Montmartre derives its name from the Latin Mons Martis or “Mount of Mars,” which was the name given to the area by the Romans. The name was later Christianized (Martyrs Hill) after Saint Denis, the Bishop of Paris, was decapitated atop the summit during a rebellion circa 250 A.D.

Located in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre, which is also the highest point in Paris, is home to many artists and various expatriate communities. There are many different groups offering walking tours throughout the neighborhood, but I would suggest starting your exploration with a moment of contemplation at the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur before wandering aimlessly from shop to shop while auditioning the aggressive street artists that congregate for the tourists. There are several bocce courts speckled throughout the area. You will be a welcome spectator and in my case, a gracious loser, when you are challenged by a Jean-Paul Sartre look alike.

It is important to note that the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur has the best examples of Byzantine mosaics in Western Europe outside of Venice. Construction on the basilica began in 1875 and was finished in 1914, but the site wasn’t officially consecrated until 1919 after the 1st World War. The Pope has designated the basilica a place of perpetual adoration, meaning that Eucharistic Meditation is continual. Therefore, whenever the doors are open, the basilica is a sanctuary of prayer and Holy Communion. When inside you should refrain from speaking or making excessive noise so to not disturb those in worship.