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Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre – Jun 23, Wednesday
What a productive day! We woke up at eight knowing that we still had a lot to be accomplished in Paris. First thing in our itinerary is Sacré-Coeur, a beautiful basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ. Consecrated in 1919, Sacré-Coeur stands on top of the hill called Montmartre. Montmartre is another favorite spot in Paris I enjoy visiting. Tiny streets full of small shops and restaurants and street artists who are eager to paint portraits, to sell their artworks. As we climbed up the stairs from the metro station Anvers at the bottom of the hill, through the busy street Rue de Steinerque, at the final flights of stairs to the basilica, we were stopped by a filming crew. One English speaking man frantically waved at us and asked us to ‘disappear’. Disappear? How? We were not going to give up visiting Sacré-Coeur because of this! During the short film break, he came to us and said, “When I ask you to disappear, you have got to disappear. We can’t have you in the camera!” I suppose that makes sense because we saw some nuns in costume walking down the stairs. It would not make sense to see some tourists in modern clothing with a super huge Nikon camera on the big screen. Fortunately, a friendlier English speaking lady with a strong French accent came to the rescue and showed us an alternative route to reach Sacré-Coeur. Now, that is the right way to crowd control.
On our way to the basilica through the back street, I was hit by the sight of broken beer bottles and dried spilt beer on the ground as well as the pungent smell of dried urine. France ought to build more toilets. As a tourist, I am finding it hard to locate a restroom. In contrast to this inconvenience sight, the basilica is beautiful in her glorious white color. Too bad, no photo was allowed inside. There seemed to be no queue going up to the dome. But since we have already gone up to the towers of Notre-Dame yesterday, we gave it a miss.
After visited Sacré-Coeur, we took a stroll on the streets of Montmartre. The area is so named because of the martyrs who were tortured and killed around year 250. Today, this hilly area is full of tourists and street artists. On the day of our visit, Cynthia was looking forward to visit Espace Montmartre Salvador Dalí – an exhibition of Dalí’s painting and sculpture. It cost 10€ to get in, a rather steep entrance fee for a relatively small exhibition. But if you admire Dalí’s artwork like we do, you ought not to miss it.
Built in 1977, Pompidou Centre draws over seven million visitors a year featuring works from artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Miró, and Pollock. Schools of Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism – the modern art, which out of all the genres, it is a period that both Cynthia and I seem to be able to appreciate better. Though it cost 12€ (and 5€ for audio guide) to get in, we feel that it was money well spent. Especially when Picasso museum was closed for renovation, Pompidou Centre was as close as we could get to Picasso (avid readers may recall how unlucky we are with museums that feature Picasso’s works). Below are some of the photos I took inside Pompidou Centre (and the Dalí exhibition as well).
By the time we were done with Pompidou Centre, it was in the early evening. The sun was still up and we felt that we still had the energy to visit one more tourist attraction spot. And so, we have decided to head to Eiffel Tower.
Eiffel Tower and Corsica Food for Dinner
What is visiting Paris without being up close and personal with the 324 metre tall Eiffel Tower? Cynthia thinks that Eiffel Tower is overrated. I think that it is rather ugly. But we visited it nonetheless.
It was a rather long walk from the metro station to the tower (we did not take the faster train that costs more). We had no intention to go up the tower looking at the long queue under the sun. Instead, we found a shaded bench to rest our feet underneath this iconic Eiffel Tower. There were many tourists, many souvenir sellers, policemen with dogs, locals biking in the area – a lively location indeed. It was a warm day and it looked as though the summer have finally arrived.
As the long day drew to the end, inevitably we thought about dinner. Not too far away we hoped. From the guidebook, I managed to find a Corsica restaurant nearby, just a few stations away. The food was delicious, although the service was so so (probably because the way we dressed). I had a 300 gram organic veal. I know I should be a vegetarian. But the meat dish in France is too good to miss. I picked a restaurant to taste Corsica dishes because the island of Corsica was one of our next destinations. But that is a story for a later day.
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PS. Thank your for reading our journal and feel free to drop a comment or two. You may wish to view our photo collection for day 4 too.