The Sacre’ Coeur is a beautiful basilica, and from the steps in front of it you can see all of Paris laid out before you. That is, if it isn’t raining, but it is, so we take in the beauty indoors rather than suffer along with all of the other tourists.
You aren’t allowed pictures inside, which is too bad, because it really is beautiful. Built around 1900 in a neo-classical style, every surface inside seems to be covered in gorgeous stained glass, gold gilt, marble, or jewels. It’s a sight to behold.
I take a moment to pray inside within a designated area. Incredibly, some guy, I think his name is asshole, decides that is where he wants to conduct a conversation via cell phone. I tell him “Silence”, and he does put the phone away.
Then we visit the rest of Mantmartre. Today it’s a tourist haven and one of the best addresses in town. Back in the day, though, all the great writers and artists (and not a few prostitutes) used to hang out here because it was really its own city at the time and they taxed the wine less. Do drinking and art always go together? And, does gentrification always follow these artsy types after they’ve “discovered” a place? Now, it’s full of the aforementioned tourists, along with mostly mediocre portrait artists, souvenir shops, café’s, and the like. It’s as close as Paris comes to tacky, but I still like it, and the cobblestone streets and ancient homes and churches are real enough.
Go far enough into Montmartre and you can see its seedy past today. The Moulin Rouge still features burlesque shows, if half-naked women are your thing, and of course there are sex shops. But it’s also a real neighborhood with picturesque, narrow winding streets that seem to lead you down mysterious paths to hidden treasures. I like it.
In fact, it’s my favorite Parisian neighborhood after perhaps the Latin Quarter and the 7th around the Eiffel Tower.
I’m sick as a dog, so I eat at home again today. Tomorrow, London!