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Friday, July 24, 2009

Montmartre

As I was nearing the end of my visit, I couldn't help but think of Edith Piaf, the Pigalle, the artists of Montmartre and Moulin Rouge -- all things I'd heard about but not yet seen.

Montmartre had been on my list to visit, partly because of its artist's area (the quintessential Paris image for me -- the street artist!), Sacre Coeur and its fabulous view.

So, on Wednesday evening, we headed up to this area, picnic in hand.

One arrives at Montmartre via Metro and then a small cab called the Funiculaire, which boosts you up the rest of the very steep hill. (You can walk. Yes, you can.) -- that's the stop, under the canopy below.

That takes you to the steps of Sacre Coeur, which is a handsome cathedral and one I'd seen from afar.

Sacre Coeur was the only church I visited where one couldn't photograph inside. But its exteriors, particularly in the early evening light, were stunning enough.

Sacre Coeur was started in 1875, but not complete until 1914. When you see this massive structure, high on Montmartre, you can see why.

Although this was the only church where photos weren’t allowed, one should know has glorious features – one of those “takes your breath away” spaces, but in a darker, more cavernous way than the delicate Sainte Chappelle. The doors are heavy bronze and the exterior includes a statue of Joan of Arc and Saint Louis by H. Lefebere.

After visiting the church, we stopped at St. Pierre next door (a lovely tower)...

Then it was off to the Place du Tertre, a square around which are caf├ęs, restaurants, and many artists, both working and selling their wares.
When I think of Paris, this is what I think of. Perhaps less contrived – more like “an artist here, an artist there” (more like my experience at Jardin du Luxembourg). But this will do!

My guide book says “tertre” is hillock or mound, and this square, at the highest point in Paris, is well named. Artists began exhibiting paintings here in the 19th century.
Now, you find them painting portraits (no doubt at extraordinary prices), doing caricatures and selling their wares.

Some were very nice – both Jerry and I enjoyed the scenic Paris this more abstract artist captured.

And I also loved the sepia and white acrylics, again of Parisian scenes.

It was here, at Chez Eugene, that we found a kindly waiter who opened our bottle of wine, since our corkscrew was at home! Our picnic was on the steps of Sacre Coeur, overlooking the city.
It was particlarly lovely as the sun began to dip and the shadows lengthened.

And of course the juggler added some entertainment value...

...as if people watching wasn't enough! We could see the Pompidou Museum several blocks from Jerry's apartment, as well as the Eifel Tower, Notre Dame and other landmarks.

After our picnic, we walked down the hill – We passed by a restaurant called Au Lapin Agile, which has a long history as an artist’s hangout….

We also passed the Moulin de la Galette, a restaurant upon which remained one of the only two original windmills on Montmartre (used for grinding wheat and pressing grapes).

The windmill was also once a dance hall, which inspired this Renoir painting, "Bal du Moulin de la Galette" in 1876.
Then down the hill some more ....

Where we encountered my favorite sign...

And then some more...

Past some lovely buildings, cafes, and shops...

When we got to the bottom, it was nearly dark. It was there we saw the bright lights of a different Moulin (windmill) – the famed Moulin Rouge, where they do old Paris Vegas-style.

I also loved the Metro signs, often seeking out these deco-styled ones -- only a few remain in Paris. It seemed quite appropriate that one should be in this area.

My take on this area? Great view, and I'm glad we went -- it was fun to picnic, see the artists, and the beautiful Sacre Coeur. While we we didn't visit the Dali museum, which I would have enjoyed, Montmartre was picturesque, a pretty hopping place.
But I wouldn't need to go back. Except maybe to shoot more photos of those Metro signs! And, if you're visiting for only a brief time (I was lucky -- I had nearly two weeks), you may want to pass it up for other spots, although the price was right! Free!

Things I Learned Today:

I never knew about this funiclaire thing! That was kind of fun!

The original Paris Metro signs are absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see several – particularly in this very old district.

My idea of Paris is not this decade. It’s probably 1930s through 1970s – with a bit of the late 1800s thrown in. I love the Paris I see, but I’m periodically adjusting my expectations!

My "audio soundtrack" of Paris doesn't apply anymore. I'm not hearing Piaffy-type singers, or concertinas, or music you expect to hear from a French film of the 70s or an Audrey Hepburn flick. I shouldn't be surprised about this -- that's vintage. I guess I am, too. The music I hear everywhere (not just Montmartre) is pretty much the same as I hear in the States -- but in French...
You can literally see for miles from Montmartre and the view is lovely.
In Paris, no one seems to care if you have open wine bottles or picnic on the street -- or church steps.
One becomes spoiled being allowed to take photos everywhere and when they say you can't, one is taken aback! At least, this one was!

11 comments:

ols1 said...

You learned a lot in one day - what a wonderful experience. I loved the exterior of Sacre Coeur too. I would have loved the artist district - I just love people watching and could spend way too much time doing it. I loved the sepia photos - that is how I imagine Paris so I must have a view through rose coloured glasses too :)

anno said...

What a great walk (and, yes, I remember that hike -- straight up, isn't it)! Spectacular view(s), though make it all worthwhile, right? Sounds like had a wonderful time, too.

Jane Rosemont said...

OK, that's it. I'm going next May.

~*~Magpie's Nest said...

Another fantastic leg of your Paris journey Jeanie! So wonderful! I have the nicest memory of a tiny cafe with fresh peonies in vases, strolling the streets and looking up to have Sacre Coeur take my breath away! That was so many years ago, thanks so much for sharing your travels!
oxo ~*~ Patty

joyce said...

I'm not much for art, but buying a painting done on the streets of Paris would catch my interest!
And I would've taken the cab up that hill too!

Robin bird said...

before i go off on something else i must say how much i love the sepia paintings of Paris. stunning from afar and i would guess even better in person. Paris in person must have been heaven...even if it was an adjusted view of heaven. The real heaven is most likely that too...don't you think? not all it is cracked up to be but fantastic none-the-less?

All those old cathedrals and buildings.... i would love to see them! i was excited by San Francisco but this! and you have done such an admirable job of giving us a photographic journey. nice camera work girl! i can see by your older posts that you must have had thousands photographs to sort through! i would have too with all the interesting things and people to see! how are you managing to sort it all?!? see my mind goes to overwhelm so easily..these aren't even my pictures ;)
I hope you can write an unphotographable post as i am sure your imagery through words will be wonderful! i know they are because you already do this all the time on your blog :)
XOXOX

Beth Leintz said...

I've so enjoyed your trip to Paris-almost like being there- and much better than any guide book.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Jeanie, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your Paris posts! Ah, though I agree with you about the Montmartre area being too touristy, it does have breathtaking views. I get so nostalgic!

Pam Aries said...

Be still, my beating heart! I am loving Montmartre and I thank you s o much for posting all the wonderful photos. It is my dream to be in Paris! Merci, Jeanie!

Relyn said...

Those sepia paintings of Paris were incredible. Almost as wonderful as your image of the Moulin Rouge and your wonderfully descriptive posts. You, my friend, are a marvelous traveler. I really like the What I Learned Today part of your posts. After all, that's really why we travel isn't it? To learn things and to have our assumptions challenged? Show me more. More. More, please.

jet1960 said...

What an amazing experience you had!How cool to see artist's painting in Paris. I'm catching up right now on your blog or will try to while at Emily's(they have high speed internet). Down visiting her for a few days after finishing up a work week.

Thanks for your comments about Thomas.

I plan to make a grape conserve with walnuts. Last time I made a lot of jam and only one batch of the conserve since it is harder to do. We ate the conserve up in no time. I've not had time to do them yet. Tried putting the grapes up in the freezer until I have more time.

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