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Living Parisian, Part 3 - Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre

Updated: Nov 25, 2019


As I ruminate on my experience in Paris, it dawns on me that it is the total abandon and child-like awe and wonder that I returned to that week in Paris. Awakening some of that inner-child is a good thing for the soul! Paris did it for me, what might it take for you?

Our second day in Paris started very slowly. Can I still call it breakfast when we didn't eat until 1 pm? Yes! More evidence of our being jet-lagged, but that is part of international travel. Nevertheless, with a dose of pain au chocolate and cappuccino we were re-energized and off!

The main focus for our second-day adventure in Paris was walking from le Marais to Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs) bound for Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. In 1875, construction of the basilica commenced using travertine stone, in the Romano-Byzantine style, according to the official website.

If you have ever seen the 2001 French film, Amélie (and more on that later), you would surely recognize many sites along our day’s journey, especially around Sacré-Coeur. It is quite a notable structure prominently perched atop the hill called Montmartre. At night, the basilica is illuminated so the edifice glows against the evening sky. A breathtaking sight - day or night!

view of Sacré-Coeur from la Ronsard Café

view of Sacré-Coeur from la Ronsard Café

By the time we reached Sacré-Coeur, we were ready for more caffeine, and not yet ready to ascend the hundreds of steps to the cathedral and eventual climb of the bell tower. My immediate need was to locate a café and to get my hands on a cappuccino. Okay, two of them (so yummy!).

sketch of Sacré-Coeur from a street café

I have a thing for sketching...a peek into my sketchbook from our visit to Sacré-Coeur!

Fortuitously, we spotted an open table at la Ronsard Café directly across from Sacré-Coeur - with a perfect view. As we finished our first beverage, we remembered that the French enjoy their meals and refreshments at a leisurely pace. In fact, they do not customarily bring you your bill until you ask for it (L'addition, s'il vous plait.). So round two and relax!

This relaxing was the perfect time for me to get a sketch in! Interestingly, this was one of the few times that we actually stayed in one place long enough for me to sketch. Guess we'll have to go back again for a sketching trip and not a sight-seeing trip.

view of landscaping around Sacré-Coeur

view of landscaping around Sacré-Coeur

One of many domes atop Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Paris

view of smaller dome and surrounding city around Sacré-Coeur, from bell tower "frame"

Rooftop view of Paris skyline from Sacre-Coeur

rooftop view of city around Sacré-Coeur

architectural details at Sacré-Coeur

architectural details at Sacré-Coeur

copper statues representing King Saint Louis lX and Joan of Arc

looking up at Sacré-Coeur

looking up at the domes of Sacré-Coeur

Following our visit to Sacré-Coeur, we continued exploring Montmartre. We first visited the oldest church in Paris (1147 A.D.), Saint Pierre de Montmartre. An adorable, elderly French man - wearing his sport coat, hat (chapeau) - greeted us in French. When I responded back in French, he proceeded to tell us all about the church en français. I could understand pieces of it, but luckily we had previously read some of the history of the area and buildings, so I could sort of follow. I really wish we had taken a picture of him and the church!

Next, we broke out the Rick Steves Paris 2017 book in order to follow his recommended walking tour of Montmartre. There are many travel websites and blogs that have this kind of helpful information of self-guided walking tours to assist you in seeing important and interesting sights.

Place du Tertre - Montmartre

Chez Eugene at Place du Tertre - artist square

Place du Tertre, in Montmartre, is essentially an artist square. Here you will find artists sketching and painting just about anything, but hoping you will leave with one of their works by which to remember Paris. Indeed, I left with a small sketch of a Seine river scene accented with water colors.

Chez Eugene at Place du Tertre - Montmartre

Chez Eugene at Place du Tertre in Montmartre

Place du Tertre - Montmartre

Place du Tertre - Montmartre

charming houses at Montmartre

charming houses at Montmartre

le Moulin de la Galette - Montmartre

le Moulin de la Galette - Montmartre

This café - le Moulin de la Galette - is said to be the setting of the painting Bal du moulin de la Galette, by Renoir. In its past, Montmartre was a sort of bohemian village for many famous artists such as Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Dali, and more.

interesting combination/evolution of building materials

look at the exposed combination/evolution of building materials

The city of Paris is pieced and pasted together with centuries of materials and architectural styles. The photo above shows a glimpse of the layers that are usually hidden beneath the façade. I love getting a peek at what once was and how it is now.

a cobblestone street in Montmartre

Rue Lepic - a cobblestone street in Montmartre

a curious door-knocker in Montmartre

a curious door-knocker in Montmartre

This is one of probably 75+ doors that we photographed during our week in Paris! Don't you love the door-knocker?! There were so many interesting and creative types of hardware that we discovered. This is my quirky favorite!

Café des deux Moulins

So back to the movie Amélie. No wandering through Montmartre, at least for an huge fan like me, would be complete without a stop at Café des deux Moulins. This is the café where the fictional character, Amélie Poulain, works and where many scenes take place. We actually ate there. I was afraid it would be a little too tourist-y and maybe not so great, but my scallop risotto was really delicious!

Place de la Concorde - la Roue de Paris and Obelisk of Luxor - the Eiffel Tower in the distance

The visually delightful conclusion of our evening was taking a ride on the Roue de Paris. From our vantage point, we could see the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, Notre Dame and more. It was a brilliant way to become oriented with the layout of the city and see the evening twinkle of lights. I am sure it would be a sight to see in the daytime, too, but the evening ride is the winning time for me.

Have you ever been on the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland in California? For some reason, that children's ride in Fantasyland is magical for me. Seeing Paris from high above, the lights, the glimmer of the Seine River reminds me of when I had that child-like awe and wonder!

Thanks for taking a peek at my photos of Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur! If you have any questions or comments, give me a shout at

The weekend is nearly here and I hope you have a great one!

Until next time, Valerie

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