I kind of had this sad feeling when I woke up on Friday morning. Typically, when I come to a big city on a holiday, I dive into it. I feel it, I drink it, I wear it, I soak in it, I even take it to bed with me every night. In that sense, I have the true holiday experience. But sadly for Paris, you can blame the sore left ankle, the heat and the never ending Musée D'Orsay that killed the enthusiasm on the first day. It wasn't that pleasant at all, and I was left wondering "is this IT?". Then on Thursday, I was seeing the other attractions - enjoying them thoroughly and suddenly didn't want to leave France. And now, a brand new day, drizzling outside (yay!), and more places on the list.
Fountains at Sacre Couer
Breakfast was crepes, this time around - vanilla and dessicated coconut.
The Montmartre area is a tricky one to describe - some say it embraces and symbolises the soul of Paris. Some call it for its voyuerisms, some think "oh Moulin Rouge", some - for the love of street art and caricatures, and some of us, think of, and start our visit with the pure white building seen at a distance from other Paris hot spots, and despite being away from the city still has a significant place - Sacre Couer. I have to admit, I find this a bit of a giggle at times, when I was young, I used to call it the Taj Mahal of Paris, LOL. On a serious note, this Basillica was built in the 19th century as a good luck charm to cure the country's poverty and unhappiness.
To me, just the walk past the tiny cobbled roads up to the church was special. It was like being in Paris, but in a world away from Paris. It had its own kind of Parisian charm. I didn't care much for the church interiors. I guess by this time, with ALL the churches and cathedrals that I've been to, I'm kind of used to seeing familiar faces, paintings and stained glass. Although I did notice there were a few Tamil sayings on the wall (probably for the huge Sri Lankan population there) which I thought was pretty cool. I didn't bother taking up the stairs to the see the views of the city - again, something I was getting a bit tired of.
I was a bit upset with Frommers - apparently they got their direction wrong with M'martre which they rarely ever do. But having said that, it was nice just walking around the place and discovering it.
Inside Sacre Couer
In part, this reminded me about it St.Ives in Cornwall, England. It's just up and down and lots of tiny roads in a very labyrinth kind of way with tiny pizza stores, chocolate stores, museums and galleries. The highlight of this place is undoubtedly place du Tartres
- where the local artists bully you into posing and they'll draw your caricature, the whole road's got lots of open galleries and the fresh smell of food. It's just beautiful. Had a nice italianne tartine for a snack half way and continued walking down till I reached the landmark of the area - Moulin Rouge
. It was around this time (the walk) that Paris just.... well, I suddenly got the concept of Paris - l'ame de Paris? whatever, it's like a light went on and I was really enjoying myself.
Inside Sacre Couer (note the Tamil saying)
Montmartre really is one for the story books. I think I've fallen in love with it. Now, back to Moulin Rouge - it's actually smaller than I thought, but very colourful all the same. As nice as it is in the pictures. Shame that the shows inside are really expensive though, not worth it. The whole road was a bit of a shock for me - the erotic museum, the sex stores, the stores selling video tapes including one of "Indian queens", LOL.... very amusing. I woudl've loved to have spent more time in this area but that's the problem with a 4 day trip... you really end up squeezing everything.
Reached Paris, well the heart of Paris by 1pm and made a quick visit to the uber dull Place de la madeline, took a few pictures of Place de la Concorde and then headed to the next surprise - Musée de l'Orangerie.
This was really really lovely - a complete surprise. It's all of just 2 floors, and hosts a bunch of impressionist and post impressionist paintings. My favourite, and the highlight of this gallery is Monet's waterlillies. They're throw into 2 oval rooms = all of white - and there's no beginning and end. There are a total of 6 paintings which between them symbolise the 4 times of the day, and the 4 seasons of the year. It's beautiful. Can't imagine that the noise outside is drowned by this museum. I loved it, and I'd love to go back one day, just to sit back and relax and gaze into the paintings.
From here, walked quite a bit around Paris actually - walked through the Jardin des Tuileries (boy, the Parisians sure love their nude statues!) to the back entrance of the Louvre, made a 5 minute stop at the Museum of Decorative arts - found it meh and left.
A street artist - very nice!
.. headed to the Palais Royale to see the much acclaimed gardens - they were closed for refurbishing - and then took the Metro to Notre Dame where my friend wanted to shoot some pictures whilst I did some souvenir shopping. From here, went back to Louvre (today was Friday which means they're open late) and spent a good 3 additional hours here, this time dedicating it to the Richlieu wing and the Napoleon and middle age artwork.
Final stop of the day was the boat cruise by night. I'm kind of divided on this one - but before that, I have to say - Paris really is the city of rats! My GOD! So many of 'em as you come down the stairs to take the boat. The cruise was nice - chilly as expected - but I guess I had really seen all of this by night anyway so seeing it by boat didn't make that much of a difference, except robbed me of 12€!
Dinner that night was at a local resnt - it was about 11pm when I headed back to the hotel, so had to make do with a resnt that's open till midnight - had pizza like thing along with a nice vanilla-rum crepe. Not the best, but it did its job. I was so tired by the time I got back to the room (around 30mins past midnight). Today was the day that Paris officially clicked with me!