Day 13 in Paris: Montmartre, Sacre Coeur and heading home


Post-Normandie, we returned to the City of Lights for one day more (if you’re singing the Les Mis song, we are kindred spirits).  Our destination: Montmartre, a neighborhood in north Paris where the artists ruled, where the Moulin Rouge of lore was (and is) and where street art, pickpockets and tourists abound.

One small note about Day 12:  It’s worth pointing out that French non-speakers Sarah and I were left to our own devices on Saturday night, and we adventured back into the Marais to find some gelato at Pozzetto.  Holy mother of awesomeness.  If you are in the Marais, GO THERE.  We met an adorable family from California; their boys said the Clementine gelato was the best – I vote for Nocciola.

Anyway, back to Day 13: we decided to take an English language walking tour of the area, which was terrific.  I’d recommend the tour group if I could find them online, which I can’t right now, but if I do I’ll update this entry.  We saw the apartment where Van Gogh lived:

Van Gogh's apartment
Exciting, huh? It’s the 2nd one from the top on the left.

And we learned about various other artists of the famous variety who made Montmartre their home, mostly because it was cheap and outside the tax barriers in Paris in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The tour ended at La Basilique du Sacré Coeur, which was built a mere 200 years ago or so.  It’s stunningly gorgeous, but we were weren’t allowed to take pictures of the inside.  I was most struck by the mosaic work on the floors, steps, railings and alters, and again by the fact that everyone seems to want to build cathedrals on big hills, thus making the construction process about 17 million times more difficult.

Then we trekked down the hill to lunch:

Montmartre steps

and along the way we spotted a bunch of street art by Fred Le Chevalier, with whom Jenn and Sarah are a little obsessed.  We’d been looking for the work all week, and we finally found it, and I’ll admit to a little scavanger-hunt type thrill when we did.

Fred Le Chevalier work

The highlight of lunch for me was drinking chocolat chaud FROM A BOWL, and then we headed back up the hill to the Musée de Montmartre to learn more about the Chat Noir, the famous nightclub, and the evolution of the art and bohemian life in the neighborhood.

Musee de Montrmartre

We had discovered a wonderful cheese shop earlier, and I had grand plans of buying dozens of wheels of vacuum packed goat cheese to bring home to my friends and colleagues, but apparently much of France closes after 3 hours of work on Sundays.  Bummer.  Then we strolled over the Moulin Rouge for the token photo – it was disappointing, as it’s now the center of the sex district.

I then dragged the girls over to the Louvre for the token photo of the giant plaza:

Louvre at night

and we took a final walk along the Seine before heading to Au Bouef Couronné for a huge and delicious beef meal.  We discovered that you can get drunk on wine AND beef, apparently.

And then it was back to the flat to pack and get ready for the trip home.  I’d rather not bore you with the prosaic details of the ridiculous waiting line at the check in counter, so I won’t.

We were in France for two whole weeks, the longest vacation of my life.  I didn’t want to come home, even though I was sleeping on a short, uncomfortable couch and I missed my dog.  More reflections on the trip later, I’m sure, but for now, merci mille fois if you have stuck with my blog entries this long; I hope you enjoyed the journey.

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