Moulin Rouge, Pigalle, and Sacré Coeur Cathedral perched on a hill, welcome to the 18eme arrondissement. As neighborhoods in Paris go, the 18th has always had a village feel, giving it a charm all its own.
And that reputation was only enhanced during la Belle Epoque when it became heavily frequented by the artists from Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas, etc.
From major tourist attractions to hidden gems, there is a lot to explore in this area.
However, certain metro stops in this area have a “reputation” for a lot of pickpockets and loiterers. Be wary and aware when walking around at night around the metro stops of Chateau Rouge, Barbès – Rochechouart, La Chapelle and Gare du Nord.
So let’s see what there is to do in the 18th arrondissement, shall we? Allons-y!
What to see: Top Attractions
Pigalle and Montmartre
As soon as you get off the metro at Pigalle, you will notice a narrow street heading uphill lined with souvenir shops. Walk past the cheesy souvenir shops, and head up the hill for a wonderful view of all of Paris from Montmartre.
Montmartre is where the classic film Amélie Poulin was filmed and its iconic cobblestone streets will carry you past a ton of vintage and ethnic stores.
Excavations have shown a settlement existed here since the Gallo-Roman days. The name comes from the legend of Saint Denis, who was beheaded by the Romans, and then supposedly carried his own head up the hill before he died. The name became “‘Mont des Martyrs” or “mountain of martys”, and then Montmartre.
Note: This area is very hilly, so if you have trouble climbing and walking up stairs, you may want to book a hotel in a different arrondissement of Paris.
La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
Consecrated in 1919, Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at top of a hill called butte Montmartre, and is the highest point in the city (except for the Eiffel tower). It was built as a penance for the local riots and troubles that happened during the Paris Commune of 1871 right here in Montmartre.
The Basilica is free to enter and certainly quite impressive to explore. However, it is in coming back out of the Basilica, that you notice the views. Have a sit on the stairs of Sacre Coeur Cathedral and admire the panorama of the whole city.
The best views are at sunset from this northern point of the city. Avoid the street vendors and tricksters that hang around there though. Their modus operandi is to distract excited tourists and pickpocket them.
Place du Tertre
Right next to the bottom of the stairs at Sacre Coeur, you will notice a series of small streets leading into the heart of Montmartre. Head to Place du Tertre to watch the painters and the caricaturists do their thing.
There are plenty of bistros and restaurants with terrasses around the square so sip a glass of wine as you take in the views.
The world-famous Moulin Rouge is cabaret dating back to 1889. The original house burnt down and was replaced in 1915. It is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.
This high energy dance was first created by the courtesans to “flash” their gentlemen suiters. You can buy tickets to a Moulin Rouge cabaret here.
Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen (Paris flea market)
Located just on the border of the 18th arrondissement is one of the biggest antique markets in Paris.
Marché aux Puces literally translates to “flea market”, and in the neighborhood of Saint Ouen you have the biggest one in Paris. With over 2000 little shops and stands of mainly antiques and artwork, this is market is one of the most popular in Paris.
The market dates back to 1885 and is on the border of Paris, because at the time the government décret did not allow the merchants to set up shop within the city limits.
From tables to armchairs, chandelier lighting to old books and jewellery, all with that certain French je ne sais quoi, you will wish you had brought more luggage. (Not to worry, the Paris flea market has those as well.) There are also sometimes clothes, sneakers and garage sale items, but of rather questionable quality.
There are 5 main markets to explore:
- Marché Biron – antique furniture, paintings, tapestries, mirrors, etc.
- Marché Dauphine – classic knickknacks, old books, vintage photos and records.
- Marché Jules Vallès – postcards, posters, gadgets, old weapons, etc.
- Marché Vernaison – old furniture, toys, lamps, and glassware.
- Marché Malik – vintage clothes and accessories
It is estimated that the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen attracts 5 million shoppers per year.
What to eat: Restaurants, Brasseries, and Bistros
The 18th arrondissement has no shortage of restaurants, with quite a variety. Some local favorites are:
- Seb’on – elegant seasonal plates at 62 Rue d’Orsel, 75018 Paris
- Le Bouclard – classic French at 1 Rue Cavallotti, 75018 Paris
- L’Arcane – French fare at 52 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris
You can find more ideas and ways of spending an evening in Paris here.
Bars and Nightlife
The quartier of Pigalle may be best known for the Moulin Rouge but there is quite a bit of other nightlife in this area of Paris as well.
Bars and Pubs
- Terrasse bar in Montmartre – high-end restaurant and bar with amazing views at 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre, 75018 Paris
- Marlusse et lapin – creative cocktails at 14 Rue Germain Pilon, 75018 Paris
- Chez Camille – casual neighborhood bar at 8 Rue Ravignan, 75018 Paris
- La Machine du Moulin Rouge – large concert hall and nightclub at 90 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris
- Magnum Club – near Moulin Rouge at 2 Rue Puget, 75018 Paris
You can find more bars and nightlife options around Paris here.
Where to stay: Hotels and other accommodation
Montmartre and the 18eme arrondissement is one that attracts a lot of tourists because of its budget friendly hotels, and since there are several metro stations around the area that make it very convenient to get around.
I should note however, that in Europe when a hotel is rated as 3-star, it is not the same as a 3-star rating in North America. Things like air-conditioning that are the norm in other countries, will not be the norm here, so choose carefully when picking a hotel. Some recommended hotels are:
You can find more accommodation options for the 18th arrondissement here.