Welcome to my Montmartre Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour – a sweet food tour of the best patisseries, chocolate and ice cream shops, all on Paris’s famous artistic hilltop village in the 18th, north of the city. What is it like today? Join me for delicious things to do and taste on the quieter side on the hill.
Is Montmartre worth visiting? It certainly is. Most visitors make for the most popular basilica, Sacré-Coeur (it’s the second most visited monument in Paris) and the portrait painters in Place du Tertre. However, they are particularly crowded during peak tourist season – especially during the summer holidays. Why follow the crowds?
Sweet Things to Do in Montmartre
So, in this post, let’s discover the quieter, slightly less known areas around chocolate, macarons, cakes, ice cream and more. It makes Montmartre worth spending a day or afternoon while visiting Paris at any time of year.
As you can imagine, I can’t possibly mention everything to do here – but I also include some interesting facts as we pass between the shops mentioned. Don’t forget to check out my essential visitor tips at the end of the article.
Best Meeting Point
My Montmartre chocolate and pastry food online tour starts at Metro Blanche, with Hector Guimard’s familiar Art Nouveau entrance. Why is this a good starting point? We want a minimum of steps to climb. Did you know that Montmartre’s hill (called ‘la butte’) is 130 metres high and boasts 38 staircases?
Moreover, I also prefer to avoid the much more crowded area around Anvers metro station. If you want to visit Georges Larnicol chocolatier here, I strongly recommend his other branches (e.g. on Blvd Saint-Germain), as this area is particularly touristy.
First, head to 30 rue Fontaine, a bit south of Place Pigalle.
Famous French Chocolate Brands in One Shop
Let’s start with an immediate dose of chocolate endorphins! À l’Etoile d’Or is perhaps the most famous chocolate shop in Paris, as it is where Denise Acabo chooses the most famous chocolate brands in France.
Did you know that just above the shop was one of 3 apartments on the same street where painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec lived? Lautrec also lived at N°19bis, where Degas had his workshop – although didn’t get the chance to exchange with the more illustrious artist at the time.
See my separate article on Denise Acabo’s chocolate shop for much more in detail.
Stock up on a bag of chocolate Sauternes-soaked raisins and, if you have time, head to the Cemetery of Montmartre – we like to walk.
The cemetery is worth the visit (3rd largest in Paris), as it’s calm and a beautiful walk. Entrance is via avenue Rachel (past Le Moulin Rouge). Check out the tombs of Emile Zola, Offenbach, Berlioz, Degas, Dalida and Louise Weber, known as La Goulue, creator of the French Cancan.
For famous French chefs, you’ll also find Marie-Antoine Carême. What was he famous for? Carême founded haute cuisine, was the world’s first celebrity chef, plus was the first to pipe meringue using an icing bag. Who would have known he started a trend for beautiful meringue tarts?
Head back to the metro Blanche stop at Rue Lepic
(between the Moulin Rouge & Aux Merveilleux de Fred).
Don’t have much time? Then this is a good starting point.
Amélie’s Café Film Location
The steep street of Rue Lepic has been a popular film location. Cue many films from here, one of my favourites being ‘Les Ripoux’ (1984) starring Philippe Noiret and Thierry Lhermitte. Then in 2001 with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film, ‘Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain‘ (aka Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou).
The café where she worked in the film actually exists as the Café des Deux Moulins.
Stopping for a drink here at the Café des Deux Moulins (referring to the 2 windmills on the hill) can be pricey but a no-fuss brasserie-style lunch is great, soaking in the ambience by the authentic old-fashioned zinc bar. They do a good value formule (entrée/main course or dessert) or all 3.
Play Amélie and at least enjoy her favourite crème brûlée, cracking into the caramel layer with the back of a spoon. They also make a savoury foie gras crème brûlée!
Les Petits Mitrons – Best French Tarts
You’ll find many people at both windows – à faire du lèche-vitrine – literal window-licking at Les Petits Mitrons, also on rue Lepic.
This family-run artisanal bakery is one of the best places for tarts in Paris, from savoury seasonal vegetable and fresh fruit tarts. Their speciality is the thin, caramel-crusted base on their sweet tarts. Taste one slice and you’ll see why it’s so popular.
Still on rue Lepic, there’s a small morning market by the side of the street, just in case there’s not enough food already from the boucher, poissonier and fromagerie to choose from here!
Oldest Parisian Chocolate Shop
Looking for more famous chocolate in France? Then across the street is À la Mère de Famille, known as Paris’ oldest chocolate shop. The first green and gold-facade shop opened as a grocery in rue du Faubourg-Montmartre in 1761 (I strongly recommend you visit the original, classed a French national historical monument with wooden counter and rows of confectionary jars).
Today the family has an impressive chain of 14 chocolate-confectionary boutiques around Paris, all reminiscent of la Belle Epoque (Rue Cler, Rue Cambronne, Rue Bonaparte etc. and now in Saint-Germain-en-Laye west of the City). Fans of chocolate orange will love their different orangettes plus calissons d’Aix: losange-shaped, mouth-sized iced marzipans from Aix-en-Provence.
In 2021, À la Mère de Famille joined with Paris’s oldest Patisserie, Stohrer which was founded in 1730 by Louis XV’s pastry chef, Nicolas Stohrer. They now propose an assortment of pastries, macarons and cakes in rue Lepic. Try the Baba au Rhum which was invented by Nicolas Stohrer.
French – Korean Chocolate & Macarons
At the top of the street, turn right onto rue des Abbesses then first left on rue Tholozé.
Since 2015, Koreans Hyunsoo Ahn and Hyejin Cho both created Chocolat Illèné following a star-studded chocolate-pastry career in Paris. While Hyunsoo was being trained by chocolatiers Michel Chaudun and Patrice Chapon, Hyejin was learning from pastry chefs Christophe Adam (previously at Fauchon) and Camille Lesecq (previously at le Meurice).
Spot their macarons: a mix of the smooth Parisian gerbet macarons and deliberately cracked, old-fashioned macarons à l’ancienne – simply melt-in-the-mouth gluten-free almond deliciousness.
See the different kinds of French macarons in my article on Macarons vs Macaroons for more.
Choose from seasonal flavours or the favourites at all times of year: pistachio, caramel, sesame, black sesame and soya milk. I was most intrigued by l’Armoise. Yes, you can even taste a MUGWORT herbal macaron, which I believe should have a more scrumptious name in English, don’t you?
Their signature chocolate, l’Illené, with timut pepper ganache and typical Korean candied plum demonstrates their astonishing art of blending Korean culture with French savoir-faire.
TURN BACK towards rue Lepic, and follow it around uphill.
Just opposite, continuing on Rue Lepic at N°54 is a blue door that, paradoxically, always looks like it needs a paint! It’s where Vincent Van Gogh stayed with his brother, Theo (1886-88) before he moved south. That door hasn’t changed in many years.
Continue gently up the hill here by just one block,
turn left on rue Tourleque and walk up rue Caulaincourt to N°48
Best Breakfast in Montmartre
I say the best breakfast but after tasting Boris Lumé’s pastries, it’s not just bread and viennoiseries that are fabulous here. This bakery is easy to spot for its historical storefront. With its gleaming “Boulangerie Pâtisserie du Moulin de la Galette” it’s a French historical monument.
There’s a small bar to stop for a quick coffee, although be aware that the locals and many of heard of this address too, so be prepared to queue at lunchtimes in particular. Their quiches are exquisite.
Thanks to his Japanese wife, Boris Lumé marries French pastry with Japan – a tray of An-Pan often sit on the counter. His pastries are divine – from chestnut (marron) éclairs, a mille-feuille which looks like a cross between a tart and éclair, plus the Matcha green tea cakes are incredibly delicate. Choux buns stuffed with matcha, chocolate or vanilla cream plus financiers, Moelleux au chocolat lava cakes, and cannelés line the French teacake counter.
Larher Pâtisserie (Meilleur Ouvrier de France)
Try his macarons (mango/passionfruit; mille fleurs) – see my post for more details, as he participates in the annual charity event, Macaron Day in Paris with the prestigious group of pastry chefs, Relais Desserts. Spot the macaron place cards and macaron porcelain plates.
His specialities are many, including Le Pavé de Montmartre, a sumptuous, moist square cake of almond biscuit, topped with a thin layer of toasted marzipan. What I particularly love about his macarons and pastries is that they are not that sweet. The Monté Cristo plays with the acidic raspberry with chocolate while if you’re big into intense chocolate, try the Toulouse-Lautrec. It’s art – and in hommage to the painter, who’s workshop is just a block down on the same side of the street on the corner (spot the wide windows – can’t be missed).
Fan of Parisian flan? Then Larher’s flan was recently awarded one of the best in Paris – so get there on a Saturday when it’s fresh out of the oven.
Back to rue Lepic
Place du Tertre
I normally avoid it but if you plan on visiting the crowded Place du Tertre, continue along the busier half of rue Norvins. While there, pop into the Biscuiterie de Montmartre – and Carette, for a macaron teatime. Otherwise I recommend taking the other oldest, quieter parallel street in Montmartre, rue Saint Rustique.
Oldest Streets in Montmartre & Artistic History
La Bonne Franquette (playing on a French expression meaning unfussy, simple food) has been a legendary restaurant with the local Montmartrois. Regulars such as Degas, Renoir, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec all loved to love, eat, drink and sing here.
Montmartre’s Oldest House & Tea in Renoir’s Garden
Turn onto Rue Cortot, looking right to N°6 where composer Erik Satie (known for his piano Gymnopédies) lived for 8 years. As I discovered at the Satie Museum in Honfleur, he had an oh-là-là wee affair with painter Suzanne Valadon a couple of doors down at 17th century La Maison du Bel Air, the oldest house in Montmartre – now the Montmartre Museum.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Montmartre Museum. Even better, enjoy a drink at the Café Renoir in the gardens. A quiet haven from the tourist trail – and spot the famous swing immortalised by the painter, who also lived there.
La Maison Rose
On the crossroads of rue de l’Abrevoir and rue des Saules is La Maison Rose, renovated in 2017. It’s a restaurant-café made famous by Utrillo’s paintings (son of Suzanne Valadon) and where Charles Aznavour enjoyed many after-song drinks on la Butte.
It’s hard to believe you’re in Montmartre at this point. Right on rue des Saules, discover the last vineyard in Paris, le Clos de Montmartre, at the back of the Musée de Montmartre.
The annual Fête des Vendanges is quite an event since 1934 every second Saturday of October – see my wine harvest festival article for more.
Autumn in Montmartre
Back to a pastry shop! I have digressed but we’ve worked up an appetite again.
Best Madeleines at Gilles Marchal
Head to Gilles Marchal on the corner of rue Ravignan. Like the madeleine cake made famous by Marcel Proust, chef Marchal is also from Lorraine. As a result, you have to try his speciality: fresh madeleines from the oven at the back of the shop. Choose from his classic salted caramel, chocolate, orange, Sicilian pistachio – or even nature.
For Autumn, Monsieur l’écureuil‘s (squirrel) praline is a cracker and I personally love the glazed lemon madeleine. If you’re lucky, he may have some savoury truffle madeleines warm from the oven. His pastries are also divine – try the pear and almond tart (like the Parisian Bourdaloue tart), les mille-feuilles and éclairs.
Head downhill down rue des Trois Frères to Rue Tardieu, at the bottom of the Funiculair
Best Salted Caramel Macarons & Chocolate
This is the perfect spot to stop for macarons and chocolate – especially if you plan to go up to Sacré Coeur basilica. Christophe Roussel’s boutique, Duo Avec Julie is the perfect location, as it’s right in front of the flight of 222 steps and next to the Funiculaire.
Christophe Roussel is the famous chocolatier and pastry chef from La Baule and popular all along France’s north-west coast, known for the Guérande salt. So imagine a lot of delicious salted caramel in pots, in chocolate – and ensure you try the salted caramel macarons, one of my Top 20 Best Macarons in Paris.
Sensitive to environmental and social practices, Christophe has chosen his exclusive, signature chocolate as pure origin Bahiana® from Brazil. All dark chocolates and pralines are rich, intense, and accessible with 65% cacao. Taste his crispy chocolate raspberry ‘Kisses From’, Tokyo Sésame Pralines and chunky Electro’chocs. His latest creation is a chocolate and salted caramel confection in the shape of a crab, reminiscent of his native coastal town of La Baule.
As I say in my recipe book, Teatime in Paris – Christophe is one of the most genuine, talented yet fun-loving pastry chefs I know. I’m also so honoured to have been invited twice on such a prestigious French jury for his annual Amateur Pastry Competition in la Baule – the latest challenge was end June 2019.
Special treats are in store on the weekend, when his patisserie and cakes are available, direct from La Baule. In the meantime, sit and enjoy the moelleux au chocolat or gâteau Nantais (not unlike this Gâteau de Saint-Germain made with almonds and rum) with a hot chocolate at the new chocolate bar.
Buttes de Montmartre Chocolates
Don’t leave without trying his ‘Petites Buttes de Montmartre’. These little chocolate ‘hills’ are produced only for the French boutique in Montmartre. Try the dark chocolate and cassis (blackcurrant), plus the dark chocolate and yuzu.
The milk chocolate coconut praline with popping candy (sucre pétillant) is the most delicious sweet fireworks in the mouth. For more, read my full article on Christophe & Julie Roussel in rue Tardieu.
Head towards the Metro Abbesses for the last stops
Best Ice Cream in Montmartre
Next door in Rue Tardieu is Bachir, serving Lebanese organic ice cream since 1936. It’s pricey and there are extras like adding broken pistachio nuts and topping with Chantilly cream etc. but if it’s just a taste of something refreshing and light, then I thoroughly recommend a small pot of their classic rose petal ice cream.
To cleanse the palate, Une Glace à Paris is a MUST on rue des Abbesses. Both Emmanuel Ryon (Meilleur Ouvrier de France and World Pâtisserie Champion) and Olivier Ménard (ex Fauchon, Pierre Hermé, Harrods) are deliciously mad about ice cream! Frankly, after tasting their creations, it’s difficult to eat mundane shop-bought ice cream.
You’ll see why just by tasting some of their incredible flavours (parfums): smoked vanilla from Indonesia; buckwheat with nougatine; millefeuille; Parisian crunchy caramel, candied chestnut. Get the picture?
Note: Closed on Mon/Tues. Plus it’s first come, first served to enjoy them on their boutique’s deckchairs – so there’s a lot of jealous eyes waiting to pounce on your spot once finished!
Just around the corner (and opposite the metro stop) is the Je T’Aime fresco by Frédéric Baron. The wall says “I love you” in 311 languages.
Abbesses – Deepest Metro in Paris
It’s common all of autumn and winter to have wafts of roasted chestnuts at the famous Art Nouveau metro entrance, renovated in 2007.
Abbesses is the deepest metro in Paris (36m underground) and so it’s the best way to leave Montmartre by GOING DOWN the 181 steps (although there is a lift).
More Tourist Information
Consult the Official Tourism Office of Montmartre on 7 rue Drevet. They also have a wonderful “Discover Montmartre” map and fliers on the village’s history and what’s on. More information from the Paris Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tips for Visiting Montmartre
- Is Montmartre a safe area? Even off-season, Montmartre is busy in certain areas – especially around Sacré-Coeur, Place de Tertre (famous for the street artists) and the metro stations when crowds can form. PLEASE be careful of pickpockets there.
- Be Aware of Scams: Like any major city, be street smart. If eating outside on terraces, don’t leave your phone on the table and don’t fall for scams if people come up to you asking questions – walk on. Otherwise enjoy the area and stay away from the touristy crowds;
- Montmartre is on a rather steep hill, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk a lot. It’s also windy in winter, so dress accordingly;
- Bring water with you, especially if you plan to enjoy a lot of chocolate – regardless of the weather;
- Pace yourself and try to keep some aside for later. This is not aimed at trying everything in one go;
- Plan to visit Sacré Coeur (you can go inside) via the funiculaire? It’s the price of a metro ticket;
- Avoid Tuesdays if possible, as some patisseries and ice cream shops are closed;
- To really enjoy Montmartre, allow a whole day or at least an afternoon.
Disclaimer: None of the addresses or recommendations in this post are sponsored. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
This post was originally published 19 October 2019 but is now completely updated.