In spite of dire predictions of sunshine and 30+ degree weather (am I the only person who wishes for overcast and rain on holiday?!?) it was overcast – but still 30 some degrees out. Good grief it’s hot! Anyway, I decided to try out my book – 24 Walks of Paris – since it wasn’t going to be sunny (I know, I know but I’m concerned about being a mass of scars in 20 years!).
I spent the day in Montmarte. I loved it. What a great area! Almost every street has at least one gallery or art shop. Ivy covered homes all over the area. A vineyard right in the middle of Paris! The whole area used to be vineyards though apparently the wine made from these grapes is now undrinkable they still have a festival every October (good excuse for a party!).
I started off at Sacre Coeur. The book suggested the tram up the hill but I took the steps. I recommend the tram.
On the way up there was a group of young men blocking my way. They were intimidating as they no doubt meant to be. They were trying to sell (something – junk? Who knows?) and harassing people as they walked by. I’m not talking the typical “Madamoseille!” or asking if you wanted to buy something or shouting out their items or prices (typical in Paris, Rome,etc.). This was actual harassment. They would block your way and three or four men would surround you and not let you walk around or away. I tried to be polite “Non, monsieur, merci.” Several times but they kept at it. Then one of them TOUCHED me. I gave him “The Look” – the one all teachers have – mothers too. It’s the same look I give six year old as they are about to eat the booger they just picked, cut their hair or a classmates, stab a pencil into someone’s ear or pull the person in front of them hair during Mass. Also effective with 15 year olds before they swear, talk about their sex life, light something on fire or punch someone. Then I used “The Tone” (see above) and said, “Monsieur, tu ne touché pas, s’il vous plait.”
They let me pass. Whew.
Inside the church, it’s made clear that it is a constant place of worship – no pictures, no noises. Respect for the praying people. It’s a beautiful church. I realized the other day that I didn’t bring my rosary beads so I quickly purchased a lovely wooden set and went to a pew and did a full five decades. My knees were sore but then I saw the 98 if she was a day year old woman beside me with her knees wrapped. The kneelers are straight wood – no padding like back home! She was there forever so I’m pretty sure she was doing a full Mystery (five rosaries) so I quit my silent complaining!
After, I sat and reflected and enjoyed the atmosphere. Sister, in full habit, was arranging the flower displays on the altar. She had a great eye and did a beautiful job, occasionally stepping back and adjusting a stem here and there.
An Indian girl – about 20- did something I’ve never seen before. She started her rosary at the back of the church and as she said it (silently but her lips were moving) she moved – shuffled really –on her knees to the altar. She left her shoes at the entrance. When she was done, she walked back, genuflected and left.
After Sacre Coeur, I went to Place du Tertre. It’s a square full of artists with their booths. The silhouette originate after an artist who worked in the area and used that technique (it was named for him, his last name was Silhouette). I think I’ll be going back here! Many of the artist shout to you or if they catch your eye, try to sell to you (they need to make a living too). But there was this one man, in his 60’s I’d guess. He was leaning back in his chair, watching people from lowered lids. His attitude was very “buy my paintings if you want, if you don’t, your loss”. His arms were crossed over his large chest and legs were crossed at the ankle in front of him. As I walked by, I smiled and said “Bonjour” (I felt safe he wouldn’t suddenly jump up and ask if I wanted to buy). Then he opened his eyes wide, smiled a half smile and winked at me! It made my day! I wanted to laugh out loud but I didn’t want him to mistake my intent so I just smiled wider in return.
I went through tons of Montmarte; the museum, the water tower, the vineyard,Picasso’s house (I felt like a groupie!). There’s quite a few infamous caberets, cafes and bars in the area that famous artist used to frequent. One in particular “Lapin Agile” is located at the bottom of a hill and the walk around it is uneven, cobblestoned, steep and altogether dangerous. I kept thinking of drunken Picasso and Mogdiliano stumbling after a show in the dark and am amazed they didn’t die. With a heel…a broken ankle would be the least of their worries!
Across from St. Jean du Montmarte (another church but this time in the Art Nouveau style) is the Place des Abbesses. There was a very good jazz trio playing there. I stopped and had lunch while listening to them play. They were great! There’s a wee garden there and in it a wall with “I love you” in 331 languages. How fitting.
Then I wandered to the Moulin Rouge – people everywhere! It was so hot but a bunch of teenagers on a tour quickly discovered the metro grate gave out air (albeit hot air) and stood on it and let their hair fly up. Then their teacher got on top and would drop water slowly from his bottle and the droplets would fly upward until they evaporated. Even tres cool Euro teens can quickly turn into six year olds with a jar of bubbles….