On our second day in Paris (one hour ahead even than London), we woke up really late and it was noon before we got out the door. We've been so fortunate as to benefit from 8:30pm sunsets this time of year, though, leaving us with lots of sunny hours during which to sight-see. On this day we decided to tackle the bohemian quarter of Montmarte, home to the famous Moulin Rouge (red windmill), and Sacre Coeur, the basilica on the hill above.
Moulin Rouge is still one of my favorite movies, so I was really looking forward to seeing the windmill itself. If you haven't seen the movie, may I ask: what's the matter with you? Unfortunately, what we've heard many a time is true: it's not quite true to it's old form anymore. Neon lights, tacky signs, and, well, the fact that it's a functioning strip bar. Fun. Will requested a pose that expressed my dissatisfaction with the sight. Hopefully this does it.
That was that, so we headed up a street winding its way toward Montmarte. It was extremely warm that day, so the hill was less than desirable. The views were well worth-it, though.
As we made our way through Montmarte upward, Sacre Coeur appeared.
Joan of Arc
Not only is Sacre Coeur beautiful on the outside, the view from the tower provides a breathtaking panoramic view of all of Paris. I really do mean breath-taking - can you imagine the stair climb? I didn't take a picture from within the staircase, but the passageway did not sit well with my claustrophobia. It doesn't feel much wider than your shoulders and it winds so tightly that you can't see but a few stairs behind you and before you in the dim lighting. What's amazing about this landmark (and so many we've visited since) is the indentations of footsteps on the staircases. It has been traversed so many times that the stone has worn down in smooth undulating waves across the step. I've never seen that before, and it's kind of amazing when you think about how many people have walked there before you.
View from the top
One claustrophobic downward stair adventure later and a quick stop at the crypt below, we found ourselves in need of some less stagnant air. We made a quick stop for lunch at La Maison Rose and ventured out of Montmarte to the Rue des Martyrs, a long street lined with used book stores, butcher shops, and all kinds of curiosities.
One last view of Sacre Coer from below
Rue des Martyrs eventually led us to area around the Palais Garnier, Paris' former main opera house, and its most epic shopping experience, Galeries Lafayette. I was too tired to shop and too tired to care what anyone thought about me taking a picture in the store, so I snapped a quick shot and we took off, much to Will's delight.
More window shopping and dog stalking
I got to see a standard size poodle on a fashionable street in Paris - yes!
Heading back to Rue Bellechasse across the Siene
We went to dinner at L'Ambassade d'Auvergne because it had been recommended in numerous guides, but found it pretty forgettable. What was memorable, however, was getting lost in the Marais while Will looked for a place where he could watch the last snippet of a Chelsea game. We eventually found a little hole in the wall with the game on, and it was definitely a locals spot. An extremely inebriated Frenchman who did not speak a word of English tried to befriend us and was insistent on communicating something about "Oooh-bah-muuh" using indecipherable hand signals and continually showing us his voting record. We gave up trying to understand him and couldn't get him to go away until we took our picture with him.
It was nice to get lost and see a hopping neighborhood, stop for gelato and, in doing so, stalk more dogs.
Phew, what a day! Paris takes a lot out of you when you do it right!