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An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

San Diego...
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An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

So...I am going to be in Paris for my first time for 3 days at the end of June/beginning of July. I am looking at places on AirBnB, and I need some advice. I want to get the feel of the life of a Parisian...I have narrowed down my choices to Montmartre or Ménilmontant/Bastille areas. I may do a quick trip to the Louvre, but I want to soak in normal life in a cool part of Paris. Cool to me means good food--funky markets, acoustic/indie music, art and some nice parks/views. I am not looking for anything posh--just a neighborhood that is on the bohemian side, but is in a safe part of town.

I have 2 places I must see while in Paris: Louveciennes (I know I have to take the train/metro?) and Pére Lachaise. I will most likely get to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but other than that, I want to wander...what neighborhood do your recommend? I am a 42-year-old woman traveling on my own, but I am not looking for the tourist route...I want to see it through the eyes of a Parisian who appreciates good music and interesting people.

Suggestions? Tips?

Thanks for your time.

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1. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Ménilmontant would be the place to stay off the tourist route. It is one of the last areas of "old Paris" not yet transformed much by gentrification.

los angeles
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2. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Plus, it would be a great area from which to begin a walk to Pere Lachaise.

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3. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Kerouac,

Most of my friends suggest Montmartre...but I will be on my own. I'm a little intimidated with all the talk of pickpocketing and comments about it not being what it used to be. I know it's all a matter of perception, but I do want to ensure a modicum of security. Is there a better part of Montmartre? I was looking at a place that was very close to the steps of the Sacré Coeur. Is this a decent place to stay?

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4. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Most of your friends may be suggesting Montmartre because they are not familiar with Menilmontant. I feel like everything that you describe in the first paragraph of your post is to be found in Menilmontant and in the 11th with the 11th being a bit more gentrified. I have spent many days in Menilmontant and I think that pickpockets are less of a concern there because pickpockets tend to go where tourists go (like around Sacre Couer).

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5. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

<< I was looking at a place that was very close to the steps of the Sacré Coeur.>>

This would be the exact opposite of not being near the tourist route.

I'm into indie/alternative music and Ménilmontant is the place for that. The area is a bit rough around the edges but it's safe and has enough of a bohemian crowd and its own charm to make it hip as well. Very few tourists, if you see them at all. République and Bastille would be similar areas, though you'll see some tourists but not many. I've got some recommendations I could give about bars in the area you can search for cool music.

How cool you'll go to Louveciennes. I think my wife and I are the only other people on this forum who've been there. Lovely little place. I'd encourage you to also visit the adjacent town of Marly-le-Roi. I've actually written a photo report about visiting these two places as well as Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Rueil-Malmaison and Bougival. You'll get some good info about these places in my report, including links to the local tourist office websites which have downloadable brochures about themed walks you can do in the area (i.e. the Impressionist artists trail etc.). Here is the link to my report: http://tinyurl.com/2fa3qsf

Edited: 04 March 2014, 10:30
Paris, France
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6. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Here's another vote for the 11th - the neighborhood around boulevard Voltaire, heading towards Pere Lachaise is full of interesting places. Two great outdoor markets in the area - Marche Aligre, and the Sun/Thurs Marche Bastille.

I like Montmartre, but would not suggest staying there unless you had more time to spend in Paris.

Edited: 04 March 2014, 10:57
Val-de-Marne, France
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7. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Here is my facebook photo album of Louveciennes and Marly-le-Roi (the first 43 pictures are of Louveciennes): http://tinyurl.com/npw8k6a

To get there you need to take a suburban train from Gare St-Lazare (or La Défense, depending on what works best with your métro transfers). It is half an hour from Gare Saint-Lazare and the train station is simply called Louveciennes if you want to locate it on a map: www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php…

It will be a big contrast to bohemian Ménilmontant, you will be in the very posh royal suburbs.

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8. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

I just returned from Montemarte which was absolutely wonderful.

I'm not suggesting you stay there instead-- but I want to impress that 98% of Montemarte is the opposite of the sacre coer steps area.

Away from the front of the sacre coer the rest of montemarte was very non-touristy, safe and charming.

We went to restaurants with no menus in English , where we were the only tourists. No grand boulevards (other than on the perimeter ). Little cobblestone streets winding round and round on hills. Very authentic and not posh at all.

A real neighborhood with people shopping for their groceries and hardware stores and living life.

We got the feeling while in montemarte that it is still a separate village away from Paris. As we sat in cafes the locals would stop and talk to other locals. People knew the waiters, the other patrons and the passers-by.

In addition to the people living there we found bars and restaurants that were filled with young (20s) hip looking people that I got the feeling were from other parts of Paris

We went to a cave jazz bar which was filled with mostly or all French speakers. There too, people seemed to know each other and the waiters.

We only went to the sacre coer for about 15 minutes and couldn't wait to escape back into montemarte I can see why a day tripper who doesn't see the rest of mm would not like that area. But it is a tiny spot and easy to avoid.

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9. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

Even "real" Ménilmontant in the 20th arrondissement is excellent. It's a multicultural mix, just like Belleville. Some day it will be crawling with tourists as well, but luckily that day has not yet arrived.

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10. Re: An American in Paris: Montmartre or Ménilmontant

I just returned from Montemarte which was absolutely wonderful.

I'm not suggesting you stay there instead-- but I want to impress that 98% of Montemarte is the opposite of the sacre coer steps

The rest of montemarte was very non-touristy, safe and charming.

We went to restaurants with no menus in English , where we were the only tourists. No grand boulevards (other than on the perimeter ). Little cobblestone streets winding round and round on hills. Very authentic and not posh at all.

A real neighborhood with people shopping for their groceries and hardware stores and living life.

We got the feeling while in montemarte that it is still a separate village away from Paris. As we sat in cafes the locals would stop and talk to other locals. People knew the waiters, the other patrons and the passers-by.

In addition to the people living there we found bars and restaurants that were filled with young (20s) hip looking people that I got the feeling were from other parts of Paris

We went to a cave jazz bar which was filled with mostly or all French speakers. There too, people seemed to know each other and the waiters.

We only went to the sacre coer for about 15 minutes and couldn't wait to escape back into montemarte I can see why a day tripper who doesn't see the rest of mm would not like that area. But it is a tiny spot and easy to avoid.

Also/ we walked everywhere including to the center of Paris and back. It took under 1 hour to get to isle St. Louis, even with meandering. We walked back and even uphill it wasn't bad. If you like walking it is a great way to explore