A Full Guide to the Montparnasse Neighborhood in Paris

What to do in Montparnasse?

Many visitors mistakenly give Montparnasse a pass. Probably best known for two substantial but uninteresting landmarks — a forlorn skyscraper and a busy railway station — it doesn’t offer the allure of nearby districts. Yet this quiet neighborhood has a handful of standout destinations. And the entire quartier has a relaxed community feel where visitors can enjoy everyday Parisian life away from the busier tourist hotspots.

My TOP 5 Highlights in Montparnasse

  • Exploring the Paris Catacombes (1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014): A darkly surreal experience under Paris shared with the bones of its former residents. Exploring the ossuaries is one of the most fascinating and memorable Parisian experiences.
  • Strolling down Rue Daguerre: A promenade down Rue Daguerre is invigorating. The tight pedestrianized street is packed with shops and restaurants. A seafood market and artisanal food sellers add color to a street loved by gastronomes and local shoppers.
  • An authentic Breton crêpe in Paris’s Little Brittany (Rue du Montparnasse, 75006): Sans seagulls and medieval castles, this street is lined with (nearly) authentic Breton crêperies that bring a little flavor of the windswept coastal region to Paris.
  • Follow the trail of intellectual luminaries (105 Bd du Montparnasse, 75006): During the ‘Roaring Twenties,’ Montparnasse was a center of intellectual energy, attracting famous names from across the globe to clash minds. Cafés, bars, and other haunts frequented by artistic and literary greats are still standing, especially around the suitably renamed Place Pablo-Picasso. Start (or finish) at Café de la Rotonde, once frequented by Picasso, Modigliani, and Ernest Hemingway.
  • Be blown away by the sculptures at Musee Bourdelle (18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015): An authentic studio in attractive surroundings makes the collection of impressive sculptures even more affecting.

General information

On the left bank of the Seine in the 14th arrondissement, Montparnasse is not a natural tourist destination. A mix of residential and commercial streets make this a more lived-in part of Paris, with a community spirit typical of urban neighborhoods. Calm and generally safe, the quartier contains a significant rail hub, Gare Montparnasse. Although the occasional opportunist may appear around the station, it is well-policed. As a residential and business district, Montparnasse flies under the tourist radar. With excellent transport links and agreeable surroundings, it can be a good value base for exploring Paris.

How to get to Montparnasse?

Gare Montparnasse connects Paris with the eastern regions of France and is a major transfer hub for the Paris Métro and bus services.

  • Métro lines: 4, 6, 12, 13
  • Bus lines: 28, 58, 88, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96

Several Métro lines serve points in Montparnasse:

  • Line 6: Edgar Quinet, Raspail Line 4: Vavin
  • Line 13: Gaieté

Attractions, activities, and tours in Montparnasse

Montparnasse may lack the knockout attractions of nearby quartiers, but it offers some intriguing and alternative sights and activities that can add some color to your time in Paris.

Best attractions

Montparnasse

In Montparnasse there are many attractions that you should visit. You can find the best ones here.

  1. 01

    Antoine Bourdelle Museum

    Museum in Quartier du Montparnasse
    Our highlight
    Montparnasse, Paris, France  : Antoine Bourdelle workshop museum in the Montpa
    Add to myTravel added

    Antoine Bourdelle Museum is tiny gem of an art museum in the Montparnasse district in Paris. Once the atelier (workshop) of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, this intimate space doesn’t try to compete with the glitzy galleries of Paris. But the collection of striking sculptures and intimate setting make this a rewarding place to visit in Montparnasse. The permanent collections are free.

  2. 02

    Catacombs of Paris

    Cemetery in Quartier du Montparnasse
    Our highlight
    Montparnasse, skulls and bones in Paris Catacombs
    Add to myTravel added

    We promised alternative destinations, and they don’t get more unusual than exploring the catacombs under Paris in the 14th arrondissement. Holding millions of very visible skeletons (don’t worry, you won’t see them all), the ossuaries went from an underground party venue to a must-see-with-your-own-eyes tourist success.

  3. 03

    Cimetière du Montparnasse

    Cemetery in Quartier du Montparnasse
    Our highlight
    Paris, panoramic view on Montparnasse Cemetery from Tower Montpa
    Add to myTravel added

    If you didn’t see enough dead people in the catacombs, Paris’s second-largest necropolis in the 14th arrondissement is the place to go. They are not on display, but with the names of many famous residents from French history on tombs, this orderly and well-tended cemetery is an intriguing place to visit.

  4. 04

    Musée de la Liberation de Paris

    Museum in Quartier du Montparnasse
    Our highlight
    Add to myTravel added

    An underappreciated museum focused on the events of 1944 while paying respect to the Free French general, Philippe François Marie Leclerc de Hauteclocque, and resistance leader Jean Moulin. The Musée de la Libération in Paris opened on 25 August 2019 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. It is located in the 14th arrondissement directly opposite the famous Paris Catacombs. To attract more visitors, 3 museums have been merged: The Musée de la Libération de Paris, the Musée du Général Leclerc and the Musée Jean Moulin.

  5. 05

    Tour Montparnasse

    Building in Quartier du Montparnasse
    Our highlight
    Tour-Montparnasse-Blick
    Add to myTravel added

    You want to see (almost) all the highlights of Paris at a glance? Here you go! Then you should not miss the observation deck of the Tour Montparnasse. From the outside, it’s just an inconspicuous office building, but the observation deck is about the same height as the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Eiffel Tower. So the view is really spectacular and combines the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, Notre Dame and more in a single panorama!

    Finished in 1973, the lonely and unloved skyscraper was the tallest in France. Until 2011, when the title was usurped by Tour First. It still lays a fair claim to hosting the best views in Paris, though.

Certainly from the observation deck of the Tour Montparnasse you can undeniably enjoy by far the most beautiful view of Paris. In stark contrast to the panoramic views, the district’s other notable historical feature is the Catacombes de Paris. The long tunnels reputedly hold the remains of over 6 million people. Originally an excursion for privileged Parisians, the ossuaries opened to the public in 1874. In recent years, it has become one of the leading attractions in Paris.

Best tours

There are many things to do in Montparnasse. Here you can find the best tours.

  1. 01

    Montparnasse Walking Tour: Secrets, Spies and Cafe Society

    Walking Tour in Quartier du Montparnasse
    viator Montparnasse WalkingTour
    Source: viator.com
    Add to myTravel added

    Teasing out the stories and points of interest in one of Paris’s oft-overlooked districts is this fact-filled amble around the neighborly streets of Montparnasse. Cafe society ruled here between the First and Second World Wars. Celebrities mingled with everyday people and the arts thrived. Not even the shadow of the Nazi occupation and the French Resistance could dampen Montparnasse’s joie de vivre.

    This tour is available in English.

  2. 02

    Paris: Montparnasse Smartphone Audio-Guided Tour

    Walking Tour in Quartier du Montparnasse
    GYG Montparnasse Audio Guided Walking Tour
    Source: getyourguide
    Add to myTravel added

    This tour is suitable for you if you prefer sightseeing on your own. The smartphone audio-guided tour is a convenient tool to explore the streets and discover the local legends. With a noted artistic and intellectual heritage in Montparnasse, there is much to discover. Learn about Montparnasse’s famous residents such as Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. Discover the origins of avant-garde art styles including Cubism, Dadaism, and existentialism.

    This tour is available in English and French.

  3. 03

    Skip-the-Line Paris Catacombs Tour

    Walking Tour in Quartier du Montparnasse
    viator Montparnasse Catacombs Tour
    Source: viator.com
    Add to myTravel added

    Explore the dark underworld of the Paris Catacombs beneath the City of Lights. Bypass the queues and head into this fantastically macabre tunnel system lined with the skeletal remains of more than 6 million Parisians.

    This tour is available in English.

Eating & drinking in Montparnasse

Undoubtedly Montparnasse is a great destination for dining. A mix of good bistros, neighborhood haunts, and a thriving diversity of international cuisine means there is room for adventurous chefs and local crowd pleasers.

Top restaurants

You want to visit a really good restaurant? Here you can find our restaurant tips for Montparnasse.

  1. 01 Le Bistrot Des Campagnes

    For hearty French food with an inventive twist, this cozy neighborhood favorite in the 14th arrondissement is an authentic bistro that consistently delights.

  2. 02 Crêperie le Petit Josselin

    Montparnasse is home to Paris’s Little Brittany, and there are numerous good crêperies in the area. But we have to go with Crêperie le Petit Josselin because they serve some of the tastiest crêpes outside the real Brittany.

  3. 03 Le Clos Y

    Close to leading attractions, this restaurant showcases the inventiveness of restaurants in Montparnasse. Fusing French and Japanese cuisine, this is a top-tier restaurant with top-tier prices.

  4. 04 Le Cornichon

    The set menus offer decent value at Le Cornichon, a brasserie that adds a touch of chic to the dining experience in the 14th arrondissement. Excellent, satisfying food in tasteful surroundings.

  5. 05 Papy aux Fourneaux

    Perfect for groups and hungry visitors with a hankering for home cooking, Papy aux Fourneaux is airy, welcoming, and focused on making great food to share. A fun alternative to ordinary restaurants in the 14th arrondissement.

The most beautiful cafés

International chains cluster around Gare Montparnasse. But in a quartier where Parisians mix easily with visitors, a handful of decent corner cafés and modern coffee shops add to the flourishing community ambiance.

  1. 01 Cafe Odessa

    A buzzing neighborhood fixture with a throwback style. The sprawling terrace is ideal for watching the milieu of Montparnasse pass by.

  2. 02 Hexagone Café

    Handily situated for grabbing something to warm the spirits in Montparnasse cemetery, this cheery and pared-down coffee shop sells coffee and delectable homemade treats in the 14th arrondissement.

  3. 03 High Societhé

    Tea lovers are often forgotten about in travel guides, but not by us. High Societhé is a refreshingly different old-style British tea salon in the 14th arrondissement. Hidden and charming, it is a neighborhood favorite and one for tea drinkers.

  4. 04 Le Montparnasse Café

    The striking red décor and a tightly packed terrace make this a popular gathering place on the periphery of Montparnasse, despite the densely packed roads outside.

  5. 05 Losserand Café

    One of the better traditional cafés in Montparnasse that doubles as a bar, good value eatery, and animated café.

Shopping in Montparnasse

This neighborhood is the place to find the big international chains alongside more artisanal shops, not to mention the bustling street markets in the district.

  • Rue Daguerre (buzzing market street): rue Daguerre, 75014.
  • Marche Edgar Quinet (Wednesday and Saturday morning market): Bd Edgar Quinet, 75014.
  • Centre Commercial Beaugrenelle (sizeable shopping mall): 12 Rue Linois, 75015.
  • Montparnasse Rive Gauche (Grey commercial center with French and international chains, like Lacoste, Celio, Naf Naf, C&A): 10 Rue du Départ, 75015.
  • Palais des Thes (tea shop): 25 Rue Raymond Losserand, 75014.
  • L’Occitane: Gare Montparnasse, 17 Bd de Vaugirard 75741.
  • Rip Curl Paris: 74 Bd du Montparnasse, 75014.
  • Monoprix Montparnasse: 31 Rue du Départ, 75014.

The finest art galleries and museums

More commercial and residential than nearby districts, Montparnasse is short of big-name art galleries. But this being Paris, there are still some treasures tucked away for art lovers.

  1. Montparnasse, Paris, France  : Antoine Bourdelle workshop museum in the Montpa

    01 Antoine Bourdelle Museum

    Antoine Bourdelle Museum is tiny gem of an art museum in the Montparnasse district in Paris. Once the atelier (workshop) of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, this intimate space doesn’t try to compete with the glitzy galleries of Paris. But the collection of striking sculptures and intimate setting make this a rewarding place to visit in Montparnasse. The permanent collections are free.

  2. 02 Atelier Gustave

    The studio of sculptor Gustave Germain in the 14th arrondissement now houses art from contemporary artists. Getting in is tricky, as it is normally hired for events. But getting into one of the infrequent public exhibitions is worth it if only to admire the impressive and unique workshop (atelier).

  3. 03 Fondation Cartier

    This respected local institution (full title: Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain) hosts contemporary art exhibitions of city-wide renown in the 14th arrondissement.

  4. 04 Galerie Camera Obscura

    A few steps from Fondation Cartier in the 14th arrondissement is this compact yet fascinating photography gallery full of arresting images.

The most beautiful hotels

As a business center with fantastic transport links and a respectable neighborhood, you can usually get a little more for your money when staying in Montparnasse without compromising comfort. Here are five hotels in this district that are worth every penny.

  1. booking Montparnasse Hotel Le Six
    Source: booking.com

    01 Hôtel Le Six

    4 Stars | Fresh styles and beautifully finished rooms, coupled with a reputation for exceptional service, place Hôtel Le Six in the upper echelon of hotels anywhere in Paris. You can find this beautiful hotel between the Latin Quartier and Montparnasse.

  2. booking Montparnasse Hotel A LA Villa des Artistes
    Source: booking.com

    02 Hôtel A La Villa des Artistes

    3 Stars | Crisply decorated, comfortable rooms overlooking a cute and leafy courtyard add up to a great value place to stay in a practical location in the Montparnasse neighborhood.

  3. booking Montparnasse Hotel Aiglon
    Source: booking.com

    03 Hôtel Aiglon

    4 Stars | Sitting above a corner café, this art-deco-themed hotel in the 14th arrondissement offers spacious, cozy rooms conveniently situated for local transport and amenities.

  4. booking.com Montparnasse Hotel Jardin Le Brea
    Source: booking.com

    04 Hôtel Jardin Le Brea

    3 Stars | Hôtel Jardin Le Brea represents Montparnasse with verve. Service, facilities, and a style that defy the 3-star rating. Not to mention excellently located near Vavin metro station and the magnificent Jardins de Luxembourg.

  5. booking.com Montparnasse Victoria Palace Hotel
    Source: booking.com

    05 Victoria Palace Hôtel

    4 Stars | Marketing itself as the most relaxed hotel in Paris, this recently renovated gem is a rising star amongst Parisian boutique hotels. Sleek, sophisticated, and renowned for paying attention to the little details.

History & Facts

After a largely undistinguished presence in Paris, the neigborhood of today slowly started to emerge. A process hastened after Montparnasse hill was leveled to make way for the wide Boulevard Montparnasse. In 1824, Montparnasse cemetery opened and is today the second largest necropolis in Paris. While in 1840, the arrival of the railways saw the building of Gare Montparnasse, now one of the big six Parisian rail termini. It gained international notoriety after a serious accident in 1895, a moment captured in a remarkable photo of the steam engine protruding through the station wall. The new station opened Paris up to provincial France and citizens escaping poverty. Like the Bretons who arrived and set up shop near the station, creating Montparnasse’s creperie-lined Little Brittany.

Montparnasse
Overview of Paris from Pompidou Center with Montparnasse Tower in the distance.

The 1920s ushered in a golden period: Les Années Folles (Crazy Years) saw down at heel Montparnasse become the chosen meeting place for painters, writers, composers, and other intellectual luminaries. Migrating from gentrifying Montmartre to somewhere retaining a bohemian air, thrifty artists made it their home. Right up to World War II, the successful and the aspirational rubbed shoulders with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway in the cafés, bars, and salons of the neighborhood.

FAQ

Is Montparnasse easy to explore on foot?

Compact and flat, this neighborhood is easy to walk around. However, many of the leading attractions are spread out, and walking around them can be tiring.

Do I need a map to explore?

It can help to have Google maps or something similar. Many visitors arrive at Gare Montparnasse, and navigating around the local highlights can be tricky as they sit at different points in the district.

Is Montparnasse safe?

Yes – It is a residential district and no riskier than other urban neighborhoods. Basic pickpocketing precautions and awareness is recommended around Gare Montparnasse.

Neighboring districts

The star attraction in the neighboring quartiers is the majestic Jardins de Luxembourg, just north in the 6th arrondissement. Next to it is the Quartier Latin, you should definetely visit aswell. Val-de-Grâce (north east) and Notre-Dame-des-Champs (north west) are attractive areas that are pleasant to explore. The former is home to thriving streets, regal buildings, and Marie Curie’s former laboratory. The latter is a chic area brimming with shops and designer boutiques. Adjacent districts like Necker and Croulebarbe are residential areas that don’t offer much for short-term visitors.

 

About the author
Laura Schulze

I love traveling! Whether it's the Australian outback, the fjords of Norway or city trips to the most beautiful cities in the world like Paris, Singapore, Barcelona or New York - I'll write down my best tips so that your trip will be a very special highlight.

How did you like this article?

Comments

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Log in Register

myTravel - your ultimate travel planner

Here you can log in to myTravel and plan your trip online. Don’t have an account yet? Register here for free.

5 reasons why myTravel makes your travel planning easier!

Password forgotten?

Please enter your email address to reset your password.

myTravel - your ultimate travel planner

Register now for myTravel, the free trip planning tool - and you can start planning your next trip online!