendly service and hints of an urban garden. No reservations are available and sunset is très demandé, so word of advice: anticipate. Across the street is a small boutique called Tombés du Camion when in the mood for vintage toys, plastic jewelry, lead letters or hundreds of other quirky things.
- Gontran Charrier. Beyond his handsome looks, this Frenchie with his retro-pop boulangerie-pâtisserie brings new flare to the traditional baguette or croissant made in France. This is a place to try original breads and sweets, where sour, crunchy, sweet, spicy and artsy curiously mix.
- Arnaud Lahrer. While you are on this street, walk a few steps north bypassing the crêmerie Par Ici les Fromages at number 47 (a stop for cheese lovers) to indulge your sweet tooth at Arnaud Lahrer, meilleur ouvrier de France. This talented and aesthetic French maître pâtissier and chocolatier apparently conquered japanese pallets before settling in Paris. I recommend you let your inspiration guide you as each of our indulgences has been a success, including his guimauves. 53, rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris.
- Marcel. Not only is this neighborhood spot run by a Parisienne who lived in Los Angeles and is fond of the USofA (naturellement, a place after my own heart), it is also a must for its burger and eggs Benedict, among our faves on the menu. Plus the decor and the service are all on par. We went when I was 9 months pregnant and I was in a mood for a cheeseburger. Though there was no such dee-light on the menu, Alex asked the Chef to prepare one for me. And the minute I combined it with a sip of the house iced tea, I felt like I was at home. Bravo. Note: you can also shop here for Marmite, Hellman’s mayo or Heinz baked beans! 1, villa Léandre. 75018 Paris.
- Estelle Lemaitre: as we strolled towards the rue des Abbesses, we stumbled upon this cozy lighting shop – an invitation to dream up a whimsical interior for your home or country cottage. Unique lampshades (custom designs are just one of her talents), finials, frames, vintage objects, jewelry. A place where it feels good to take your time and enjoy a chat with your hostess. 69, rue Lepic. 75018 Paris.
- 1962. I have a soft spot for the 50-60’s when it comes to home design, cars, colors, fashion, accessories… This is a place to be surprised, where every detail has its place. A boutique to discover young European designers or to shop for that little something that was missing. 4, rue Tholozé, 75018 Paris.
- Caves des Abbesses. This hole in the wall “bar à vin” is a no-fuss place for wine aficionados to discover independent wine producers over a toast of foie gras, slice of saucisson, plate of cheese or of oysters. Venture to the back of the shop where tables and chairs await and lend an ear to the locals’ latest tales. 43, rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris.
- Ets Lion: this old-timer épicerie that feels like you’re walking in to a country convenience store has seduced gourmands since 1895, and it’s not surprising. Within seconds you’ll get a sudden itch to cook, garden, read, decorate or indulge right on the spot in fruits confits or bygone pops. 7, rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris. A few doors down, pop in to La Petite Mendigote (1, rue des Abbesses) which has cute girls’ accessories and jewelry, making a stop at Kusmi Tea on the way.
- Mademoiselle Bambû: shopping with a green and eco conscience always seems to feel good. And this is a place to do just that. Discover local or lesser known labels, and unique creations by designers with a big heart. 19, rue La Vieuville, 75018 Paris.
If you’re more the hype type and not easily dissuaded from designer labels, the concept store Spree (16, rue la Vieuville) and its gallery Papiers Peints across the street are a stone’s throw away and places to mingle with “have I seen you somewhere” faces wearing dark shades mid-day.
A limited number of labels such as A.P.C are shyly nudging their way in this direction. Across the street, Ysasu is an old-timer that has grown from a multi-brand boutique to being a label of its own, including a new line of shoes (another soft spot of mine) launched in Spring 2012. 19, rue André del Sarte. 75018, Paris.
Enough of the shops or strutting in the footsteps of Midnight in Paris or Amélie Poulain? Take along a golf club – in Montmarte, everything is possible! I’ve always thought the French to be imaginative. This instant made me smirk with delight. Bon voyage!
Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.