Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Montmartre and Dinner

After the performance, we took the bus over to Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, which is one of the more amazing areas of Paris. This is artist's alley, with dozens and dozens of roaming artists who walk around and do quick sketches of tourists. There is so much awesome in this particular area, that it is really hard to explain in words. However, as your intrepid narrator, I shall endeavor.

First, you need to go up a couple hundred stairs (or ride an incline car) up the side of the hill to get to the top. I'm fairly certain that this is one of - if not the - highest areas in Paris, and the view from the top is extraordinary. It will absolutely take your breath away. The city stretches into infinity in front of you, the cream-colored majesty that is the city of Paris. The great landmarks - the Arc d'Triumphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, etc - are framed by the offices and homes and apartments of the residents. People gathered on the hillside, sitting with drinks and picnics and their loved ones, just to sit and take in the view.

The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur is a beautiful work of art. The carvings on the outside walls, the carvings and statuary inside, are extraordinary. Unlike the other cathedrals where we've toured, this one has a man stationed inside who will hush you. Photography is not allowed, but you can buy postcards in the gift shop if you want to take the images with you. The chapels inside were also elaborate and beautiful. You walk the path that is outlined, clockwise from 6 o'clock (where you start) around the whole shape of the building. Apparently, there are catacombs underneath that you can explore, but they didn't have a pamphlet or map or something like that. Barb and Jim went down there, but they came back up relatively quickly because they didn't know what they were viewing.

Around this area, there is ART. There are street performers singing and playing instruments. There was a Mary Poppins-looking accordion player that was a particular favorite of Katie's. Every other boutique was an art dealer: either selling their own paintings or other people's paintings. Wandering the streets are random people who are looking to create art for you: drawing your picture, or your significant other's picture, or creating paper sculptures with scissors. They're pretty aggressive, too. If you say no, they will appeal to how happy it will make your girlfriend... then tell you that they'll draw it and accept payment only if you like it. Of course, at that point, you feel an obligation to pay for it, so.... there you go. Your own artwork.

We had gelato, and it was wonderful. The neat thing is that they had a small size cone, right around the size of an actual single scoop serving on the package of the ice cream. All I usually want is a small size, a taste; I don't need the normal American portion of huge.

Portion sized in France, in general, are about half of the size of American portions, and I love it. I love eating rich and delicious food, but not feeling overfull and gross afterwards. It really makes sense as to why French people are skinny like they are; a lot of walking around the city and reasonable portion sizes. I have not seen the normal assortment of over large individuals walking around, like you do in America.

After some more walking around and shopping through souvenir stores, we took a seat in a small cafe, sitting outside and enjoying an espresso and a glass of wine (I had the espresso). We just sat for a half hour or so and watched the people walk around; watched the people, looked at the fashion, watched the street performers work, watched the artists across the way paint and sell. I did a little bit of writing while I was there.


Dinner was at Noces de Jeannette, a restaurant. It was beef Burgandy, a potato pancake, a salad, and some chicken pâté. I had a glass of the house red wine, generously donated by our own Jean!!!! The whole thing was delicious. I really believe that this might he have been the best meal that we've had all week. The dining room in which we ate was sumptuously decorated and beautiful, with mirrored walls and deep colors.

Right now, we're heading back to the hotel for the night. No more planned activities, although I'm sure we are going to find a nice place to go.


We went walking after we all gathered back at the hotel and changed clothes. We found a little pub called "Indiana," about three blocks from the hotel. Eight of us sat around a few small tables and just chatted for an hour or so. It was nice. It was also interesting that a half carafe of wine wound up costing us less than anybody else's drinks, so Molly and I drank cheap. I love France!

We sang a few songs, and people seemed to like all of them except the last song we sang, which was Send Your Love. Katie decided that was overstaying our welcome...

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