Montmartre Walk to Sacre Coeur Guided Tour for Groups of 6 Persons
- Montmartre: The "Mountain of the Martyr," named for a 3rd-century saint, is the highest hill in Paris. Climbing upward on winding cobblestone walkways, you’ll discuss this fabled quarter's history as a hotbed of intellectual ferment in the bohemian days of the late 1800s.
- Moulin de la Galette: See the famous windmill that made this neighborhood of cabarets, gas-lit cafes, and boisterous dance halls the center of Paris nightlife, immortalized by artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Renoir.
- Sacre Coeur: The iconic Basilica of the Sacred Heart sits majestically atop Montmartre like a crown. Its unusual Romano-Byzantine architecture is a stark contrast to Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, which can be seen from the basilica's belvedere.
- More than a guide: Even by GoBe standards, your tour leader is special. Known officially as "docents" (from the Latin for teacher) and unofficially – and proudly – as nerds (for their encyclopedic depth of knowledge), they're the difference between seeing Paris and understanding Paris.
- The experience: This small group experience, with never more than 6 travelers on tour, allows the opportunity to build a deeper rapport with your docent.
About This Paris Tour
Radicals and revelers, saints, martyrs, and malcontents. No part of the City of Light has burned with more passion and intensity than Montmartre.
It was here that Paris became "bohemian" – a 19th-century term for unconventional, anti-establishment, creative, and rebellious. With its implications of promiscuity, poverty, and poor personal hygiene, it was not a term of endearment.
Yet Montmartre is also a holy place. At its summit, where Sacre Coeur now stands, St. Denis was beheaded by the Romans in 250 A.D. The future patron saint of Paris then picked up his head and walked six miles downhill, preaching a decidedly unconventional sermon the whole way.
At the nearby Church of St. Pierre, another stop on this tour, St. Ignatius of Loyola took the vows of poverty and chastity that founded the Jesuits in 1534. So unconventional was the "Society of Jesus" that Pope Clement XIV commanded its suppression in 1773. It didn't work, and the decree was reversed in 1814.
Then revolution came to Montmartre. Not the capital-R French original of 1789, but the 1871 uprising that led to a two-month socialist takeover of city government: the "Paris Commune." The army retook Montmartre, the last bastion of revolt, just 18 days after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Sacre Coeur was built on the heights of Paris's most rebellious neighborhood as a kind of penance for these twin calamities – divine punishment for what the bishop called "a century of moral decline."
That didn't work, either. Freethinking, free-loving bohemians quickly moved in, painting, writing, debating, dancing, and debauching in and around Montmartre's cabarets and ginguettes (drinking establishments). The windmill at the Moulin de la Galette recalls those raucous times, when the likes of Renoir, van Gogh, Matisse, Degas, and Picasso kicked artistic convention off the Martyr's Mountain. To this day, painters gather at the Place du Tertre – the public square that is the heart of Montmartre, just a few streets from the basilica named for the Sacred Heart. If you squint your eyes (and listen to your historian docent), you'll be able to paint your own picture of life a century ago in bohemian, profane, sacred Montmartre.
Renoir, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec all lived in Montmartre at the same time. Van Gogh created a series of paintings of the Moulin de la Galette windmill; Renoir's 1876 Dance at le Moulin de la Galette is an Impressionist masterpiece, and one of the best-known depictions of the neighborhood's freewheeling cafe life. For Toulouse-Lautrec, part of that life started out free, but eventually took a heavy cost. His first of many paintings featuring Montmartre prostitutes was inspired by his first of many encounters with them, reportedly paid for by friends. He died of alcoholism and syphilis at the age of 36.
The walk begins and ends in the Montmartre neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number.
This tour is for groups of 6 persons. As in many cities, keep your wallet or purse secured and leave the bling behind.
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your guide will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors.
Plan to stand or walk for the duration of the tour. Visiting Montmartre requires an uphill walk, over cobbled/paved surfaces and up steps. If your mobility is limited, this tour may be too challenging for you. Itinerary is not suitable for wheelchairs.
Walking Tour, Cultural
Ph.D. or MA-level scholar guide
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages. Traveling with children 12 years of age and younger? Tell us their ages and interests during the booking process so we can match you with the best guide. Strollers permitted.
Choose your date and time very carefully. Only a portion of this tour is refundable from the time of booking; within 72 hours of operation, it is fully non-refundable.
100 countries, 915 cities… limitless possibilities
All our tours are offered by expert local guides & operators
Head off the beaten path with our unique tours & activities
You can rely on our team of travel industry experts
Your order is subject to TourTrek's Booking Ticket Agreement, including all TourTrek and GoBe policies incorporated therein.
Have you been on this experience?
Write a Review
Fields marked are required.
Please enter your review.