I love reflecting on my time in Paris, a beautiful city which was so different from anywhere I had been before. Our Air BNB was located in the beautiful Montemarte neighborhood, an area with a rich history.
We wound our way around the neighborhood up to the Sacré-Cœur chapel at the top of the hill. Its position on the hill allows you to wander around, looking at small shops and food stands, while keeping your destination in sight. I recommend beginning at the Blanche metro stop on the Boulevard de Clichy, going up towards the chapel, then down towards the Blvd. de Rochechouart. This route includes a variety of art shops and petite cafés.Historically, the hill of Montmartre was sacred, where ancient druids were thought to worship. This was the site of Roman temples dedicated to gods Mars and Mercury, giving the location its original name ‘Mons Martis’, or Mountain of Mars. It was later changed to a more Catholic title, “Mount of Martyrs”. Before being absorbed into the expanding city of Paris in 1860, this district was as a place of dancing and festivities.
Construction of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. The chapel is believed to be dedicated to the 58,000 who lost their lives during the Franco-Prussian war. Some say that the structure serves as national penance for the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, and the tragedy of the socialist Paris Commune of 1871. This basilica is gorgeous and very detailed in its construction; when we entered the church, a mass was in progress, so a woman’s beautiful soprano added to the solemn atmosphere. One of my favorite parts of the walk towards the chapel was the Place du Tertre, a square filled with artists displaying their work. Out of respect for the artists, I don’t have any photos of their art, but I wish I could share all of it! Many depicted the Paris skyline, the windmills of Montmartre, or the French streets filled with life. Around this square were many shops displaying art, where I purchased a small wood block print of the Chat Noir Café. Down the street from the Blanche metro stop, directly in front of the hill, is The Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill), a cabaret theatre known as the origin of the can-can style. Co-founded in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller, the original building burned down in 1915, but has been restored and continues to be a major attraction in Parisian nightlife. Some of its most famous performers include la Goulue, Jane Avril, la Môme Fromage, Grille d’Egout, Nini Pattes en l’Air, Yvette Guilbert and the clown Cha-U-Kao. One night, as we passed the building buzzing with activity, the door was opened and we waited expectantly for some elaborately dressed dancer to exit. Instead, we were greeted by a pair of miniature horses! Of course, I was more curious than ever to see the show, but it was incredibly crowded.
Nearby is the Café des Deux Moulin (Café of Two Windmills). This little café became famous from the film Amélie, in which the main character is a waitress at the café. There is a large portrait of Audrey Tautou, the actress who portrayed Amélie, in the café. I can’t comment on the quality of the food there, because it was incredibly crowded, as I’m sure it often is. Its feature in the film has made this little café a highly popular tourist spot. With these two popular attractions so close to each other, I began to wonder about the significance of the windmills that identify them. I later learned that the neighborhood of Montmartre was once famous for its windmills. However, only two of the original windmills for which the area is known still stand today.
It’s true that the area is often filled with tourists; however, as a tourist, I must admit I found it very enchanting. I can’t wait to return and experience more of the charm that Montemarte has to offer.
XOXO, Seoulmate ♥