The offbeat 2001 movie Amélie never gets old, nor does Montmartre, the neighbourhood in which Mademoiselle Poulain lived. Here’s how to see it through her fanciful eyes.
Decked out in your brightest colours (flip-bobbed hair optional), take the métro to Abbesses station, where Amélie first spots Nino rummaging for old snaps beneath the photo booth.
Once you’ve twirled your way up to ground level (there’s a lift if you’re not wearing sturdy lace-up shoes à l’Amélie), you’ll exit onto Place des Abbesses through a fabulous canopy of green iron and glass — famed Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard designed an array of inspired entrances for Paris’s train stations at the start of the twentieth century, and this particular one is the last-remaining of its style.
Walk eastwards along Rue Yvonne le Tac, continuing through onto Rue Tardieu. Soon on your left, beneath the creamy cupolas of Sacré-Coeur, you’ll arrive at Place Saint-Pierre. The phone booth that sets Nino off on his treasure hunt might not be here in real life, but the gorgeous double-decker carousel still spins away.
Scamper up the stairs as Nino does (alas, you probably won’t find any blue arrows), and zip around to the rear of the basilica, which you’ll remember from the movie’s final scenes. (Optional extra: for one of the best views in Paris, head inside Sacré-Coeur and up the 300 steps that take you into the dome; locals like Amélie might rarely do something so touristy, but visitors will long swoon over the memory of this stunning panorama).
Saunter back to the front of Sacré-Coeur, then scoot a little way down either of the two sets of stairs to the west of the funicular, turning right into Rue André Barascq. Take another set of stairs left into Rue Drevet, then swing right onto Rue des Trois-Frères. This is where you get a sense for the neighbourhood of Montmartre, for the quaint village it has long been, with a local electrician here and community theatre there. You half expect Amélie to flit out from one of the colourful doors — or pop out of that unexpected photo booth embedded into the façade of no.53.
Just ahead, you’ll see the corner grocery store Au Marché de la Butte, Amélie’s Maison Collignon, where she goes to buy her fig and three nuts, and indulge in one of her small pleasures in life: running her hands through the sacks of pulses and grains.
Continue straight, through to Rue Garreau, until you reach the cute little restaurant Le Petit Moulin. Look up right to see one of Montmartre’s remaining two windmills, then head down Rue Tholozé, passing Studio 28, the cinema theatre where Amélie watches old movies (and the faces of the crowd) on a Friday night.
At the end of the street, dog-leg right then left into Rue Lepic. At no.15 you’ll come to the famous Café des Deux Moulins, where Amélie works as a waitress.
The tobacconist corner is no more (nor are the quirky characters, like hypochondria-stricken Georgette and scowling, scorned Joseph), but everything else is happily close to the film set. Find a table and settle in for a meal, or even just a ‘crème brûlée d’Amélie.’ Just don’t forget to crack it first, as she did — another of her little life joys.
To head back to reality, you’ll find the Métro station Blanche at the bottom of this street.