Our next stop in Paris was the area of Montmartre. Only about 3km from home, we set off walking again, this time through some more residential and humbler areas of Paris. The grocery shops, ATMs and other utilitarian spots that stayed out of view on the first day showed themselves up. I hobbled up the Rue de Temple (foot cramps, you see), we had our late breakfast of coffee and croissant.
We turned left at the Republique statue, onto Boulevard de Magenta. It was Souvik’s day to navigate, and he did fine. It was a straightforward route, turning left onto Bd de Clichy, past a lot of wedding dress shops, up the hill to La Basilique du Sacre Cœur.
It was a cold and windy day, inside the Basilique was warm but imposing. The place was teeming with tourists and touts, and we had enough quickly. We wanted to head to Rue Lamarck for lunch, but not before me doing to Souvik what he does to me sometimes – not believing the navigator. The Good Lord was watching, and made us climb the hill a second time as punishment. Now cold and tired, we still trudged to this cafe called Soul Kitchen. One of the owners/chefs here is the daughter of the couple who run a restaurant in Itterswiller, Alsace, and had given us the address. We were curious, so we stepped in. The cosy feeling in the cafe, plus the delicious aromas of food, and we were sold. The meal was as good as the smell, and we were transported back to Alsace with the 3-course set, though much more reasonable portion sizes. The highlight was the tomato soup and scone au Parmesan, and the dessert of frommage blanc with homemade jam. Ummmmm.
After this deeply satisfying meal, we were rejuvenated to climb that hill for the third time, now headed to Place du Tertre, the artists’ hangout, my favourite part of Paris so far.
The crowning glory was this man playing a beautiful version of Debussy’s Claire de Lune, setting up the mood of romantique Paris.
Place du Tertre was as bohemian as an artists’ village ought to be. Souvik found a movie store, I found a quirky souvenir shop – Le Chat Noir, France’s answer to Hello Kitty! We then strolled over to the sleaze district of Pigalle, past the sex shops to admire from outside the Moulin Rouge.
The walk back home via Rue Pierre Fontaine and Grand Boulevards had a few good food stops –
Some bread, cheese, ham and wine, for a happy dinner at home
With just a week in Paris, we’ve made a complex itinerary based on recommendations from French and Francophile friends and our own wish list. There’s river and canal cruises, marché des enfant rouges, Notre Dame, la Conciergerie, top of the Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro, Montparnasse, place de la Madeleine, the catacombs, not to mention interesting shops, macarons, glacés, and moutarde to chase.
If you have a favourite store/ spot in Paris, please go ahead and share!