15 things to do in Saint-Ouen (France)

Saint-Ouen is a well-connected northern Paris suburb famous for its flea markets: Marché aux Puces is absolutely huge, open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with thousands of stalls and attracting more than 100,000 shoppers every day.

In terms of transport, Saint-Ouen is a dream, right on the RER C and 13 lines of the Paris Metro. This drastically cuts the journey time to top sights like the Eiffel Tower and museums like the Musée d’Orsay. Saint-Ouen is on the other side of Périphérique in the 18th arrondissement. So the Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, enlightening culture, café terraces and crazy nightlife await you.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Saint-Ouen:

1. Marché aux Puces

Marché aux Puces

If haggling is your thing, few shopping trips top Saint-Ouen’s Marché aux Puces.

There are more antiques and furniture dealers (2,000 traders in total) here than any other single market in the world.

Spread over 9 hectares of land, their stalls are divided into 15 different markets, some are completely covered up and feel like enclosed mini-malls, while others are like city streets.

Marché aux Puces offers plenty of clutter: ceramics, books, lighting or furniture, clearance items or knockoffs.

2. Cimetière de Montmartre

Montmartre Cemetery

The city’s third largest cemetery is a 5-minute ride from Garibaldi on line 13 of the Paris Metro.

This dates back to the 19th century and was on the northern border of the city at that time.

If visiting a cemetery seems like a creepy way to spend the day, it also has a cultural side, as you can look for writers like Émile Zola and Edgar Degas Wait for the plot of the painter.

But the cemetery is also a kind of sculpture garden, with mausoleums and mausoleums by great artists of the 19th century.

3. St. Denis Cathedral

St Denis Cathedral

Line 13, just ten minutes from Garibaldi, is a church that exudes the history of French royalty.

From the 900s onwards, almost every French king was buried here, and they are known for their beautiful mausoleums made between the 1100s and 1500s.

These are sensational pieces of Gothic and Renaissance sculpture that can distract you for hours.

The building was also groundbreaking, as it was arguably the first Gothic church in France when it was remodeled in the 1100s.

It’s a royal site and the revolution was not friendly to the cathedral, but it was restored in the 1800s by the master architect Viollet-le Duc.

4. Stade de France

Stade de France

The Stade de France is an epoch-making building of different eras and a place of worship for sports fans.

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Home games of the French national football and rugby teams are played at this majestic stadium built for the 1998 World Cup. It was in this arena that France lifted the trophy that year, and the event that united the country is in the stadium’s museum.

Architecture enthusiasts will be equally engrossed in the technical aspects of the tour when you get to know the six-hectare roof.

The 13,000-ton structure has special glass that filters infrared radiation but allows blue and green light to pass through to help grass grow.

5. Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Cathedral

The 18th arrondissement is south of Saint-Ouen and has some of the city’s most famous attractions.

Nothing is more famous than this neo-Byzantine cathedral that shines across Paris from its throne on the hill of Montmartre.

You have to get up for the eternal panorama of the city, but the cathedral is also indispensable: not only for the late 19th-century architecture, but for the hard times in the city’s history that it symbolizes.

It was built where the Paris Commune was destroyed in 1871 as an act of penance after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.

6. Montmartre

Montmartre

In this steep area, the wide and grand Haussmann Avenue gives way to a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets and winding hillsides.

There’s no denying that Montmartre is now more fashionable than when the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec went about their business.

But the area still has a bohemian feel to it thanks to its low-rise apartment buildings, two windmills, artist studios, media companies and a lively nightlife.

If you don’t mind the tourist route, Place de la Côte has stalls selling art prints, while the Moulin Rouge is remembered by Renoir, Van Gogh and many other artists.

7. Montmartre Museum

Montmartre Museum

The artistic theme continues at the Musée Montmartre, a pair of historic buildings that hosted many famous artists in the late 19th century.

Renoir lived here when he painted the famous La Bal du Moulin de la Galette and La Balançoire, and later Fauvists like Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz lived in the Maison du Bel Air.

The museum documents this period with paintings, posters and photographs by Steinlen, Utrillo and Toulous-Lautrec.

The gardens have been redesigned to match Renoir’s paintings and overlook the vineyards that have been here since the Middle Ages.

8. Dali Space

Dali space

Another artist associated with Montmartre was the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

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Right next to Place de la Côte, there is a small museum with 300 original works, the only permanent exhibition of Dalí in France.

Many of these works are prints and sculptures, including several pieces that present images from his most famous paintings, such as the clock in The Persistence of 3D Memory. With his playful style, Dalí is an easy-to-introduce artist to kids, and the museum has some interactive displays and workshops for younger visitors.

9. District 17

District 17

The grandeur of the 17th arrondissement compared to Montmartre, with the palatial apartments of the 19th century blocks built on broad avenues.

You won’t be shocked to learn that this is one of the richest areas in the city, and the food street market Marché des Batignolles reflects the presence of high earners.

Another draw of the 17th arrondissement is the lack of tourist interest, so you can experience Paris as a Parisian, dine in fine restaurants, browse boutiques and relax in the beautiful Parc Monceau, beautified in the 1700s.

10. The Grand and Petit Palais

Grand and Petit Palais

As part of a group of monuments created for the 1900 Universal Exposition, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais are worth a visit, both for their ornate Beaux-Arts architecture and for what they contain.

The Grand Palais is a complete collection of attractions and exhibition spaces, including the Palais de la Découverte Science Museum.

Chanel hosts its fashion shows here during Paris Fashion Week, as well as high-profile temporary art exhibitions.

The Petit Palais is a single art museum with many exhibits dating back to the Universal Exposition; with French greats such as Fragonard, Poussin, Ingres, Delacroix, Courbet, Monet and Sisley painting.

11. Musée Marmottan – Monet

Musée Marmottan - Monet

Take the RER C from Saint-Ouen to Avenue Herni Martin and you will be at the world-class Monet Museum in 20 minutes.

Thanks to a large donation from the artist’s son, Monet has worked on this site more than any other site on Earth.

This concept will excite art lovers who will see his 1874 work Impression, Sunrise, which actually gave birth to the Impressionist movement.

Many of Monet’s works were created in his garden at Giverny and will be known to those associated with his work.

There’s more Impressionist art by Sisley, Degas, Pissarro and more, as well as a beautiful set of medieval illuminated manuscripts.

12. Trocadero Gardens

Trocadero Gardens

On the same line, Jardins du Trocadéro and Palais de Chaillot offer timeless views across the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower.

If you can ignore the hoarding of tourists, it’s a scene worth thinking about in your own time as you wander around the world-famous landmark.

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But before you go any further, one of the museums at the Palais de Chaillot might be a distraction.

In the west wing there is a French Naval and Ethnology, and in the east wing is the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine: an unforgettable ode to French heritage and architecture, with collections first curated by esteemed architects Eugène Violet-le-Duc.

13. Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

There’s not much to say about the Eiffel Tower.

The 324-meter wrought iron tower is a skyline fixture without which Paris would not be the same.

The Eiffel Tower is not the work of one person, but a collective effort of the Eiffel Engineering firm led by Gustave Eiffel, but using designs by Émile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin.

It was the tallest building in the world until 1930, and the tallest building in France from 1889 until it was finally beaten by the Millau Viaduct in 2004.

Get there early to avoid long waits and see if you can live with the glass floor section on the first floor.

14. Musée d’Orsay

Orsay Museum

In 1986, inspired by the Paris Olympiad, the Academy of Fine Arts was converted into an art museum. This lavish 19th century setting is suitable for collecting the world’s finest Impressionist art.

You can get there from Saint-Ouen without changing to the RER, and in less than half an hour you will be amazed at the paintings of Degas, Monet, Gauguin, Signac and many more.

If you have a keen interest in art, you will surely be moved by Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette (especially after visiting Montmartre). You can also see portraits of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the Rhone and Dr. Gachet, or Paul Cézanne’s iconic card player.

15. Rodin Museum

Rodin Museum

All of Auguste Rodin’s most precious works are displayed in the museum in the mansion he used as his studio.

Thousands of sculptures, drawings and photographs are on display.

But if you want to take a shortcut, there are four works you can’t leave without seeing: The Thinker, The Kiss, Adam and Eve, and the Gates of Hell.

You’ll also learn that Rodin was an astute collector, having purchased three Van Gogh paintings, as well as works by Renoir and Monet, all of which will be on display at the museum.

Where to stay: The best hotels in Saint-Ouen, France
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