Paris-Day 5: Montmartre
|Originally a notorious cabaret,
Chat Noir closed in 1897 .
The name and heritage
of the once famous nightclub
now graces a small hotel
Despite the fact that my limp is getting more pronounced from all of the walking we’ve done, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Paris but it is today that I have been looking forward to above everything else we’ve done. Today, when Maggie gets back from the last morning session at her conference, we’re off to Montmartre and if the Latin Quarter is Maggie’s favourite section of the city, Montmartre is mine.
|Basilica of Sacre Coeur|
No canvas is too small and the palette knife is the preferred instrument for applying paint. For most of these painters, brushes take too long. There is every conceivable style of painting from abstract and impressionist to classic realism, from quite good to abhorrent. It is a blaze of noise and colour that matches the canvases of the artists in the street.
|Montmartre is still the outdoor studio to dozens
of artists who work while they try to sell
Interspersed between the scenic painters are the portrait artists. Some have a small stall where you can sit and pose while they render your likeness on paper; others wander the streets, pad in hand trying to entice tourists into stopping long enough for a quick sketch. The wandering artists tend not to be very good. We watched one particularly aggressive artist draw the portrait of a little girl and when he was finished, we wondered if we had been looking at the same little girl he was looking at.
|You’re kidding, right?|
We wonder over to Sacre-Coeur and Maggie runs up the stairs to go into the basilica while I rest my leg by sitting on a convenient cement traffic barrier at the base of the steps. When she returns we decide we will need more cash but can’t find an ATM anywhere. In spite of my sore leg and back, I’m prepared to wander around until we find one because I hate asking for directions. Maggie is more pragmatic and asks someone for directions which initiates the great expedition.
|Ah! The funiculaire, a more
civilized way to travel up and down
Fortunately, there is a cable car, or funiculaire as it is called in Paris, that will carry us down and back up the side of the butte. We buy tickets, enter the cable car and descend. Sure enough, there is an ATM in a store right at the bottom of the hill and, sure enough, it is out of service. (I am convinced more than ever that Air Canada has its fingers in many operations)
|A view of Paris from Montmartre|
We wander up and down side-streets with Maggie asking for directions at various times only to be always told that there was an ATM just around the corner. It became clear that ‘which corner’ was never actually established. I would have like to have stepped in to ask for directions but I’m a guy and we don’t ever ask anyone how to get anywhere. It’s not just a point of principle, it’s genetic.
Good luck. Scarves abound, socks are nowhere to be found.
|Once the bohemian centre of Paris, Montmartre
is now a major tourist attraction
When we go to bed, Maggie is asleep in moments while I lay awake wondering how Air Canada will screw up the next day. It’s like anticipating a violent storm. You know it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about and you have no idea how much damage will be done. You just know it’s not going to be pleasant.
Paris – Day 1: Les vaches disent moo!
Paris-Day 2: Cultured and Assimilated
Paris-Day 3: The Fleas
Paris-Day 4: Just Being There – The Latin Quarter