Montmartre

September 8th, 2005

Tuesday morning I linger in the apartment with pain au chocolat and Nescafe (mm mm) as I plot out my Metro route to get to Montmartre. I’m excited because my favorite film is Amelie, and also I hear that the panoramic view of Paris from Butte di Montmartre (Montmartre Hill) is pretty breathtaking. It’s pretty simple getting there. From where I am in the Latin Quarter, I just have to hop the #10 at Jussieu and switch to a #12 at Madeleine, and it’s very quick and straightforward. I get off at Place des Abbesses where I meet Felice.

We decide to meander up Rue des Abbesses which turns into Rue Lepic, and winds uphill – it’s a very quaint and quiet neighborhood and the further we wind up, the street gets cuter. I’m waiting to run into Amelie Poulain at any moment now. On the way up, we stop at a small shop with a fruit stand so Felice can buy a nectarine (the most incredible I’ve tasted yet) and I buy a bottle water and a bottle of wine. I say to the shop owner in French, “Water and wine – the most necessary things in life!” He laughs and says yes, it’s true.

We find ourself at Place de Tertre (sp?), a bustling square full of artists selling their creations. I’m low on blood sugar so we stop on a bench where I eat the salami and tomato I brought with me. We are very near the Salvador Dali’ museum and as Felice is a big fan, it’s fortunate that we are here. It costs 8 euros to get in and it’s worth every centime. There are several sculptures that include his sort of “signature”, a melting clock draped over a branch of the tree of life. It’s everywhere in his art… He seems to say that the relevance of time depends on each person’s life and how they themselves incorporate it. Clocks are a human invention, used to represent time – another human invention. I also particularly enjoy his depiction of Alice and Wonderland… always with her skipping rope and super feminine form…

After a couple of hours of Dali’, we decide it’s time for lunch. We stop at a creperie and I have a savory crepe with ham and cheese. Felice opts for a regular sandwish of the same sort. We remind ourselves a few times that “Wow. We’re eating sandwiches in Paris. Surrounded by Francophones…cool!” Next stop: Sacre Coeur. This basilica, surprisingly, isn’t much older than Saint James Cathedral in Seattle. This is where the view is, and where we’d like to sit outside and drink our wine (that I just bought this morning). I go into a bar and kindly ask the bartender to open the bottle for me, which he happily does. We realize that we don’t have glasses so I then stop at a souvenir shop (of which there are many) and buy two very cheesy glasses that say “PARIS” on them.

After marveling at the architecture outside of Sacre Coeur, We settle down on the stairs below the church. The view is indeed marvelous, but not necessarily beautiful. Still, there are no complaints here. We snap a few pictures and start on the wine. We remind ourselves that “Whoa – we’re on top of Paris drinking wine.” We watched the people, tourists and French alike, and talk about all sorts of things – men, Paris, Felice’s upcoming trip to Italy, as well as nothing. When we have had enough wine, we decide it might be nice to go inside of Sacre Couer and perhaps even climp to the top. Felice isn’t allowed in because her shoulders are not covered – All I can say is big flippin’ deal…I find this rule ludicrous: we’re human, God made us, and shoulders are merely what our arms hang from. I hardly consider them an offensive body part! I don’t have much patience at all for those who are afraid of the human body. So anyway, Felice tells me that I can go in without her so I can at least experience it, but I’d rather not go without her. I’m really enjoying getting to know her and I’m more excited about the view from where we are than I am about the inside of a church.

On the way down Rue Lepic, we stop at a cafe/bar and sit at a sidewalk table where I take a glass of muscat and she has juice. Two ladies who have been sitting at a nearby table approach us and ask where we are from. Turns out that they are from Montreal. We have fun comparing notes about Paris with them and eventually the server comes out and joins us. She says it’s so nice to see people meeting out in front of this bar, from different parts of the world. I’m still waiting for Amelie Poulain to appear.

Eventually we get back onto the Metro and decide it would be a great idea to visit Forum des Halles, a large (and I mean LARGE) undergroung shopping mall. We run into her friend Julie on the way and we all go together – well guess what I find – a huge H&M store. Woohoo (again)! I buy a purse, a cardigan, and another shirt. Felice buys jeans at another store – after some more walking we come across a Starbucks. I buy a bottle of water there and Felice gets a Frappucino. We laugh about having come all the way to France just to go to Starbucks.

We ascend to the sidewalk outside and are near the Louvre. It’s a nice afternoon/evening so the three of us opt to walk to Notre Dame from where we are. We make a few more stops in some wonderful clothing shops along the way, and when we’ve gotten near enought to Notre Dame, we stop at another restaurant with sidewalk tables for dinner. Again, I order duck breast. This time it’s served with a fig sauce and a couple of roasted figs. Heavenly! Some bums try to bother us at one point but the waiter, who seems to like us, yells at tham and scares them off for us. There is a free concert at 9:15 at Notre Dame and we’re all thinking it’s going to be a real concert, with a live choir, etc… so we’re all excited to get there. Turns out it’s not a concert at all (false advertising!!!), but a movie about the history of the cathedral – with recorded music. It’s very interesting but I’m annoyed that they had signs everywhere saying “Concert!”…

We part ways afterwards and I make my way back to the apartment, stopping at a phone box to call Stephen on the way. I spend the rest of the evening packing and get to bed just past midnight. I’m nervous the next morning about showing the owner that I broke her blinds, but when she shows up and I tell her, she shrugs her shoulders and says “oh well, that’s ok. Did you enjoy Paris?” She even gives me my 100 euro deposit back. I check with her on how to get to the airport via the metro and it’s incredible easy. (The only difficult part is carrying my now heavy suitcase down 7 flights of stairs!). I take the metro to a rail station (which takes maybe 5 minutes) and hop a train for a half-hour ride to the airport. I have immensely enjoyed Paris – I always love taking a peak into another world like that – but I’m definitely excited to get home to Seattle. Even though we have the worst public transportation in the world, there is no city quite like Seattle.

Entry Filed under: Paris

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