A block down the Montmartre hill from the cute place in Paris we had booked was a little bakery. Every morning the owner was ready with a delightful assortment of goods. Buttery fluffy croissants, some of them chocolate-filled, quiches with mushroom and cheese and meat, fresh baguettes and lovely fruity tarts called out from the tiny window. This bakery was our first stop as we stepped out of the warmth of the house into the shades cast by the tall houses on either side of the Rue Lepic.
Montmartre hill in Paris was the centre of the artistic scene in the last century with artists and writers living on what was then part village. Right opposite our bed and breakfast was a well preserved wind-mill, now part of a private property. A couple of houses downhill was the house when Van Gogh worked. As we took one of the small cobbled streets during a long morning walk, we passed by posters describing the life of this passionate artist, who was keen on continuously developing an improving his personal style, and so keen to have experiences that would refine that style. On top of the hill, close to the Sacre Couer, were the gardens dedicated to Renoir (he had lived and painted here). Nearby is the museum de Montmartre, which houses paintings by most of the painters that have lived and worked in the area.
The most famous place in Montmartre is of course at the bottom of the hill, near the Anvers station – The Moulin Rouge, with a red windmill at its entrance. Home of the cabaret and the French Can-Can the Moulin Rouge is the perfect place for an extravagant night out.
In the midst of all this hectic activity though the Hill still manages to have pockets of silence and quiet. Beyond the crowds that gather to watch the sunset from the Sacre Couer, away from the main stations of Anvers, Blanche and Barbes Rochecourt, are the small gardens and bylanes that criss-cross the hill. These tranquil spots are the places where artists, rich with muses from the interesting life around them, sat and painted.
Sit at one of the outdoor cafes in Montmartre, order a coffee and croissant, and watch the Bohemian Parisian life unfold before you.. there is no better place.