Every day in Paris was great. The day that we went to Montmartre was superb. We began our day by taking the metro to Montmartre, using the Abbesses stop. I insisted that the flight of stairs would be faster than waiting for the elevator to get up to ground level. Several flights of stairs later, Sharon questioned my decision. We were about half way up. At the top we found ourselves in front of a beautiful Metro entrance. Sharon asked me to take a picture. She then said, "Wouldn't it be great if a couple kissed as you take the picture?" Yeah right, like that ever happens in Paris!
Our first stop was Sacre-Coeur Basilica. To get to the top of this steep hill, you take the Funicular! Oops, it was not running that day. There was a long line of people waiting for a shuttle bus (Matterns don't do lines... not in Disneyland... not in Paris). "We'll just use the stairs!" (Sharon was NOT pleased.) There are two sets of stairs, I chose the steeper ones under shade trees! There were only 25 steps in each of the 8 levels. (That's right, do the math.) The walk up was terrific with wonderful views of Paris. At the top stands the beautiful Sacre-Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart). It was worth the climb!
After visiting the church and gasping at the breath-taking views of the city, we proceeded UP the street to Place du Tertre, Bohemian Montmartre. Lined with cafes and shade trees, Place du Tertre has been the town square of Montmartre since Medieval times. Artists fill the square hoping to be the next Renoir, van Gogh, or Monet.
In this area, you can leave the tourists behind and wander back streets to find one of Renoir's homes, Picasso's Studio, Toulouse-Lautrec's house, and finally going down hill see van Gogh's home (actually his brother's home, but Vincent lived there for two years). You can imagine these great Impressionist painters while you are in Montmatre. My favorite painting is by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, it is called "Bal du Moulin de la Galette". It depicts Montmartre on a sunny afternoon in the shade tree garden, people are laughing, dancing, drinking and eating...basically having a good time.
The last stop on our walking tour of Montmartre was the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill). According to Rick Steves' Paris 2007 book, amateur night was the highlight for the nightclub. The "CanCan" was first danced here. Toulouse-Lautrec sketched the various acts including Jane Avril.
As an after thought, I convinced Sharon that a short two or three block walk on boulevard de Clichy to the Pigalle Metro station would be fun. The Pigalle Metro station is known for its Art Nouveau style. Oops! I forgot that Pigalle was also nicknamed "Pig Alley" by American GI's in WWII, because of all of the sex shops, peep shows, etc that line boulevard de Clichy. She was not amused!
(OK, so I took some liberties in writing this blog....Sharon never complained about all of the stairs in the metro station, never batted an eye about the steps going uphill to the Sacre-Coeur, and actually thought that all of the sex shops were very, very French! OOH LA LA!!!)