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Exploring the Backstreets of Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

I will never be as adorably awkward as Audrey Tautou’s Amélie Poulin.

(My style? Definitely more foot-in-mouth, “Avert your eyes, children!” awkward)

But I will also always feel a little flutter in my heart for the whimsical version of Montmartre depicted in that film. And so, when Justin and I decided to spend some time in France during my all time favorite month to visit Paris, April, we knew we wanted to spend an afternoon in Amélie’s Montmartre.

More of a bibliophile than a film fan? Check out our literary tour of London!

Cafe, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

There was just one problem.

While Paris has always been a touristic town, over the course of the past 10-15 years, many parts of the city have, in my opinion, turned that element up from simmer to boil. Amélie’s Montmartre is no exception.

Bakery, Motorcycle, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Today, many of Montmartre’s main avenues feel like a kind of Boho Disneyland, complete with epic throngs trying to decide whether to buy the t-shirt, the canvas shoulder bag, or the poster version of Le Chat Noir.  

Le Chat Noir, Toulouse Lautrec, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Not very cinematic.

Cinema, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Was there a way to escape the madding crowd and get a sense of Amélie’s Montmartre? We were determined to try.

Stop #1: Sacre Cour

Sacre Cour, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Rising white above the Paris skyline, Sacré-Cœur Church is not only an iconic symbol of Montmartre, but a key feature of one of my favorite scenes from Amélie  where she has Nino following blue arrows to recover his photo album.

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Of course, Sacré-Cœur’s iconic status means it’s any attempt to approach the church from its front means battling hordes of fellow visitors. Thankfully, Justin and I were able to find a much more scenic route up to Sacré-Cœur.

After exiting the Anvers metro, we walked up Rue Briquet (where we saw these cool street artworks)…

Mona Lisa, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Street Art, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Handmaid's Tale, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

…before continuing up the souvenir shop-laden Rue de Steinkerque. (If you’re a chocolate lover, a stop at Maison Georges Larnicol might be a must.)

Souvenirs, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Instead of heading straight up the steps to Sacré-Cœur, however, we made a right at Place St. Pierre, and a left onto the quiet street of Rue Ronsard, which runs along the side of the church.

Stairs, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

After climbing a picturesque flight of stairs, we arrived at Rue Paul Albert— a cobbled street which mixes modern touches with a decidedly old-world charm. (If that’s not Amélie’s Montmartre, I don’t know what is.)

Sacre Cour,Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

One more set of stairs later, and we were at the back of Sacré-Cœur, admiring the church from a view few visitors experience.

Sacre Cour,Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Park, Sacre Cour, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

After a stop in Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet (the park behind Sacré-Cœur), we walked around to the front of the basilica and met this mad scene:

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Luckily, the inside of the church was quieter, and as lovely as I’d remembered it from trips past.

Sacre Cour, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Stained Glass, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Ceiling, Sacre Cour, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Stop #2: Rue de Saules

Souvenirs, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

After leaving Sacré-Cœur, we let the crowds take us down Rue Azais and on to Place du Tertre, I.E. the central hub of the pseudo bohemian tourist experience.

Place du Terte, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Local Art, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

To be fair, Place du Tertre is very cute, and yes, the artists at work there are professionals. But it’s also the exact opposite of a relaxing locals spot. (Restaurant prices are sky high, and stand still for more than 30 seconds and you’ll be inundated with offers for portraiture.)

Bohemia, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

We moved on, quickly, up Rue Norvins, and turned onto Rue de Saules. And, like magic, we were back in Amélie’s Montmartre.

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

The intersection of Rue St. Vincent and Rue de Saules not only serves as the film’s opening setting, it’s also one of the loveliest spots in Montmartre. The lovely Clos Montmartre vineyard and gardens sit to the right.

Rue St. Vincent, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Mural, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Ahead stands the Lapin Agile, one of the oldest cabarets still in existence in Paris (unlike the Moulin Rouge, the building retains its original form). Picasso and Modigliani (among others) used to hang out here, and today visitors can still enjoy traditional songs, comedy bits, and sing-alongs. The show is all in French, but can be quite enjoyable (from what I recall — I last went years ago) even if your parlez could use some work.

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

The lovely Le Musée de Montmartre is also right around the corner (inside a beautiful 17th-century house where Renoir worked for a time).

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Stop #3: Le Passe-Muraille and Two Moulins

Street Art, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Continued walking down Rue Norvins, and over to Rue Lepic doesn’t yield any specific Amélie moments, but the streets embody the film’s atmosphere.

Street Art, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Le Passe-Muraille artwork, based on the French short story of the same name was created by Jean Marais – a French actor and sculptor — in 1989.

Sculpture, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

This route also takes you past two historic wooden moulins (windmills), Moulin Radet and Moulin de Blute-Fin. These two moulins are collectively referred to as Moulin de la Galette and served as inspiration for artists like Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro.

Windmill, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Windmill, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Stop #4: Au Marché de la Butte

Parisian Market, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Nestled at no. 56 Rue des Trois Frères, Au Marché de la Butte exudes all the quintessential qualities of a quaint Parisian market. It’s small wonder Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jennet chose it as a key setting for the film.

Parisian Market, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Stop #5: Le Mur Des Je t’aime

Street Art, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

After a wander down Passage de Abesses, we made our way to another spot, not in Amélie, but which certainly fits with its title character’s quest to give others hope and joy and, ultimately, find love herself.

Wall of I love you, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

The wall of “I love you” is one of Montmartre’s newer sites, dating back to 2000. It features over 600 tiles showcasing the phrase, “I love you,” in 250 languages.

Stop #6: Café des Deux Moulins

Cafe 2 Moulins, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Just up the road from the Moulin Rouge nightclub (which, sorry, Moulin Rouge film fans, looks nothing like it did in the film) we found the Café des Deux Moulins — the art deco-styled cafe where Amélie works as a server.

Cafe in Amelie, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

We’d been warned off ordering food at the cafe, but were happy to enjoy a couple of drinks.

Coffee, Wine, Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

The tobacco stand featured in the film is gone now, but the other interesting elements of the cafe — I.E. the bar area — happily, remain unchanged. So sit back, film fan. Relax, and let your imagination roam. It’s what Amélie would want.

Amélie’s Montmartre, Paris, France, Uncontained Life

Santé!

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