Faced with a Sunday alone, and no plans, I decided to spend the day exploring Montmartre.
A girl at work had recommended the Rue des Abbesses as a good place to start, so I caught the Metro straight there and wandered for a while. This incredibly pretty street is full of boutiques, cafes and food shops (and tourists, like me) – and it was busy, but chilled out enough for a Sunday stroll. I meandered up the hill towards the Sacré-Couer, across Rue Lepic and through the Place du Tertre. A gorgeous square lined with cafes, and filled with artists peddling their latest drawing of the Eiffel Tower. I could have stayed here a while it was so picturesque, but it was absolutely packed with tourists on the same trail towards the Basilica as me, so I moved on and was so glad I did.
The Sacré-Couer is absolutely beautiful. It sits at the highest point in Paris, and from its steps you can see the whole of the city. It was a little cloudy, but absolutely spectacular, and I’m sure it would be even more so on a sunny day. As to be expected, it was crazy busy outside the church, filled with people trying to sell trinkets and selfie sticks to the many many tourists milling around. The queue to get in was huge, but moved quickly, and the view was so beautiful it was no hardship at all.
At every shop and tourist attraction I’ve been to since I arrived, there has been a security guard on the door asking to look inside everyone’s bags (hence the queue). I’ve also seen a few armed guards walking through the streets, security has been ramped up so much for the Euros, but that’s for another post.
Inside the church is stunning. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures unfortunately, but the inside of the dome is covered in an amazing golden mosaic (wiki says it’s one of the largest in the world). I sat in a pew for a while to take it all in, but it was so incredibly busy in there that it’s definitely not the best place for quiet contemplation (if that’s what you’re looking for).
After seeing the Basilica I walked down the many many steps of the butte Montmartre (I think that’s what it’s called), towards Pigalle so I could see the Moulin Rouge. A bit of a contrast to the church I’d just visited, Pigalle is full of sex shops and adult cinemas. Lots of trendy looking bars and restaurants too, so I think I’ll definitely be going back for a meal.
I’d been to the Moulin Rouge before, so it wasn’t new, but I felt I couldn’t go through the area without going to see it. It’s not particularly impressive from the outside (not really like the film, though it does have the famous windmill), but definitely worth going to see a show. I loved the one I went to with my mum, cousin and aunt before my cousin’s wedding, and am saving to go with N when he’s back.
In all, a lovely Sunday spent wandering through Paris.