Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Churches, crypts and a christmas market

Day 21

Another foggy morning but thankfully not so cold as it was our first few days in Paris.  Today was for exploring our own neighbourhood.  We’re staying in a lovely flat on Rue LePic in Montmartre and every day we see people trudge up the street (and trudge they do – remember how steep our little side-street is)  headed for Sacre Coeur.  Because we like to sample local transport we thought we’d give the funicular a go but our trudge brought us out about half way up the funicular.  Option 1 – go down the 100+ stairs just to catch the thing up or keep going and conquer the remainder of the 248 stairs.  We chose up – and what a view when we got there!  We were also treated to some divine Christmas music from a man with a half-size harp.

Big and white (its made of travertine) and gorgeous, it’s a relative new-comer on the Paris skyline – building started in 1875 and finished in 1914 but the Great War intervened and it was consecrated in 1919.  The mosaic in the apse is incredible. 

The back of Sacre Coeur

Just round the corner is the much plainer and virtually empty St Pierre du Montmartre, celebrating its 870th anniversary this year. Their very modern take on the nativity was lovely.

This altar was incredible - very modern but really lovely

From here you run the gauntlet of artists touting their ability to draw your likeness… and you’re into Place de Tertre – legendary square of the Parisian artists for over a hundred years.  Picasso, Renoir and Dali all painted here when they lived in Paris.

I was gutted to find the Espace Dali museum closed for renovation! Grrrrrrrr!  But on the way we encountered something quite unexpected.  A pre-wedding photo-shoot for an Asian bride & groom.  They go on a holiday to some photogenic destination and have their wedding photos taken, then at their reception (on the day they are married) all these photos are displayed via a non-stop powerpoint slideshow.

Back down the hill, almost past our flat and the Montmartre Cemetery.  Opened in 1825 in an abandoned gypsum quarry it is the final resting place of Degas (artist) Alexander Dumas (writer) Vaslav Najinsky (dancer) and a whole load of other French notables from the arts, sciences, music etc. 

Looking into the cemetery from the roadway built over the top of part of it.

This one even had stained glass windows

The cemetery is home to a stack of cats.  I commented to Tony how well fed and healthy they looked – a little later I knew why.

We headed back to the flat and I went out again – just for an hour or so to check out the fabric streets. What astounded me was the way that one of the stores displayed their fabric.  These mannequins are only about 1m tall and their outfits are immaculately constructed

Most of you probably know I am a bit of a Christmas Market tragic (blame Lauren and our lovely friend Dagmar for introducing me to their delights when we visited Germany in 2012) and until now we have both been really disappointed with the distinct lack of markets.  The one at the Eifel Tower doesn’t open till 22nd – really! ……. Who opens a Christmas market 3 days before Christmas, the one on the Champs Elysees isn’t running this year due to a disagreement between the owner and the city council, the one at the Trocadero just isn’t there either! 

So tonight we set out full of hope to visit the market at La Defence – billed as the biggest in Paris (now that the market on the Champs is gone)  We weren’t disappointed – it was big, clean, lovely, well set out and had a huge range of things … except Christmas decorations… the main reason I go to them.  We did a circuit, then headed into the next-door shopping mall and was so close to posting something rude on my FB – something along the lines of :where do the bloody French people buy their Christmas decorations” when we found a solitary shop – a large solitary shop selling nothing but Christmas decorations.  I left a happy girl!

One stall had a massive selection of nativity animals 

Tomorrow is our last day in Paris and  the Musee D’Orsay is on the agenda. 

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