Sitting atop the Butte de Montmartre like a Byzantine meringue, and visible from almost everywhere in Paris, the beautiful 19th-century Sacré Coeur basilica is understandably a tourist magnet.Yet wonder off the beaten track, through the cobbled streets behind and to the west of the monument, and you'll touch upon a more authentic Montmartre, still populated by locals - many of them artists, actors or media types. You should also head below the Butte into the trendifying SoPi (south Pigalle) district (9th), where grand hôtels particuliers, hidden museums and foodie haunts run by young chefs, offer an alternative atmosphere to the Butte - especially around rue des Martyrs, which is lined with quirky shops and cafés.
For our suggestions of the best places to go, follow the list below.
Just one word of warning: on the narrow streets leading up to the Sacré Coeur from Métro Anvers, illegal betting stands (cardboard boxes piled as tables) have taken root on almost every corner, coaxing tourists into loosing their money, while look-outs check that the police are nowhere to be seen. Do not be put off by this; just avoid the area by walking to the basilica from Métro Blanche or Pigalle. If you do find yourself at Anvers Métro, you're quite safe (it's also a good stop for exploring rue des Martyrs), just make-sure you avoid the betting stands.
For more information on the Sacré Coeur, click here.
Around the Sacré Coeur...
Causses, SoPi’s (SouthPigalle) new alimentation general extraordinaire, feels like an urban farm shop, offering a winning formula of simple quality, seasonal, produce (fruit ‘n’ veg, hams and cheeses), gourmet preserves and take-away breads, sandwiches and salads. If you’re into your OJ, there’s a fill your own bottle area next to the orange squeezing machine. You’ll also find an array of interesting seasonings, including smoked salt and ‘sel fou’ (salt mixed with oriental spices and pink peppercorns). For expats in need of a taste of home, Tyrrell’s crisps, Covent Garden soups, HP sauce and quality English biscuits abound. There’s also a tempting array of Italian deli pastas and sauces. If you fancy freeing your inner chef, Causses is affiliated with 'Esprit Cuisine' cooking school, run by Nathaly Nicolas-Ianniello. The principle is easy - you go shopping, then learn how to prepare delicous, wholesome dishes with what you’ve just bought (contact Nathaly by mail: email@example.com).