When a town goes around calling itself the City of Love, you’d expect it to deliver come Valentine’s Day. Luckily for lovebirds around the world, Paris does. I’ve mapped out a love- themed promenade through the quaint and quiet streets of Montmartre to celebrate amour in all its forms. So whether your taking the tour virtually from the comfort or your laptop, or headed out to the streets of Paris this afternoon, tighten up those scarves and get yourself to the intersection of Rue Lepic and Rue des Abbesses, where this walk begins. Allons-y!
To keep things warm and cuddly during your February foray, start at brand new coffee shop La Bossue (9 Rue Joseph de Maistre) for a homemade hot chocolate that’s got the locals talking. They’ll be happy to put one in a to-go cup for you—perhaps not the most Parisian thing you’ll ever do, but hey you’ve got some exploring to do. Head east along Rue des Abbesses.
Don’t pass up Grenier à Pain (38 Rue des Abbesses), the reigning champ of the Best Baguette in Paris contest. For real. Slip in line with the locals and order une baguette, s’il vous plait in the most seductive French you can muster. This warm and crusty loaf will be the perfect carbohydrate companion as you explore the romantic side of Montmartre.
Continue down the street, basking in the awesomeness that is noshing the best bread in the world in the prettiest city in the world. Pause in front of the brick church of Saint-Jean-de- Montmartre (19 Rue des Abbesses). This is the only brick church in Paris and still functions as a place of worship, but with a romantic twist: on certain nights couples can descend into the crypt for tango lessons among the tombs! Contact dance company El Corazón des Abbesses for details.
Just a few steps behind you is the leafy Square Rictus and a fitting spot called the I Love You Wall. Here the amorous phrase is written 311 times in all the world’s major languages. Pay attention–they say whoever finds “I love you” in their native language first has the most love in their heart. A tip for the guys: let her win (but you already knew that).
Further up the same wall, Rita Heyworth says something charming to the couples down below: “To love is messy…so let’s love!”
Exit the park and take a right until Rue Ravignan. Climb it until you reach a small cobblestone square and a building labelled Le Bateau Lavoir. This was the scene of a bohemian love story featuring a then-unknown Spanish guy called Pablo Picasso. He fell in love here for the first time, with a young mademoiselle named Fernande Olivier. But Pablo was too shy to do anything about his crush, so he got creative by adopting the cutest, fluffiest kitten he could find. Each time she walked by he would stand in the doorway of Le Bateau Lavoir, petting the kitty in hopes it would start a conversation. One day it worked, and the two became lovers for many years.
Interestingly, a shift in Picasso’s palette is visible during this time. The sombre blues and blacks of his Blue Period gave way to the hopeful hues of his Rose Period, a transition that some attribute to the arrival of his first true love. Good on you, Fernande.
Take a left onto Rue d’Orchampt and continue until Place Marcel Ayme. Another sort of love story is behind an intriguing sculpture emerging from a wall. The French call him Le Passe- Muraille, a literary character who discovers he has the ability to walk through walls. He falls in love with a married woman whose husband locks her inside her bedroom before going out each night. No problem for our hero, who walks right into her house for romantic trysts while hubby is away. But one night while leaving, he suddenly loses his powers and gets stuck in a wall forever more. You’ll note that the sculpture’s left hand is shiny. That’s because visitors rub it for good luck…though with luck like his, you may want to hold your partner’s hand instead.
Head up Rue Norvins but don’t miss on the left-hand side a tiny park called Jardin Frédéric- Dard. This secret getaway is so discreet it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps, and I love that. It’s perfect for a secluded cuddle and a kiss to break up your walk.
Rue Norvins will lead you to Place du Tertre, an outdoor community of artists that keep the area’s creative spirit alive. Portrait artists, silhouette specialists, and painters of all styles offer a rather romantic reminder of Montmartre’s glory days (at least this time of year before the springtime tourists arrive). The city requires that artists produce original works on site, meaning a purchase here will add an authentic Parisian touch to your love nest back home.
Your last stop is the view from Sacre Coeur, which fittingly means The Sacred Heart. Chances are you won’t be alone in front of it, but the panoramic view from the basilica will bring out anyone’s inner romantic. For an extra dose of amour, look down the hill at the antique carousel. It was featured in the quirky love story of the film Amélie. If you haven’t laid a juicy smooch on your partner by now, it’s time to let it rip. Speaking of love stories our Montmartre one has come to an end. But there’s a big beautiful city down there and plenty of romance to be had—go down there and get your fair share. And if you see a Spaniard with a furry kitten, buy one of his paintings now while the prices are good.
This wonderful guest blog is written by Corey Frye of A French Frye in Paris. Corey is a highly sought-after tour guide and travel writer based in Paris. It all started on a New York subway platform: he was strumming his guitar and singing a tune, she was a young Parisienne waiting for the train…and the rest is serendipitous history. Corey shares his discoveries on his blog A French Frye in Paris, a Facebook page by the same name and on Instagram. Private tours can be booked through his blog or by contacting him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 14, 2016 |