Saturday, May 11, 2013

Au revoir

We spent most of our last day in Paris in Montmartre. An easy Metro ride that started at Rambuteau and ended at Blanche brought us virtually to the doorstep of one of Montmartre's most recognizable (and cheesiest) landmarks.

...but I like the earby Hector Guimard designed Art Nouveau entrance for Blanche Metro much better.

...and walking the picturesque streets of the Montmartre butte is our favourite thing to do (and we all agree that Rue Lepic is the best foodie street we've seen so far this week).

We enjoy seeing our second moulin - the remains of the famous Moulin de Galette...and start to picture how this area would have looked in the days of Renoir and Toulouse Lautrec (and Picasso and the rest).

As we climb higher nearing the bend to Rue Cortot we see the famous Montmartre vineyard, the only remaining and working vineyard in Paris - and a reminder that this district was once covered in vines.

In Rue Cortot we introduce Ros and Pete to our favourite little Musee Montmartre - which houses  changing exhibitions celebrating the art and life of Montmartre in the oldest house in the district - where, at different times, Renoir, Utrillo and Degas have all made their homes.

Parts of the front garden are being reconstructed. This new swing in this rather bland newly planted area marks the spot where Renoir painted his La Balancoire (girl on a swing) in 1876.

The back garden of the Musee Montmartre overlooks the old vineyard.

We all found the current exhibition, tracking the art, history and politics of the famous Montmartre Concert - Cabaret , Le Chat Noir, very interesting, and very helpful in understanding the history of the Paris Commune era that was the context for all the emerging art movements of the latter part of the 19th century.  Very few people must know about this precious little museum as there are no queues and few visitors...wonderful for us.

As we emerge into the crowds of tourists around Sacre - Couer we find some unexpected foodie delights, a wonderful coconut flavoured macaron for me (and a first try of a macaron for Ros).

..and some roasted saucisson on baguette for the boys.

The Basilique Sacre-Couer is crowded with tourists and touts today and a lengthy queue to view the interior and dome. We don't find the church is an architectural marvel - apart from its amazing setting, so we vote to just admire its distinctive exterior (and great views over Paris) today.

We pick a different route for our descent down the butte, that includes a peek at the Bateau Lavoir, Picasso's famous home and studio on Montmartre at one stage. At least the street artists are active in this district still today.

We enjoy lunch at a character filled cafe on Rue des Abbesses, before catching the Metro back to Opera - to emerge from the station to the awe inspiring sight of Charles Garnier's wedding cake of a gilded building.

From here we walk to the nearby Galleries la Fayettes on Boulevard Haussman and admire the gorgeous interior (and the gorgeous Aussie Simon Baker - now modelling for Givenchy).

After fighting our way past the queues of Chinese tourists spilling out of the designer handbag boutiques in la Fayette we made our way south through Place Vendome (noting the massive reconstruction underway of the old Ritz Hotel) to the fabulous Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore.  We walked as far as the Palais de l'Elysee before catching the Metro from Champs Elysees back to Hotel de Ville, and then time for a well deserved Hoegaarden at our new fave bar in Rue Veille du Temple.

Even the fabulously well heeled had to queue to enter Laduree for their afternoon macarons today.

For our last evening in Paris together we decided to have a sunset picnic on the banks of the Seine, on the pretty l'Isle de St Louis, with our bottle of St Emilion red, a gorgeous apertivo board and some of Victor's wonderful bread.

We were right beside Pont Louis Philippe which appeared progressively more spectacular as the sun was setting, as did the rest of this magical city!

We ended this wonderful night with one of Berthillon's salted caramel icecreams and a walk across to l'Isle de la Cite. We were lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful music by a classical duo as we crossed the bridge, just to the rear of Notre Dame - which looked stunningly beautiful in the late evening light.  What a magical city!!!       Nous aimons Paris

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