Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The plan for our last day in Paris is to take the Metro to visit the white-domed Basilica of the Sacre-Couer at the top of Montmartre. We exit at the Jules Joffrin Station and begin our uphill walk on Rue du Mont Cenis; this street has many tall residential buildings with a mixture of small retail shops, local markets, restaurants and cafes on its lower level.
At the intersection with Rue Custine and Rue Francouer, we continue up a series of stone steps to Rue Lamarck.
We stay on Rue du Mont Cenis; the street becomes a narrow cobble stone alley up to the next flight of steps to Rue Saint-Vincent. The city views are fabulous!
We continue to wind our way up the cobbled street with views of the basilica towers and arrive at the summit on the north end of the Sacre-Coeur. The hill of Montmartre rises 129 meters above sea-level.
Rue de Chevalier de la Barre leads us around to the front side of Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre/Sacre-Couer. For the holidays, they have a Christmas Village set up along the basilica with lots of hand crafted items and a variety of foods.
The Church of Saint Pierre de Montmartre quietly sits beneath the silhouette of the Sacre-Couer; it’s one of the oldest churches in Paris. The white stone building next store is the Reservoir de Montmartre; a water tower built in 1889.
From the famous steps at the hilltop Basilica of Sacre-Couer, you can take in the panoramic views of the entire city!
The steps leading out to the open plaza below is a great place to sit and soak up some sun, take in the gorgeous views or listen to the music of the street performers.
Rue Azais leads us down from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to Place du Tertre; a small square where street artists set up their easels daily for the throngs of tourist coming through. Look no further-this is the place to have your portrait drawn or sit at one of the many cafes that line every corner of the square.
We continue walking around Place du Tertre to the Espace Dali on Rue Poulbot; a museum with a permanent exhibition of Salvador Dali’s sculptures and engravings. Bits of graffiti can be seen around some of the surrounding buildings.
This is where Sister #10 and I split up from Sisters #2 & #3, they want to check out more museums and we want to go visit Notre Dame.
Sister #10 and I make our way down the narrow cobbled alley on Rue Poulbot; it’s a charming old village street with many little cafes, restaurants and beautiful apartment homes.
Clos Montmartre on Rue des Saules is a rare find in an urban area; this tiny patch of vineyards dates from 1932 and has a surface of 1556 square meters. While walking down the cobbled street, we see the white engine and open cabooses of the Petit Train de Montmartre pass us by-it’s really cute!
Rue Saint-Vincent is another narrow cobble stone alley; it runs along the south end of the Saint-Vincent Cemetery. This street leads us down the steps on Rue Pierre Dac to Rue de la Fontaine du But.
On Rue du Ruisseao, we see two tents that are strategically placed over the underground steam vents on a triangular median with nobody bothering then at all-great way to stay warm!
We stop at Café d’Albert for lunch; it’s a restaurant, bar and café with very reasonable prices. We both noticed that the TV channel was on some show highlighting nothing but 80’s rock bands or maybe it was a DVD? I have to have my vegetables; it’s a nicoise salad for me and a tomato & mozzarella salad for Sister #10.
We return to the Jules Joffrin Metro Station with hopes of taking the rail back to Paris but we couldn’t figure out how to use the ticket machine. After numerous tries and no help from the station agent, we decide to take the bus.
We hopped on bus #85 and it took us to the north end of the line at Mairie de Saint-Quen-a pretty dicey part of town-not Paris! On the bus ride, we both saw an Office de Tourisme on Ave Gabriel Peri. We got off the bus and walked three blocks down to get some directions. Of course we took the bus going in the wrong direction! We were told to go back to the end of the line at Mairie de Saint-Quen and take bus #85 heading south. It’s a nice way to see the outer limits of Paris without having to walk through the edgier neighborhoods. The bus fare is 1.70 euros and it’s about an hour ride to the south end of the line at St Michel.
From St Michel, we cross over the Seine River at Pont d’Arcole to Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame is located on Ile de la Cite; a natural island in the Seine.
We continue on Rue d’Arcole; this street has many souvenir shops, cafes and bakeries.
The street leads us to the giant Christmas tree at the open plaza of the French Gothic styled Notre Dame Cathedral. Admission into the Catholic cathedral is free; photos are allowed with no flash. I didn’t take any photos; my camera takes horrible indoor shots especially with dim lighting. The overall feeling I felt once I stepped through the doors was an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. I’m not a religious person at all, but after walking through the cathedral, I bought a very small wooden rosary as a little souvenir. I attached it to my camera strap.
Sister #10 is looking for little stocking stuffers for her children, so we return along Rue d’Arcole and hit some of the souvenir shops. We also stopped at Hure-a French Boulangerie with a wide assortment of baked goods. We picked up a large Palmier and a savory olive twist.
We return to the plaza at Notre Dame and everything is lit up from the Christmas tree to the cathedral itself-beautiful!
We cross the river on Petit Pont-Cardinal Lustiger and walk through The Latin Quarter on the left bank of the Seine. This is one of the oldest upscale neighborhoods in Paris with historical cafes and brasseries.
Rue de la Huchette; a cobble stone pedestrian only alley is one of the oldest streets along the Seine; it has the highest concentrations of restaurants and cafes with many Greek specialties.
Rue de la Harpe is another cobble stone pedestrian only alley with more cafes, bakeries, chocolate shops and local markets. We stopped at Sud Tunisien for a sweet fried snack; the Chinese have a very similar food item. This will be a part of our dinner for tonight.
From Bd Saint-Michel, we make our way back to the apartment on Boulevard Saint Germain to Rue de Sevres and Bd des Invalides.
We have another easy dinner with the baked goods we bought today and more fruits and vegetables.
It was another great day walking the city streets of Monmartre and paying a visit to Notre Dame. The Latin Quarter was a very happening place to be with lots of places to eat and plenty of other things to do.
Tomorrow we’re off to an early start for a train ride into Brussels, Belgium.