Thursday, March 8, 2012

Montmartre Revisited

Too often too much of a good thing isn't extra good.  That happened to the touristy parts of Montmartre years ago.  And as a result, I haven't been there since the 1980s.  OK, yes, I was a bit tempted by the film "Amélie" but apparently not much.

Since I've been living in Paris (I do love saying that, though only believing it in the same way that a student in Boston is "living" in Boston), I've heard from time to time people talking about the charming area north of Sacré Coeur.  "Charming" is always the word used.  

And then one evening, I had a meeting at a café in that neighborhood.  But it was dark, I was only there for an hour in a café that looked like any other, and the streets that I walked along appeared to be nothing special...except for the staircases - all over the place were stairs breaking up the streets, leading to parallel streets either below or above.  I knew I needed to come back when there was light and could finally see around me.

I recently did just that.
To get there, the thing to do is take the Métro to the Lamarck-Coulaincourt stop (but others nearby will do - Paris is really quite small and so walkable), and be sure to be wearing your most comfortable (and flat-heeled) shoes.  Between the stairs, the uneven surfaces, cobblestones and all that climbing, fashionable heels just aren't going to get you anywhere.
And just start wandering.  I can't even tell you exactly where these pictures were taken but I do know that I saw very few people, and even fewer tourists. 
The architecture is varied; there were even single-family homes with petite gardens.  It took me back to another time like other parts of Paris do not.
 And, of course, there are the famous Montmartre Vineyards.
 As well as the historic Lapin Agile Cabaret.
 And those stairs, so many stairs.
Do not, however, go there looking for (i) big time shopping (except for apartments - I must have walked past a real estate agency every other store-front), (ii) trendy anything, or (iii) loads of people.  This doesn't mean that you won't find a place or two or three to rest your weary feet and be able to enjoy a nice café or dessert while pondering your map or the newspaper. was my idea of the perfect sunny Friday afternoon.

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