My guidebook describes the district of Montmarte as the bohemian heart of Paris, bustling with artists, music, and uh, ladies of the night. My only backround on the neighborhood stemmed from repeated viewings of Amelie and a tip from my cousin to make sure to vist Tati, sort of like a French H&M. Tati turned out to be closed when we visited, but it was on the way to our main stop anyway: the Basilique du Sacre Coeur:
Perched at the summit of butte Montmarte, the Roman Catholic basilica is at the highest point in the city, providing a spectacular panorama of the Paris skyline:
It felt like a million steps to finally reach the Sacre Coeur, so my family and I took our time walking up the hill and admiring the view (and the good weather, finally).
Photos are not allowed inside the basilica and silence is observed as much as possible, lending a more solemn air to this house of worship than any of the other ones I visited during our trip.
After exploring the basilica, we took the metro to the nearby Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen, which my guidebook described as the largest and finest antique flea market in Europe. Not so. It felt more like a typical market in Berkeley, complete with mass-produced Bob Marley leather jackets and incense. (Sorry, Berkeley.)
We cut that part of our day short and took the metro back into the city center and stopped for lunch near Les Halles (which happens to be the namesake for Anthony Bourdain’s New York restaurant). I had the plat du jour at Au Pere Tranquille: shrimp salad with avocado and grapefruit:
Afterwards, we walked a few blocks towards Centre Pompidou, a postmodern complex housing a public library, the national museum of modern art, and a center for music research:
It took a few minutes to get a sense of direction in this huge building, and we ended up spending most of our time in the modern art museum:
I really enjoyed Centre Pompidou. I just wish I knew what all of the signs meant. Applying my knowledge of Spanish to French was a slow process fraught with guessing games, and I’m sure Parisians got a chuckle or two at my Spanish-accented attempts to communicate. Parlez-vous Anglais? can only get you so far!