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A Scenic Walking Tour of Montmartre
One of the Paris's most charming walks begins at the Abbesses métro station (Line 12), which has one of only two remaining iron-and-glass Art Nouveau canopies designed by famed architect Hector Guimard. Explore the streets ringing Place des Abbesses, or begin the walk immediately by heading west along Rue des Abbesses. Turn right on Rue Tholozé and note the historic movie house, Studio 28, at No. 10. At the top of the street is the windmill Le Blute-fin, famously painted by Renoir. A right on Rue Lepic takes you past the only other windmill still standing, Le Radet. Take a left here onto Rue Girardon, to Place Dalida, marked with a voluptuous bust of the beloved French singer who popularized disco. (Yolanda Gigliotti, aka Dalida, lived until her death in 1987 at 11 bis, rue d'Orchampt, one of the city's narrowest streets, opposite Le Radet.)
The stone house behind Dalida's bust is the 18th-century Château des Brouillards, whose name, Castle of the Mists, is taken from the light fog that used to cloak this former farmland. Detour down the romantic alley of the same name. Renoir is said to have lived in the château before moving to the small house across the way at No. 8. From Place Dalida, head down the winding Rue Abreuvoir, one of the most-photographed streets in Paris. Residents used to walk their horses to the abreuvoir, or watering trough, at No. 15. Pissarro kept a pied-à-terre at No. 12. The stone-and-wood-beamed house at No. 4 was once home to a historian of the Napoleonic wars whose family symbol was an eagle. Notice the wooden sundial with a rooster and the inscription: "When you chime, I'll sing." At the pink-and-green Maison Rose restaurant, committed to canvas by resident artist Maurice Utrillo, turn left on Rue des Saules where you'll find Paris's only working vineyard, Clos de Montmartre. The vineyard is open to visits one weekend a year during the Fête des Jardins in September.
Across the street is the famous cabaret Lapin Agile, still going strong. On the opposite corner, the stone wall rings the Cimetière Saint-Vincent, one of the city's smallest cemeteries, where Utrillo is buried (to see it, walk west along rue St-Vincent, take a right, then another quick right). Backtrack up the Rue des Saules and take the first left onto Rue Cortot to the Musée de Montmartre, once home to a bevy of artists. Renoir rented a studio here to store his painting of Le Blute-fin. A few doors down, at No. 6, the composer Erik Satie, piano player at Le Chat Noir nightclub, lived during a penniless period in a 6-by-4-foot flat with a 9-foot ceiling (plus skylight). At the corner of Rue Mont-Cenis, the white water tower Château d'Eau still services the neighborhood. Turn right to reach the Place du Tertre, a lively square packed with tourists and street artists. Easily overlooked is St-Pierre de Montmartre, one of the city's oldest churches, founded in 1147. End your walk at the basilica Sacré-Coeur, and enjoy one of the best views of Paris from the city's highest point. This butte, or hilltop, has been famous since the 3rd century, when St-Denis, the first bishop of Paris, was martyred here, and after his beheading was said to have walked for miles while holding his own head. For an easy descent, take the funicular, which has been ferrying people up and down since 1900.
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