Our destination for this June day was the interesting Montmartre area on the north side of Paris. The skies were overcast and the high temperature was 69⁰ F. We ran into some rain.
We walked from our apartment down to our most frequent breakfast haunt - Boulangerie La Parisienne next to the Cardinal Lemoine Metro station for our usual breakfast rolls. My granddaughter chose a Pain Suisse (Swiss Bread), a pasty filled with cream and chocolate nuggets. My grandson chose a Pain Tout Chocolat (All-chocolate Bread), and I chose an apricot pastry. The three cost a total of €4.65.
After finishing these taste treats, we walked down into the Metro station. Since our week-long Navigo Decouvert Metro pass had expired at midnight of the previous day, we had to buy subway tickets. Instead of purchasing individual tickets, I purchased a “carnet” - a packet of 10 tickets for a total of €12. This is a significant discount. If the tickets were purchased individually, they would cost €1.70 each instead of €1.20. They do not expire until they are used. The carnet had to be purchased from a machine. I was having trouble figuring out how to use the machine, but a French person came to my aid.
To get to Montmartre, we took Line 10 to Sèvres-Babylone - five stops in the direction of Boulogne. At Sèvres-Babylone, we took Line 12 to Abbesses - twelve stops in the direction of Porte de la Chapelle. The Abbesses Metro station is one of the deepest in Paris. It is 118 feet underground. Fortunately, there is a large elevator. Otherwise, there is a climb of over 100 steps. The first time my wife and I went there, we did not realize there was an elevator. On the return down to the platform, it might be worth walking, because there are interesting paintings on the walls along the stairway.
Entrance to the Abbesses Metro Station
Montmartre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmartre) is the name of a hill, whose full name is Le Butte Montmartre. Montmartre is also the name of the neighborhood on the hill. It is famous for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique du Sacré Coeur) which sits on tops of the hill, and which can be seen from many parts of Paris. It is also a well-known nightclub district. - So church and sin are close to one another. Many famous artists such as Monet, Dalí, Picasso, Modigliani, and van Gogh had studios in Montmartre.
The name Montmartre means, “Martyr Mountain.” It is named after St. Denis who was Bishop of Paris and who was martyred by decapitation in 250 AD. He is now the patron saint of France.
Near the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the church of St. Peter of Montmartre ( St. Pierre de Montmartre), where the Jesuit order of priests was reportedly founded in the 16th Century.
Our Visit to Montmartre
Since my granddaughter loves baguette sandwiches, I had done some research prior to our trip and had learned that the boulangerie that had won the 2011 Paris baguette grand prix competition was only half a block from the Abbesses Metro Station. We decided to have lunch there. We turned left (east) onto Rue des Abbesses and walked to Au Levain d'Antan boulangerie, at nr. 6 Rue des Abbesses. We each ordered a ham, gruyere and butter baguette for €3.70 each.
Au Levain D'Antan
We then walked back to the Metro entrance, where there was a small park. We sat on a bench and ate our sandwiches. While we were eating, some pigeons came and fought over the sandwich crumbs that fell on the ground. My grandchildren just happened to drop more crumbs, while their grandpa got upset. (What a killjoy!)
When my wife and I visited in Paris in 2005, we did a walking tour of Montmartre with the company - Paris Walks. That tour was very nice. However, I felt that my grandson and my granddaughter might have felt that tour was too long.
For my walk with my grandchildren, I found a nice walking tour and map at the following Frommers web pages. The first page describes places to visit and the second page has a map with those places:
I found two other nice Montmartre maps at:
After finishing our sandwiches, we turned right out of the park onto Rue des Abbesses. This street, like most others, was lined with 3 to 5-story buildings. There were shops or restaurants on the ground floor and apartments above. All of the streets in Montmartre were nice.
At the first street, we turned right onto Rue Ravigan and walked uphill on this residential street with 5 and 6-story apartment buildings. Toward the top of the street, we walked past Bateau Lavoir (Boat Washhouse) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Bateau-Lavoir). A number of famous artists lived there or nearby prior to World War I. Among them were Pablo Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and Juan Gris. The building was destroyed by fire in 1970 and rebuilt by the city of Paris.
We continue up to Rue Lepic, where we turned right and then continued onto Rue Norvins. The first part of Rue Norvins was relatively narrow with 2 and 3-story buildings. On the ground floor were eateries and shops. It was filled with tourists.
We soon came to Place du Tertre. Rue Norvins was on the north side of the Place. The Place was surrounded by restaurants. The Center of the Place was filled with outdoor restaurants covered by awnings. The outdoor restaurants belonged to the restaurants around the edges of the Place.
After passing the Place, we came to Place Jean Marais and walked into the small courtyard at the entrance to the Church of St. Peter of Montmartre. There was an outdoor tea shop in the courtyard. It was selling mint tea, espresso coffee, and sangria. I decided not to visit this church.
We walked out of the courtyard and turned left onto to Rue Saint Eleuthere. We walked downhill about a block to a point where Rue Saint Eleuthere made a left turn. At that point, we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Eiffel Tower from Rue Saint Eleuthere
There was also one of the famous Wallace Fountains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_fountain). There are many of these beautiful cast-iron fountains scattered throughout Paris. They were financed by Richard Wallace, a wealthy Englishman. Their purpose was to provide free drinking water to the poor, who had to pay for drinking water after many Paris aqueducts had been destroyed during the Paris Commune uprising of 1871.
A few feet away was the upper station of a funicular/cable car. It carries passengers up 118 ft from the base of Montmartre hill. It transports about 2,000,000 passengers per year and can handle 2,000 passengers per hour in each direction. It takes a minute and a half to go up the hill.
We walked a few feet back up Rue Saint Eleuthere to Rue Azais, and turned right. On our left, a very high wall of some type rose above us. Below on our right was the city of Paris. We then followed Rue Azais about a block to Place du Parvis, right in front of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. From the edge of the Place opposite the basilica was a sweeping view of Paris below. From that edge of the Parvis was a broad set of stairs going down to the Rue du Cardinal Dubois, just below the Parvis. At the bottom of the steps was a guitar player who was giving a free concert to a number of people sitting on the steps and standing beyond him. He was singing in English, and was very entertaining.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Basilique du Sacré-Coeur - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_du_Sacr%C3%A9-C%C5%93ur,_Paris) is situated on the summit of Montmartre hill. It is built in a Romano-Byzantine style and looks very different from most European Roman Catholic churches. The Basilica is visible from all over Paris.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart from the Eiffel Tower
The project to build the church was undertaken after the French loss of the Franco-Prussian War and the violent insurrection known as the socialist Paris Commune. Some 58,000 Frenchmen died during the Franco-Prussian War. Many people were executed by both sides during the Commune uprising. One of those executed was the Archbishop of Paris. Construction of the Basilica was initiated in 1875 and was completed in 1914.
The outside of the church was very impressive, and I had enjoyed seeing it from the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Montparnasse Tower.
We went into the Basilica and walked around the inside. It was nice, but far less impressive to me than cathedrals like Notre Dame.
When we came out of the church, we turned right and immediately right onto Rue du Cardinal Guibert, which runs along the west side of the Basilica. We walked straight ahead for a block on Rue du Cardinal Guibert. Then we came to a T intersection at Rue du Chevalier de la Barre. Straight ahead, there was a long steep stairway that dropped down to a place between two 7-story apartment buildings. The area was called Cité du Sacre Coeur. We could see other sets of stairs further on, passing between other apartment buildings. This was understandable since we were on top of the Montmartre butte. We could see several kilometers into the distance, but the view was fairly narrow because of the apartment buildings.
We headed west (i.e., a left turn off Rue du Cardinal Guibert) on Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, which had a number of shops and eateries. A block later, we turned right onto Rue du Mont Cenis. On our right was a tall, white, concrete water tower (château d’eau). It actually looked quite attractive. I did not realize what it was until I did some research after returning home. Apparently, it dates to the early 20th Century and was made to match the basilica.
Just after the water tower, we turned left onto Rue Cortot. One of the buildings we passed on this narrow street was the Montmartre Museum (Musée de Montmartre). It is in a 17th Century house that was occupied by van Gogh, Renoir, and Utrillo. We did not visit the museum.
We walked straight ahead to Rue des Saules, where we turned right. The first intersection we came to was at Rue Saint Vincent. On one corner was the Clos Montmartre - the only working vineyard in Paris. The vines were planted there in 1929. Every year, during the first week in October, there is a wine festival there, with a parade, wine and food stalls, dancing in the streets, etc. (http://www.frommers.com/slideshow/index.cfm?group=479&p=7).
On another corner was a historic cabaret called Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit) (http://www.au-lapin-agile.com/anglais/home.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapin_Agile). It was opened in 1955 and has an interesting history. It still offers cabaret shows.
We walked a block west on Rue St. Vincent and then turned right onto Place Constantin Pecqueur. We followed it around to the left. I wanted to get to an attraction called Moulin de la Galette. I asked a Frenchwoman getting into her car, and she said we should walk up Avenue Junot. We followed her directions. It was a residential, tree-lined street with 4 to 6-story buildings. As we walked along, I saw a gate with a sign with the words “Hameau des Artistes” (Artists’ Hamlet). When I researched this after our return, I discovered that it is a private area of artist studios and residences.
We followed Avenue Junot as it curved around to Rue Girardon. It began to rain lightly and intermittently as we walked. A small group of tourists, probably on a walking tour, walked in front of us.
We turned right onto Rue Girardon and walked one block to the intersection with Rue Lepic. At this corner is a famous 17th Century windmill called Moulin de la Galette (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_de_la_Galette) There is also a restaurant associated with it (http://www.lemoulindelagalette.eu/). The word “moulin” means “windmill.” Galette is the name of a type of bread produced here in the 19th Century when the business was a milling operation and bakery. Famous artists Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro have produced paintings of this picturesque wooden windmill. Renoir’s is titled, “Bal du moulin de la Galette.” The interesting history of the windmill is worth reading on the Wikipedia posting.
Moulin de la Galette
The next place I wanted to head for was the famous Moulin Rouge. We turned right onto Rue Lepic and followed it as it curved downhill to the left. As we walked, my granddaughter tripped and hurt her leg a bit. Rue Lepic was a mostly residential street with a few shops and eateries on the ground floor.
When we reached Rue Joseph de Maistre, we initially continue straight ahead on Rue Lepic. At the intersection of Rue Lepic and Rue Joseph de Maistre, there was a fire engine blocking traffic. Its ladder was raised to the top floor of a building at 42 Rue Lepic. We could not figure out what was going on.
We continued straight ahead as Rue Lepic became Rue des Abbesses. There were lots of shops and eateries on both sides of the street. After about 2 blocks, when I noticed that we were on Rue des Abbesses, I consulted my map and realized we were headed in the wrong direction.
We turned around and walked back to where Rue Joseph de Maistre met Rue Lepic. We followed it straight ahead one long block to Rue de Caulaincourt, where we turned left and walked along the eastern edge of the very large Montmartre Cemetery. We could see a number of fancy mausoleums inside the grounds of the cemetery.
When we got to Avenue Rachel on our right, we could see a stairway down to that avenue, which was below the level of Rue de Caulaincourt . We walked down that stairway to Avenue Rachel. We then walked a short distance to Boulevard de Clichy, where we turned left.
We walked a long block to the Moulin Rouge. The Boulevard de Clichy is a wide boulevard divided by a wide median strip with a pedestrian walk. It is typically lined with 5 to 7-story buildings with shops and eateries at ground level.
The Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_Rouge and http://www.moulinrouge.fr/) is a cabaret that was built in 1889. It has a large, red windmill on its roof. It is the birthplace of the Can-Can dance. A number of famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli, Charles Aznavour, Mikhail Baryshnikov, et al., have performed there. It has also been the subject of many films. It has a very interesting history, which is described on the Wikipedia site above.
The Moulin Rouge
I wanted to walk down Boulevard de Clichy to another interesting area - Place Pigalle. However, my granddaughter was tired and her foot was still sore from her recent fall, so we decided to return to our apartment.
We then went down into the Blanche Metro station across from the Moulin Rouge at about 3:35 pm. We took Line 2 one stop in the direction of La Nation to Pigalle. There, we switched to Line 12 and went 10 stops in the direction of Mairie d'Issy to Sèvres-Babylon. There, we took line 10 five stops in the direction of Gare d'Austerlitz to Cardinal Lemoine.
We then walked back to the apartment. We arrived there at about 4:15 pm.