Sunday, November 1, 2009

Things to Do in Paris - Montmartre

Montmartre - the 18th arrondissement - situated at the top of Paris, is the most picturesque and quaint feeling neighborhoods of Paris. Well known from movies like Amelie and Moulin Rouge - it's a great place to visit in the early evening.
The name Montmartre means "Mountain of the Martyr" which was chosen because of the martyrdom of Saint- Denis who was decapitated on this hill. He is the patron saint of France and was the Bishop of Paris at the time of his death (250 ADish).

I would recommend starting at the bottom of the hill and walking up towards the Sacre Coeur. If you get off at Place de Clichy there is a great Creperie on the corner that has a wide array of options that aren't standard like nutella + bananas + chantilly (whipped cream) or egg + cheese + mushroom, tomato or meat.

Make your way up to the Moulin Rouge if you are so inclined. It's something that everyone wants to see but honestly it's been updated to the point where it just looks like a prop casino from Vegas - not mysterious or romantic like the movie Moulin Rouge would have you believe.

But, if you walk around the corner you will be pleased to find several old wooden moulins on the hill - one of which was turned into a restaurant.

An old painting of the area that still really depicts what you will see.

Wind your way up the steep little roads.

And see first-hand where the paintings were inspired.

The climb up the hill is long and hard on the glutes but you will be rewarded! The Sacre Coeur waits at the top of the hill, and if you get there at sunset you will have the best possible view of Paris. Entrance inside the church is free but unfortunately you can't take pictures. Inside above the alter is a huge beautiful mural that is not to be missed.

Pay the 5 Euros to go up in the dome, you won't be dissapointed and if it's sunset you wont be too overcrowded. Be warned though- the steps are narrow and long to get up - if you are claustriphobic or just lazy - this will be difficult.

View from part way up

At the top!

See some goyles up close!

Then if you get hungers...

You could pop over to Chez La Mere Catherine (6, Place du Tertre) for some traditional French eats with several veggie options!

Check out their menu here. They get a lot of tourists so under each item the dish is translated into English.

For an appetizer Ryan and I split the goat cheese and tomato (millefeuille de chevre et tomates), served with fresh bread. We had a momentary scare where we thought there was salmon tucked into the cheese and Ryan even thought he smelled it - but we were just spazzing over nothing because the waitress assured me it was tomato and once we tried it we found we had been silly. He got the fettucine with fresh tomato basil. I had the Zucchini and Tomato Gratin which came with a really nice cream sauce. I forgot to take a picture before I started eating so here is a picture of some half eaten glop!

I thought for the location and the atmosphere that this restaurant was really a pretty good deal. I think it was like 35ish Euros for an app and two dishes. Service was fast and friendly enough. Food could have had just a touch more seasoning to it - but that could just be me.

Dessert is cheaper on the street. Snag a chocolate crepe or some gelato and walk off that dinner while you pile on more calories. The shops here are really quite cute as well. Touristy things for sure but you gotta get postcards somewhere right?

Other things to see in Montemartre that I haven't yet but someday will - the merry-go-round at the bottom of the hill and the restaurant where Amelie worked in the movie.

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