We planned on doing our Bike About Tour on Saturday morning, but because I struggle with reading confirmations and websites and cannot accurately tell time, that plan was thrown out the window. Since the Bike About people were quite flexible, we opted to flip flop our morning and afternoon plans, so we decided to meet at the Pigalle Metro station at 11h30. We were going to follow the Frommer’s walking tour of Montmartre as our guide — again. Frommer’s overestimated the amount of time this walk would take. They said it would take 5 hours, more if you break for lunch and if we follow the route we’d cover 4 kilometers. We had to be back at the Charlemagne statue at 14h45 so we wouldn’t miss our bike tour (again) — plus we needed to get lunch. We better get cracking!
When I think of Montmartre I think of the Moulin Rouge and Toulouse-Latrec wandering around in an absinthe induced haze. Not so much any more – especially at noon on a Saturday. Unlike the rest of Paris we visited, Montmartre is quite hilly, which really helps you burn off all the butter and cream you’ve been consuming while in Paris.
The first stop was the cradle of cubism, Bateau-Lavoir or the Boat Wash house. Picasso lived here for 8 years and created such pieces at Demoiselle d’Avignon as well as The Third Rose. The building was quite nondescript and if the guidebook hadn’t pointed it out, we would have just walked on by.
We continued up the hill to find the Espace Dali Montmatre, a Salvador Dali museum with over 300 original works and a tacky gift shop, it will fully satisfy a Dali lover. Seriously though, what are you going to do with one of those melting wall clocks?
We then came across Place de Tertre which is swarming with artists (caricaturists, some psychics and some talented landscape artists). MS opted to purchase a medium/small landscape of Paris. I don’t have a picture of it, but it is nicely done. In this square there is a restaurant called La Cremaillere 1900 — a Belle Epoque dining room with original paintings and a beautiful ceiling. We didn’t stop to eat as we barely made any progress on the tour and we had a lot to see.
The next stop was St. Pierre, one of the oldest churches in Paris. Around the corner we found the main reason for our visit to Montmartre — Sacre-Coeur, a basilica whose construction began in 1876 but was designed to look like a 12th Century Byzantine structure. The bright white exterior shined against the crystal clear blue sky — reminded me so much of my visit to the leaning tower of Pisa (c. 1996). The view from the front of Sacre-Coeur is quite stunning. We did not travel to the top of the basilica to view Paris from on high, but I hear the views are spectacular.
We started walking down the hill and found a small vineyard that is still in operation — what a surprise. At this point we were getting quite hungry, so we figured we’d walk down to find a quick little lunch stop then make our way over to the bike tour. As we were walking down, RK reminded us that the place where he buys his clarinet reeds is in Montmarte and it is on the street that we are on. We continue to walk to find the address — of course, we walk right on past it. Luckily JB was paying more attention than the rest of us. Unfortunately this place was closed.
We did find a nice place for a gallette and a crepe as we made our way back to Pigalle Station. Creperie Lepic Assiette offered some great options for both sweet and savory crepes. If you are in the area, I would stop by. Plus there was a big painting of this dog on site too. The dog was lounging under one of the benches — quite the life.
We continue our trek toward Pigalle and walk past a couple of Moulin’s (windmills) including the most famous, Moulin Rouge. It looked a little Time Square to me — we didn’t see a show, but did continue back to Pigalle and then to our hotel as MS had to drop off the canvas he purchased before our bike ride. I do wish I was able to have another meal in this area and perhaps been able to enjoy the nightlife, but I wouldn’t put this high on my to do list next time — and I sure wouldn’t consider this a miss on this trip because I didn’t do this.