Cute side streets. Corner Cafes. Fromageries, Boucheries, Brasseries. The authenticity of Montparnasse area of Paris is what makes it my favourite part of the city. In a convenient location for tourist attractions the area brings a happy mix of local life and affordable tourist accommodation. A short trip on the Paris Metro reaches all major attractions yet the streets have few tourists. Montparnasse to most visitors goes unnoticed. It wasn’t until a recent visit, calling in at the Catatombs, that I discovered the area and I quickly fell for it while intoxicated on red wine and a Grand Marnier crepe at the corner cafe of Rue Daguerre (Cafe Daguerre). Now Montparnasse is my first port of call on any stopover in Paris.
April 2013 was our most recent visit to Paris. Fanfan’s first ever visit. Fanfan excited for the iconic attractions while myself for sentiment of French local life. The Montparnasse area of Paris the perfect compromise. I enjoy my morning croissant at the local patisserie as Jean Reno lookalikes queue for fresh baguettes. We then join the Metro for a Paris city tour. Even Fanfan took to French simple life ordering (pointing at) Rotisserie chicken at our local boucherie. On this visit we stay further out at Alesia station for cheaper accommodation (Parc Hotel).
From Monparnasse Station five stops on the Metro (12 minutes) finds St Michel Station, Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine. Here you can transfer lines for the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles.
As with the area there are some lesser known tourist gems. Two of my favourites are Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse-Bienvenue Station) and the Catatombs of Paris. The top of Tour Montparnasse has some of the best views in the city (56th Floor). Cheaper and better than the views from the Eiffel Tower. The Catacombs of Paris is a labyrinth of corridors beneath the city lined with the bones of over 6,000,000 dead Parisians. A little grim.
Within Zone 1 means prices for travel are no more than other tourist areas. For a short stopover in Paris a book of 10 tickets (€12.70) will cover the main attractions. These can be bought at any metro station. Montparnasse station is found on Line 4 the same line as other busy locations; Gare de Nord, St Michel (Notre Dame), Tour Montparnasser (Montparnasse — Bienvenüe), Catatombs (Denfert-Rochereau).