When I went to bed last night, I had every intention of waking up early and seeing the Musée d’Orsay first thing. I dressed comfortably, grabbed my bag, and made sure I had everything I would need for the day, only to find out that all of the museums are closed on Mondays. Luckily, I had a backup plan, and so set in motion my day out at Montmartre.
I should first point out how proud I am of myself that I figured out how to make it to my destination. Montmartre is by no means close to where I am staying, so my handy IPhone application would be essential for my adventure. I made my way to the closest Metro station and plugged in the destination, which I acquired from a Paris travel book. Though Montmartre is not close to my area, it is on a direct line, so I wouldn’t have to get off and change trains. 11 stops later, I climbed 7 flights of stairs and emerged into the brisk, fall air, slightly out of breath. Directly in front of me I noticed a rundown carousel, and the park to my right looked a bit dilapidated, so I was a little worried that the excursion wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I tried to refer to a “walking guide” map in my Paris travel book, but that proved to be less than helpful, so I set off with no clear direction and the determination to hit every landmark, even if it took all day.
My first “accidental” discovery was the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur; an incredible, massive, intricate, white-domed structure that sits overlooking Paris. I ascended, yet again, many flights of stairs to get up to the Basilica. The building itself is impressive, but then you are also treated to the breathtaking view of the city beyond. I noticed many English-speakers around me, as it is a high tourist area. This, unfortunately, adds to the amount of street “vendors” who approach you, won’t let you pass, and try to sell you whatever it is they have. I was harassed by one particular man, who kept telling me how beautiful I was and how much he wanted to make me a bracelet. He insisted on trailing me and wouldn’t leave me alone! At that point I had been approached by enough of these types of people that I bluntly told him to “get the hell away from me.” It is worth it to put up with these scammers, though, because this area of town is definitely a must-see.
I then took a break and enjoyed lunch at a cafe with my book in hand. It was nice to sit quietly, immersed in a book, enjoying a beer. And then the food! It was time to order a French favorite, so I decided on a croque madame. This blessed creation is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, topped with more melted cheese and a fried egg; served with a side of fries and some ketchup and you are looking at one happy girl! I ate almost every bite, and then had to sit a little longer before walking again because I was so full!
My main reason for heading to Montmartre was not yet fulfilled, though. The Moulin Rouge was calling my name, and I had a hunger to find it. I made my way in the direction I thought it would be, happily stumbling into the Cimetiere Montmartre (graveyard). I have never seen a graveyard quite like this. It consisted of all above-ground tombs and graves. I poked around for a little while, but was antsy to get to Moulin Rouge – which I did just 5 minutes later. Unfortunately, it is not as impressive during the day, or how it probably was back in its prime. It does still have the trademark red windmill and when I looked at the advertisements in the entrance hall, it seems as though they have kept the spirit of the show; bedazzled women in extravagant costumes, most of which are topless, with a master emcee, and, of course, the traditional French Cancan. At some point in my lifetime, I would love nothing more than to make it to a show. Just standing outside the famous doors and feeling the presence of the landmark gave me chills.
I felt like my trip was a success, and made my way back to the Metro. I stopped briefly to check out a market filled with painters showcasing their work. Montmartre is known for its art and bohemian lifestyle (Picasso lived there) so it would’ve been wrong to pass without a peek. I was exhausted when I got back to my area of town, but not enough to skip dinner. 🙂 I enjoyed the most succulent and well-seasoned roast of chicken I’ve ever had with a plentiful side of green beans. Add to it a “carafe” of red wine, a Bordeaux to be precise, and I made my way home feeling full and content. I am not disappointed the museums were closed today. I know I will get in either tomorrow or Wednesday, and it gave me the opportunity to see a neat and interesting side of Paris.
This leaves me with just one important question, in the spirit of The Moulin Rouge: can you Cancan like I can???