I got inspired to blog about our France trip when I learned that my favorite musical is preparing a big production in Paris next month. I’ve been obsessing with The Phantom of the Opera lately. Heck I even tweeted my favorite phantom and almost died when I got a reply. My heart is dying to see the French production, but we can’t be there. Unless, a miracle happens. (And in case you missed it, I already blogged about Opera Garnier, the actual setting of The Phantom of the Opera.) Anywaaaay, back to Paris trip. Let me start with one of the pretty districts in the City of Lights – the cobbled and hilly Montmartre!
Montmartre is situated on a hill and is one of the many romantic spots in the city. Well, I couldn’t be a good judge to that coz we visited a day after the ex-boyfriend husband proposed. Every corner in Paris seemed romantic to me at that time!
From our apartment in 15th Arr., we took the metro to Blanche, from which we emerged to a street across the red windmill of Moulin Rouge. I bet we’re not the only ones who blurted voulez-vous coucher avec moir ce soir upon seeing the cabaret. After which I switched to singing, “The hills are aliiiive… with the sound of music…” ala Ewan McGregor. If you know the film Moulin Rouge, then you know what I’m saying.
This section of Pigalle is known for adult shows and sex shops one after the other. They’re everywhere and one cannot un-see! In fact, there’s even a museum called Musee de l’Erotisme. We both know what it is so let’s not get there. And no, we didn’t pay a visit!
From here, we started our way up the hill, passing by impressive buildings, shops and charming cafés. Speaking of café, we spotted Café des Deux Moulins, where the fictional Amelie works.
We reached Sacré-Cœur, the imposing white basilica dominating Montmartre. Not only is it huge but it’s also located on top of the hill. There’s no fee to enter but since it’s a highly visited tourist landmark, photography isn’t allowed inside to keep the sacredness of the space. The interiors of the basilica are just as gorgeous as it is from the outside. The details are overwhelming as most of the churches in this side of the world are.
Much as we wanted to climb the dome, we shook off the idea coz our jelly legs haven’t fully recovered from climbing another church in Strasbourg, just two days ago. We’re sure the panorama from up there is great but the view from the steps at the foot of Sacré-Cœur wasn’t so bad at all.
Our route continued to the side streets near the basilica – lined with shops selling art and souvenirs, a couple of cafés and some small restaurants. These lanes get very crowded especially when we reached Place du Tertre.
It’s probably the most touristy area in Montmartre. Artists fill the plaza, their easels and artworks at the sides. It’s a sight to behold! You can get yourself drawn/painted for a few euros. Aside from painters and caricaturists, there are also a couple of artists who make paper cuts of your silhouette. I’d love to get one but they’re quite pushy so yeah, they lost a customer in us.
In one of the quiet streets is Espace Dali, a museum of over 300 original artworks of Salvador Dali. Dali is a Spanish artist known for his surrealist style in art – be it painting or sculpture – and his iconic mustache. I find his works deep and at times, mind bending.
Back to the busy Rue Norvins, we ran into Le Passe-muraille statue. A local short story inspired this intriguing sculpture. The plot is basically about… a man who walks through walls…
Then, there’s a gate that leads to a small park. We saw a couple of moms taking their kids there and our curiosity led us to checking it out as well. The square is called Place Suzanne Buisson and is home to a statue of the headless Saint Denis (there’s a lot of him around town).
Off to Rue de l’Abreuvoir and we had a nice view of the pretty houses with the dome of the basilica at the background. The steepness of a typical Montmartre street is very visible from this side.
On our way back to Sacré-Cœur, we passed by Clos Montmartre, a small vineyard. It looks dry and lonely coz it’s not the harvest season.
We stumbled upon a fashion shoot going on in Rue du Mont Cenis. It’s entertaining to watch – to see the model get dolled up and how she effortlessly strikes a pose. Ahhh, French ladies are so fine!
Before we know it, we’re back at the shadows of Sacré-Cœur. We found our way down to Blanche and bade Montmartre au revoir.