Named after Mount Parnassus—the mountain in Greek mythology where the Muses were said to reside—Montparnasse has long had a reputation for creativity and intellectual daring. The neighborhood experienced its golden age—or its Années Folles (Crazy Years), as the period is known locally—during the 1910s and ‘20s, when internationally renowned artists and writers including Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Man Ray, Max Ernst, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, André Breton, and Marc Chagall called the neighborhood home.
Today, Montparnasse is home to the Tour Montparnasse, the city’s only skyscraper; visitors also flock to the Montparnasse Cemetery, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, and the Catacombs of Paris. You can take a tour of all four; alternatively, hop-on hop-off bus tours, bike tours, and walking tours provide a general neighborhood overview.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Tour Montparnasse, which debuted in 1973, is the city’s only skyscraper, and its 56th-floor observation deck provides some of the best views in town.
The Montparnasse Cemetery is the second-largest in Paris, after Père Lachaise, and contains the graves of many top artists and other creatives.
The macabre Catacombs of Paris were first established in the late 18th century, and they contain the remains of more than 6 million people.
How to Get There
The Gare Montparnasse is one of Paris’ largest and most important railway stations, and includes numerous train services, including the TGV. Additionally, the Montparnasse – Bienvenüe Métro station includes connections to the 4, 6, 12, and 13 lines. Other stations in the neighborhood include Vavin (line 4), Raspail (lines 4 and 6), Edgar Quinet (line 6), and Port-Royal (RER B). Alternatively, travel by bus or taxi, or explore on foot or by bicycle.
When to Get There
As one of Paris’ busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods, Montparnasse is destination-worthy throughout the year. Explore sights like the Montparnasse Cemetery during the day and venture to the top of the Tour Montparnasse in the evening to savor aerial views of Paris’ neon-lit cityscape.
Restaurants and Cafés in Montparnasse
Montparnasse’s history comes to life at the cafes and restaurants that were once favored by famous artists—La Coupole, Le Dôme, and La Closerie des Lilas are all still open today. The neighborhood is also renowned for its many Breton crêperies; don’t leave without indulging in a salted butter caramel crêpe.
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