I Fall in Love at The Sacre Coeur

Paris Travel Blog

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It's officially spring in Paris! The sun is shining, a warm wind blows, and I've heard tell that the trees are budding in the Jardin du Luxembourg. I myself spent the warm afternoon on the steps of the Sacre Coeur, my favorite place yet in all of Paris.

Jenn and I went up to Montmartre today to get our hostel international membership cards. Standing in the metro we dug through my pocket dictionary looking for words we might need, so the word of the day is officially adhesion as in carte d'adhesion as in membership card. After walking a bit through some shady neighborhoods, I had to get up the courage to ring the bell and speak in the intercom, which was the only way to get in. But we did get in, and we got our cards, and I felt good for succeeding at something, no matter how small.

After getting our cards we headed toward the Sacre Coeur. Finding it is quite simple, of course. A number of metros go in that direction, and once you get off the train you just walk UP. I seriously underestimated the size and grandeur of this monument. Jenn and I walked around looking for a restaurant for a bit first though, and I got pretty cranky en route. I'm just so tired of going around to restaurant after restaurant after restaurant, all of them with the same menu! I even threw a little temper tantrum, refusing to climb up the famous escaliers de la butte, as in the famous stairs of Montmartre, which are kick-you-in-the-arse steep, without drinking some coffee first, but I had to relent eventually as none of the restaurants around fit our taste. Funny, though, how those stairs, which have been presented as so Romantic in books and songs and whatever, are, upon practical aplication, kind of actually a drag :)

We got to the top, took a few pics of the gargantuan Neo-Byzantine basilica made entirely of white marble, and then we walked through the hippies and tourists back down part of the other side to find food. We soon settled on a little cafe with crepes and sandwiches and all the windows wide open, and then went and got some of the most beautiful and tasty gellato of my life. We took it back to the steps of the Sacre Coeur, and it was there that I became happy.

These Pics are actually from another trip to the Sacre Coeur,

but you get the idea...

From the steps one can see all of the city spread below, which is sprawling and immense. There were many buildings I recognized and much was the familiar Paris in which I live every day, but I felt much more connected up above it all. The steps are wide and open and filled with young people, all of them wearing bright colors and smiles. It made me feel like these were the true Parisians, laughing from above at the city below. In fact, for the first time in Paris I felt out of place not because I wasn't fashionable or entirely put together, but because I wearing too much black. Insert sigh of relief.

What's even better is there was a group of hansome guitar playing young French guys there, and for about an hour and a half I was perfectly content to just sit there smiling and singing along. The funniest part, which I'm still laughing about, is you could really, really tell they learned the English songs phonetically, and I couldn't help but be reminded of my friend Allie, who just makes the words up as she goes along. The music was still good though. Great, even. And the sun was warm, and everyone sat close were legitimately chill. Honestly, most of them were probably tourists as the musicians spoke in English more than half the time, but I didn't care. It was a perfect melange. It was also a lot like hanging out on the Union Terrace back home, or any other place where young people come to hang out and listen to music. I wanted so freaking much to be part of that group, which made me kind of sad. But it was wonderful all the same. In addition, I fell in love with one of the musicians. Jenn and I decided the reason is we are starved for smiles, and that is what he did all the time.

So, yeah, for an hour and a half or so I hung out on the steps of the Sacre Coeur, falling in love with guitar man and listening to Radiohead, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Bob Marley... some great stuff. Then they played "All You Need is Love", and I just about lost it. It was too perfect, and I was torn between being absolutely happy and kind of sad all at once. I wanted my friends to be there, certain ones in particular. I wanted things to be the way I remember they once were, in my idealized imagination, only this time in Montmartre. I wanted to be part of a group. But I also wanted to magically fit in with a new group of friends... something I can't do unless I speak French. Now there's an incentive.

Of course, I didn't mope about. I let myself be happy and sad at the same time, and I told myself to knock it off and enjoy it while it lasted, which pretty much worked. It was too beautiful not to, what with wonderful guitar man doing his best at Thom Yorke's long high notes and an adorable Italian toddler who came and danced next to us, and blew bubbles, and took a bunch of pictures of the musicians all sticking their tounges out. Ah, Paris.

On the way down the hill I was feeling chill and strong, which I love, which is what probably gave me the courage to basically lay the smackdown when one of the infamous bracelet sellers of Montmartre cornered Jenn and tried to get a bracelet on her wrist. I have been warned by fabulous sources that once they get it on you basically have to buy it, so I reached out, grabbed Jenn's arm (I don't think she had heard of their reputation), and said Non, Merci with some serious force. The guy turned around to get me to let go, but I was totally hardcore, clenched jaw, non about it, and so he let us go. It was only an overreaction in my head, and boy it felt good! I am a superhero.

Back on the metro heading home I took out "The Picture of Dorian Grey", I was just to that point at the end when it was too grotesque and fast-paced to put down, and at one point on the train I actually gasped aloud at something ghastly Dorian had done, raising my hand abruptly to my mouth. When I realized what I had done, I looked around for a sec, and there were a couple of people who were almost half-way smiling at me in that "I know how you feel" sort of way. I've said it before and I'll say it again, maybe Paris isn't so tough after all??

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photo by: Sweetski