06 June 2011

Montmartre and the Pigalle

Montmartre means "mount of the martyrs" as St Denis was decapitated here by the Romans in AD250.
The Parisians call it the Butte ( hill ) as it is the highest point in the city at 130 metres. Yes, there is a great view, but with so many tourists crowding every corner, I don't recommend it is on your "must do" list.  The once pleasant and picturesque Place du Tertre, where artists paint predictable portraits and cookie cutter scenes, has now lost its charm and is actually quite unbearable.

The much photographed Sacre Coeur was built as a memorial to the 58,000 French soldiers killed in the Franco-Prussian war ( 1870-71 ) and took 46 years to build. The interior is much less ornate, but attracts many wishing to pray and pay homage.
There are over 200 steps to the cathedral, or you can catch the funicular or a petit train.

This cafe was a haunt of the artists, Cezanne, Degas and Toulouse Lautrec to name a few. The entire area must have been so interesting then, but guess that's the downside to tourism.

A tiny piece of peace !
Montmartre was once a wine region of France and supposedly matched the quality of Bordeaux and Burgundy. There were 20, 000 hectares of vines in the mid 18th century but today there are just 2, 000 vines yielding 1, 000 bottles annually. These are sold for charity. 

"Au Lapin Agile" ( the nimble rabbit ) is a famous "belle epoque"restaurant and cabaret and was a popular hangout for Renoir, Picasso and various French poets. We had planned to spend an evening listening to French music, but decided to leave it to the tourists ( of course we consider ourselves locals now. ) Just joking of course Joyce !

Don't you love this line of chimney pots ?

This Montmartre baker won the best baguette competition for 2011. The award is considered most prestigious with prize money of 4, 000 euros and the honour of baking the daily bread for the President of France for the next year. I wonder if  Carla Bruni actually eats bread ?

I carried one of his prize winning baguettes all the way back on the bus to eat with our evening meal, but we were not sure if it tasted any different to our local boulangerie's excellent efforts ...

A strong Australian influence at the Kooka Boora Cafe - I even noticed a jar of vegemite behind the counter ! This is supposed to be where to enjoy one of the better cups of coffee in Paris. Ironic really in a city that has 7, 000 cafes. In the 1880's Paris supposedly had 45, 000 cafes !!

The small fruit and vegetable shops are so colourful and appealing - plus we can buy a whole kilo of cerises ( cherries ) for 5 euros and today at a street market they were a complete bargain at 2 euros.
We are eating them now !

Sarah, this was the cafe I needed when I had the shop !! ( in joke )

Red geraniums all over the prettier parts of the Pigalle - wish I could grow such healthy plants

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