Saturday, July 12, 2008

Paris: Day 16 - Montmartre

We had planned to head out to the Palace of Versailles today but we ended up not going. Luke was very fussy from the moment he woke up (and he did sleep through the night by the way, which was wonderful) so we put him down for a morning nap pronto. Luckily he had recovered two hours later when he woke up! It was almost 1:00pm by the time that he woke up and we thought that was a little late to head to Versailles so we decided to walk over to Montmartre.

We walked the whole way over there. We got kind of worried on the way because the clouds were looking dark but luckily the weather held out the whole time. We even had some sun and blue skies during our adventures. We decided to do the walking tour in our Rick Steve's travel book. The tour started at the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The basilica was intentionally built on Paris's highest point. It was built only a century ago, France's Catholics raised money to build this beauty as a "praise to the Lord anyway" gesture. They were convinced that they were being punished for the city's liberal sins after Parisians were humiliated by German invaders. During this time things got so bad for the residents that hunting and then cooking up the cats, dogs, and rats for dinner became acceptable behavior. It was neat to tour this basilica after all of the other tours that we have been on since coming here. The interior of this basilica was definitely a little more "modern" looking and the stained glass windows were so beautiful. Unfortunately we were not able to take any interior photos. There were quite a few people in the basilica praying in silence and lighting candles etc.

the Sacre-Coeur Basilica

Allison & Luke outside the basilica with the city in the background

Luke is more interested in the pigeons than the sights!

After leaving the basilica we went to the Church of St. Pierre, which is best known for being old. Some say Dante prayed here. Inside the church are four pillars that are believed to be Roman, probably from a temple of Mars or Mercury (thus the name Montmartre - Mount of Mars, although Parisians prefer Mount of Martyrs). Outside the church is the plaza that was the heart of the Bohemian movement. The Restaurant Mer Catherine is supposedly the first bistro, as it is said that Russian soldiers demanded of the waitresses, "I'm thirsty, bring my drink bistro (right away)." There were many artists and galleries in and around this square. Allison decided to get a ham-and-cheese crepe (which by the way means "pancake"), and then we both got ice cream.

Alli's crepe in-progress

Alli enjoying her crepe

some of the art in the plaza

the first bistro

From here we walked the streets of Montmartre to find various places. A boulangerie (bakery) and La Maison Rose Restaurant were two establishments made famous by a local artist. Picasso and Gertrude Stein ate at La Maison Rose Restaurant, although our tour book says now it serves lousy food! We then saw the Clos Montmartre Vineyard - the last vineyard in Paris. Continuing on our walk, we passed Renoir's house and found the statue of St. Denis holding his head in his hands. It is said that the Romans sentenced him to death for spreading Christianity, and he was to be executed at the top of the hill at Montmartre. However, the soldiers got tired and beheaded him on the way up. St. Denis then got up, picked up his head, and walked another 3 miles!

St. Denis holding his head

Alli and Luke on the streets of Montmartre

After this we found Picasso's studio, where he lived and painted his first work in what came to be known as cubism. We ended up at the Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill), and from there we made the trek home. Luke had fallen asleep by then, and he slept nearly the entire walk to our apartment.

Allison in front of Picasso's studio

the Moulin Rouge


Ruth said...

You guys will love Versailles when you get a chance to go. Personally, I recommend spending as much time outside as possible. The inside is cool and impressive and all, but the outside is simply amazingly gorgeous!

Guppy & the Worm said...

Sounds and looks like a very interesting walk today (yesterday). are in front of Molin Rouge and you don't go in (Phil)?
I hear they have the best Can-Can line in all of gay par-eee! Personally, I recommend spending as much time inside there as possible.

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