Our first full day in Paris, we tackled Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. I didn’t get to explore this area at all my first time in Paris, and we easily spent an entire day in the neighborhood.
Montmartre is how I imagined Paris – narrow, cozy streets lined with cafes serving cafe au lait and crepes, with faded red-painted exteriors. Plenty of roaming cats. A piano player in one cafe, another across the street. Just the feel of those old buildings and stone walls with climbing greenery is the country-in-the-city feel I pictured.
Sacre Coeur is beautiful, but it’s almost more impressive from further away, when it looks more distant and untouchable, floating on the horizon, than when you’re standing on the steps leading up to the church, surrounded by tourists and street vendors. Oh, and armed guards. Like, heavily armed. With AK-47s.
Overall, I enjoyed visiting the church. The huge mosaic on the ceiling of Jesus with his golden heart is beautiful and inviting.
At that point, it was time for a break and a crepe!
Then, we went to check out the Dali Museum in Montmartre. It was interesting because it focused more on his sketches and sculptures than his traditionally-known art. His illustrations were actually quite interesting, including ones inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Romeo & Juliet.
Here’s a quote from Dali: “The speed of time, while precise in scientific use, is widely variable in human perception.”
As we tried to locate the two remaining windmills on the hill, Moulin Gallette, we stumbled across the Cimetiere de Montmartre and decided to go in.
I’m so glad we did, because the cemetery was beautiful. It was wooded just enough to create the proper atmosphere without getting too dark and creepy. And it truly felt like fall with the colorful leaves on the trees and in heaps in the aisles, and chestnuts on the ground. The perfect season to wander around a cemetery.
There were beautiful tombstones and we visited the graves of singer Dalida, painter Degas, composer Offenbach, dancer Nijinsky, Adolphe Sax and others.
But the best part was all the cats roaming around (yes, I know I’m a crazy cat lady) and chilling on the tombstones. It was the perfect scene – quiet, calm, with few people around and just these silent, feline observers. And of course I saw a couple black cats. The detour ended up being one of the highlights of our tour through the neighborhood.
Note to visitors: if you’re strolling through the cemetery, take a photo of the map at the entrance that shows where all the famous people are buried. Otherwise you will spend lots of time wandering around and trying to find them. Which is what we did until I finally walked all the way back to the map and snapped a shot.
After the cemetery, we finally found the windmills, which really weren’t anything more than a photo op.
We started back to the hotel, and were thoroughly exhausted, not to mention hungry. I’ll blame these two factors for the fact that we decided to eat at a train-wagon-themed restaurant. Yep, we literally sat in a little “wagon” booth, complete with burgundy cushioned seats and a storage compartment.