Monday, August 24, 2015

Visiting the 18th

It’s hard to pick just one thing that I loved most about my time in Paris. There are the little things that most Parisians probably take for granted—the long, meandering meals or the friendly greetings whenever you enter a shop; and there are the bigger things like the dozens of masterpiece-laden museums and historical landmarks. Now that I’m back in New York, I can’t help but wish for some of things in my day-to-day life. I’ve even taken to buying baguettes but, for whatever reason, they just aren’t the same as the ones I stuffed into my handbag while I was doing my tourist thing.

If there wasn’t one thing that I loved most, there was certainly an arrondissement that captured my heart. Montmartre, an arrondissement atop a hill by the same name, gave me a glimpse at the Paris I had expected to see on my visit. Quiet, sleepy streets with a boulangerie on one side of the street and a fromagerie on the other. You had the impression that everyone who lived there knew each other. There were no designer stores, no chain stores, just honest-to-goodness “mom and pop” shops, as we call them here.

Mom and I headed to Montmartre first thing in the morning on our last day in Paris. We—meaning I—had planned for us to climb the steps to the top but thought differently when we were standing at the bottom. Instead, we took the funicular which cost under 2 euros and saved us both a lot of panting.

Our first stop was Sacré-Cœur, the white-domed church that you can see from all over Paris. Maybe it’s because of the domes and the stonework, but the basilica felt exotic-looking to me in the midst of all the gothic architecture around Paris. It’s a gorgeous church though—and new in comparison to Notre Dame. It also didn’t feel touristy while we were there, much more like a parish church that is still used for weekly services. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside and there were no souvenir shops by the entrance (that I saw anyway). I kind of liked that about it though. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the top of the dome that day because it wasn’t open, but we did get some stunning views from the steps outside.

We took the morning to live as flâneurs, just strolling down the narrow, somewhat serpentine streets. I had a few things that I wanted to see—the two remaining moulins (windmills), Carre Roland Dorgeles (a little vineyard), and Place des Abbesses—but we were able to just take the sights in without watching the clock. I felt like I’d been transported to a different time. I felt somewhat out of place walking around with my iPhone and DSLR. The arrondissement is beautiful though with its ivy covered buildings and classic architecture. It’s no wonder so many of the great artists had studios or worked in and around the area. We had a delicious breakfast at a street café, hoping to prolong the experience just a little bit longer, and then I had a field day going from the boulangerie for a baguette to the fromagerie for cheese and then the charcuterie just out of curiosity (I don’t eat red meat or pork). And they were all on the same street, right next to each other! I have to say, I’m a fan of shopping for groceries that way instead of by going to a supermarket that sells everything. The quality just can’t be beat.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Montmartre without seeing the famed Moulin Rouge. You can still go and see shows there but, I have to say that the Moulin Rouge, in reality, doesn’t quite live up to its glitzy reputation. It was definitely a must-see, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Plus, the area surrounding it is much more touristy than the other areas in Montmartre that we visited. You know, plenty of those inexpensive souvenir shops, with mini-Eiffel Towers and things, spilling out onto the street.

I fell in love with Montmartre and, if I should ever be fortunate enough to live in Paris, I could see myself living quite comfortably up there. What I wouldn’t give to live in the studio that once belonged to Monet, Van Gogh, or Picasso! It’s the Paris I always envisioned.


  1. I am planning a day trip in Paris in October sometime with a friend and I know she wants to visit Montmartre - if only for the red windmill! Great photos and post :)

  2. Great place!!!! If you want, we can to follow each other on bloglovin! Just follow me here and I'll follow you back! ♥