A Tourist’s Guide to the Montparnasse Neighborhood

The Montparnasse neighborhood in Paris, overshadowed often by its famous tower, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and hidden gems waiting to be explored. This district, once the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris, still retains a unique charm and vibrancy. Let’s dive into what makes Montparnasse a must-visit for any tourist.

A Stroll Through History

The Artists and Intellectuals

In the early 20th century, Montparnasse was the hub of creativity and innovation. Renowned figures like Picasso, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald frequented its cafes and studios, drawing inspiration from the area’s lively atmosphere. As you walk through the streets, imagine the artistic fervor that once permeated the air.

The Catacombs

For those with a taste for the macabre, the Paris Catacombs are a short distance away. This underground ossuary holds the remains of millions of Parisians, offering a unique and eerie glimpse into the city’s past.

Cultural Hotspots

Theaters and Cinemas

Montparnasse is home to several theaters and cinemas showcasing both mainstream and avant-garde productions. The Gaîté Montparnasse and the Rive Gauche theaters are well worth a visit for those interested in the performing arts.

Museums and Galleries

Art enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the numerous small galleries scattered throughout the neighborhood. Don’t miss the Fondation Cartier, known for its contemporary art exhibitions.

Culinary Delights

The Creperies

Montparnasse is famous for its Brittany-style creperies. Rue du Montparnasse is particularly renowned for these, offering an array of options from sweet to savory crepes.

Classic French Cuisine

For a more traditional dining experience, there are numerous bistros and brasseries serving classic French dishes. The historic La Coupole, once a favorite of artists and writers, remains a popular choice.

Relax and Unwind

Luxembourg Gardens

A short walk from Montparnasse, the Luxembourg Gardens offer a perfect spot for relaxation. These beautifully manicured gardens are ideal for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

Shopping and Markets

For shoppers, the area around Edgar Quinet hosts a variety of markets, including a popular weekly organic market. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts.

Hidden Gems

The Montparnasse Cemetery

This cemetery is the final resting place of many famous individuals, including Serge Gainsbourg and Simone de Beauvoir. It’s a serene and contemplative spot, often missed by tourists.

The Small Streets and Alleys

Take time to wander off the beaten path and explore the small streets and alleys of Montparnasse. You’ll find charming boutiques, quaint cafes, and stunning murals.


Montparnasse, with its rich history and vibrant present, offers a slice of Paris that is both deeply rooted in the past and dynamically engaged with the present. From its artistic heritage to its culinary delights, this neighborhood provides a diverse and enriching experience for any tourist. Whether you’re visiting for the history, the culture, or simply to enjoy the Parisian lifestyle, Montparnasse is a neighborhood that truly has it all.