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Montmartre & Sacre Coeur (weekly email 3 June 2015)

Emma and Jeremy joined Mike and I in Paris for the last few days of their trip to Europe. It was Jeremy’s first visit to Paris and of course he had a few things he really wanted to see. One morning we decided to take the morning off work and be tourists with them going up to Montmartre and Sacré Coeur. It’d been many years since we’d really had a good look around the area. Naturally we had to start the morning with a café au lait and croissant while we planned the route.

I think we chose the path involving the most walking uphill and the most number of steps. In fact by the end of the day Jeremy’s phone app told us that we’d climbed 42 floors of steps that day!! We caught the Metro as far as Pigalle, part way up Montmartre and from there started the climb to Abbesses, one of the last three remaining original Art Nouveau metro stations.

Montmartre, the highest hill in Paris, means the Mount of Martyrs. In the past many died for their faith on the hill and Saint Denis, patron saint of France and once Bishop of Paris, is said to have been decapitated here.       For most of us thinking about Montmartre we think its reputation for seedy clubs and bars and Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists. At the end of the 19th century places of entertainment and restaurants opened in the area because it was outside Paris city limits and therefore exempt from taxes. A restaurant beside the famous windmill Moulin de la Galette became the gathering place for artists.

We really enjoyed wandering all over the Butte Montmartre. Yes it’s full of tourists including lots of groups of school children. We stopped and took photos at the ‘I love you’ wall in Place des Abbesses. ‘I love you’ is written on 1000 ceramic tiles in 300 languages. You see tourists of lots of different nationalities trying to find their language.

After that it was up many many steps to the top of the hill with a stop to look at the windmill. In Place du Tertre we decided we didn’t need to have our portraits painted. We paused to look at Renoir’s famous vineyard which still produces about 500 litres of wine each year.

On the corner is the tiny cabaret Au Lapin Agile, a favourite of Modigliani and Picasso and the subject of many paintings. And finally we made it to Sacré Coeur and silently shuffled around the cathedral with everyone else.

We caught the funiculaire down the hill unlike most people who catch it up and walk down. We decided it was time for lunch. We headed for La Cigale nearby but a quick look at the menu told me that it had changed since my last visit. Uncertain where to go I realised that rue des Martyrs was close. It’s a great foodie street – full of small shops selling all sorts of yummy supplies. Amongst those places are several cafés. We didn’t actually make it down the street. Rather randomly, because we were feeling hungry after all the exercise and it was nearly 2pm when some places finish lunch, we chose the nearest place – Le Paprika Étterem. It turned out to be a very old-fashioned Hungarian bar and restaurant. From thinking that we’d have salads for lunch we ended up with the house speciality, veal goulash.

It was so delicious!! Very unexpected. Emma followed that with another house speciality – apple strudel. We all tried it. Again it was so good – light crispy pastry and perfectly cooked apples that were full of flavour. Definitely we’ll go back there.


Posted on: 3rd Jun, 2015by frenchie Latest News Weekly Email