Last month I had the good privilege to join a tour of Montmartre that made an embarrassment of me. You see, I have lived in Paris for seven years and thought I had a pretty good grasp on the history of Paris. Yet I found myself thinking frequently throughout my recent Discover Walks Tour “oh really?!” In the days following, I found myself questioning friends, “Did you know X,Y, or Z about Montmartre?”
Discover Walks has a unique format in that the company welcomes people to join and learn about the city they are visiting without an official obligation to pay. Of course, the assumption is that those who partake will compensate the tour guide in a manner that is reflective of the quality of service he or she has offered.
Without giving all the fun and juicy details away, a few things I picked up on the tour that struck me are:
- The origin of the name Montmartre (and the accompanying speculation about it)
- There are three windmills in Montmartre, although there were many more once upon a time
- The hill used to be covered in vines. The your passes by one you won’t want to miss.
- It used to be completely separate from Paris (annexed in 1860), and was seen as highly debaucherous (even more than I had thought!)
- There’s a place called Le Bateau-Lavoir for artists to bunk and hang out still in use to this day. We stood for several minutes in front of this historic place, as there is so much to learn about it and all the artists who have passed through its doors.
Discover Walks offers tours in many cities across Europe including Madrid, Rome, London, as well as St. Petersburg, Russia, and even San Francisco in the USA. I look forward to trying out another one of their tours (there are many others offered in Paris, alone) in various places across the world.