Montmartre - Sacré Coeur, Paris
Montmartre! The place is just full of tourists, the restaurants are over-priced and with snotty waiters, it is miles away from anywhere else and the famous city view from Sacre Coeur is no better than from the roof cafe at the Samaritaine department store. Besides, the place is littered with pick-pockets and around the corner are some not so nice areas after dark.
Personally, I was not that enthralled with PERE LACHAISE or SACRE COEUR. I'm sure there are many whom would argue, but it's just my opinion. Pere Lachaise is a famous cemetary, having famous people like Door's Jim Morrison calling it home. (There are many non-French buried here.) If you have the time and the desire to locate your favorite dead celebrity, go here. SACRE COEUR - this too is another tourist haven, however I don't see why. The view was decent, but nothing as spectacular (nor as clean) as the one from the Eiffel Tower. If you don't have time to visit it, don't feel too bad.
Montremartre - in the hey-days it used to be a popular hangout for artists of any kind. These days, however, those people selling paintings in the little square are not worth being called artists at all. Also note the souvenir shops: the ugliest among the ugly. It's behind the Sacre-Coeur: gladly give it a miss.
Place de Tertre is a very nice place of fun to visit. But also there are so many visitors there always. Do take care of your money, handbag and babies there. If you want to have a draw, do bargin first.
While visiting the Sacre Coeur,there are about a million different people waiting to draw your portrait..my advice-check out all the artists' work,and settle on a price which is normally between 100-200francs..me on the other hand,let go of a lot of cash!!
Be careful in the Montmartre area. While taking my nine-year-old niece into a bar to use the bathroom, we saw a drug deal going down. Use intelligence and caution.
If you want a portrait from the many artist at Sacre Coeur, negotiate the price first. One of them tried to charge me 100 dollars for a chalk charicature!
Would not at all recommend the restaurant(s) around the painters at Montmatre/Sacre Coeur. Really lazy and unfriendly. Even outside normal tourist times.
Fun Alternatives: Try one of the restaurants in town. But even avoid the Latiner Quarter. The service was not good there either. Maybe it was all because it was off season?
Beware of those Jamaican (they claimed to be) at the steps leading to top. They will ask you to hold on to some colorful string while they start making some pattern using the string. At the end they will tie the string to your wrist telling you it’s for luck… blah blah blah and then ask for some money. They asked me for 10 euro and I just gave them 1 euro just to get away from them. I shouldn’t have listened to them in the first place.
Unique Suggestions: Just walk away.
I have added this as a "warning or danger" simply because I feel that it is very easy to miss these lifts. We missed them somehow, so I thought I'd mention it here. They are positioned to your left if you are looking directly at the building. The photo to the left is the approximate position of where you will find them (I think - please correct me here if I am wrong). We walked up those steps with gearbags. If you were unable for the climb, you might avoid visiting the Cathedral on the misconception that there is no other way up other than the difficult walk!! Just remember that, if you are visiting, there and are not partial to climbing, or simply for the faster and easier route - there are Elevators!
When walking from the Sacre-Coeur to the Montmartre square, there will be a lot of painters trying to rip you off. If you are a firsttimer there, it's easy to mistake these people for the REAL painters. Just keep walking until you get to the square!
Also, be warned that while climbing up the steps to the church, there will people coming up to you, trying to sell you a wrist band or something.
They ask you to stick out your hand, so they can start weaving the wrist band around it. They will tell you that you don't have to pay, but in the end, they'll ask you for a tip - so you pay anyway. If you want a wrist band it's ok, if you don't just keep on walking.
You can't avoid the crowds at Sacre Coeur - but it is such a marvellos place and a wonderful view from its lofty setting.
It was a steep walk up the hill to Sacre Coeur, but well worth it. Especially on a nice day like we had.
Unique Suggestions: pay the one metro ticket to take the huge escalator (moving stairs)