Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris' Best #5: Montmartre

 Everyone we ran into on our previous trip to Paris, and many people back in the states, had told us that a must-see in Paris is the artsy Montmartre district. So we placed in high on our to-do list this trip to Paris. Bright and early Saturday morning, we took off for Montmartre.
 We didn't particularly pick the best route to see things in this area, so we thought we'd draw you a quick map on what we think a better plan would be. First, we'd start by visiting the Sacre Coeur church at the top of the hill. We got there by walking up sixteen thousand steps - something we wouldn't wish on anyone. Instead, we recommend getting off the Metro at the Lamarck Caulaincourt station and following the red dots up the hill to the red X (Sacre Coeur). Going back down the hill, we would recommend the stairs represented by the blue dots. On our trip, we did just the opposite. Sigh.
While following the red dots, you will pass through a reasonably normal Parisian neighborhood as shown in this picture. We passed numerous apartments, a pre-school, and a woman trying to secure a TV to the back of her bicycle.
 The streets were pretty quiet, and it appeared to be a nice, comfortable area in which to live.
 But we did see the occassional strange fellow walking down the street. Was this one Michelangelo?
 Once you get to the top of the hill, there will be a spectacular view of Paris. The day we visited it was a might bit nippy as rain clouds were rolling in and the wind was kicking up.
 Notice the sweater in my wife's hands. The only reason she wasn't wearing it at this point was that we had just climbed sixteen thousand steps (give or take a few) and she was still in the process of cooling off.
 Turning around after taking the above photo, I saw the Sacre Coeur.
 Climbing a few more steps, we got an even closer, more ominous view of the church.
 It is at this level that the crowd thickens. There are quite a few tourists milling about, and your usual tourist attraction minstrels playing their instruments, hawking their goods, and just generally trying to attract as much in tip money as they can. As I recall, someone was trying to start up a Woody Guthrie sing-along or some such thing.
 And some of the outfits are wild. Dig the lady with the white purse.
 But for the most part, it was just us and the rest of the average tourist population, such as this couple. I didn't take any pictures of the interior of the church as I had brought my old camera on this day, and I was well aware that nothing would turn out in a church as dark as Sacre Coeur.
 Here is a photo of just a fraction of the steps up to the church.
 Once you make it back down the steps (to the bottom of the blue dots on the map), you'll see a neighborhood that looks much like this. We weren't hungry yet, but we were a bit thirsty from all the climbing and walking, so we found a gelato shop and had some frozen refreshment. We weren't any more than halfway through our cone when an enormous downpour began. Luckily, our table was under a canopy with many tables (the rest of the tables were empty), so we were okay. But within 5 minutes, it was standing room only under that canopy! And in another 10 minutes, the rain had stopped for the day.
 Another typical building in the Montemartre district.
 Here is a typical vegetable stand - we saw several like this in the area. Notice the lad in the blue striped shirt who appears to be nonchalantly enjoying the passer-by.
 Another typical scene in the area. The rain had just stopped at this point.
 And yet another street corner.
We really didn't see any of the artist's displays that we had been told about - no paintings being hawked on the street, nothing like that. But we did see this one set of musicians as we made our way along. My wife thinks that maybe we missed the street where the artists congregate. Perhaps, but someone I doubt it. For whatever reason, they weren't out the day we visited. Maybe they had read the weather report.


Time Needed: 4 to 6 hours

Walking: 1 to 2 miles

Stairs: Depends upon how you do it. There is an elevator you can pay to use. Otherwise, be prepared for several hundred steps.

What to bring: camera, water

Pictures taken with: Olympus C-5060

1 comment:

Sandy said...

All the photos are great. I really enjoyed enlarging them and seeing the detail. That is a lot of steps, no wonder Laura is holding her sweater. This was a fun part of the tour, thanks!!