Montmartre, 18th Arr.
Metro: Pigalle, Blanche, Place de Clichy, or Lamarck-Caulaincourt
Concierge.com's insider take:
The bulbous white-stone domes of Sacré-Coeur (built from 1875 to 1919) are Montmartre's dreamy visual emblem, but its real appeal is far earthier. Lacking a port district as the usual venue for less-than-holy pleasures, mid-19th-century Parisians claimed this hilltop village as a place to escape from the pieties of bourgeois France. Taverns, dives, and dance halls opened—some, like the iconic Moulin de la Galette, occupied the old windmills that crowned this breezy outcrop—and artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, of course, but also Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, and Utrillo) followed in search of provocative and accommodating subjects. Today, nostalgia for the Belle Époque is an industry perpetuated in cafés, clubs, theaters, restaurants, bars, and boutiques centered on the Place du Tertre, the prototype tourist trap that's fascinating precisely for that reason: The Butte (as Montmartre is often called by locals) and the Pigalle–Place de Clichy area below it have been in the kitsch-entertainment business so long they've acquired a historic patina. For something more authentic, try the leafy Place des Abbesses, coiling Rue Lepic, or lower sections of the edgy Rue des Martyrs. On the far side of the hill near the Lamarck-Caulaincourt metro station, real locals hang out in atmospheric joints on serpentine streets. Nearby, the Cimetière de Montmartre is possibly the only cemetery in the world with a century-old viaduct flying over its tombs.