Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exploring Montmartre

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

It's been awhile since I visited Montmartre so after seeing the "wall", I went up to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur for a view of the city of Paris. Many years ago I took the stairs to the Basilica but this time around I opted for the easy way up which is by funicular. The fare is similar to the metro. So it's best to buy a carnet of metro tickets if you're staying a few days in Paris.

In front of the Sacré Coeur a crowd of people spilled down the long flight of stairs. Street entertainers were having a field day, in particular, a young man who climbed up the lamp post and played with a soccer ball, oblivious of his precarious position as the crowd cheered him on. Across the horizon Paris lay in a haze. It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors.

Walking through narrow streets I passed cafés buzzing with activity. I thought I'd go down Rue Lepic to the Café des Deux Moulins and try their crême brûlée which is now called Amelie from the movie of the same name which was filmed there. But as with all the cafés in the neighborhood, there were no tables to be had. Better luck next time.

Rue Lepic is a picturesque street which goes down to Boulevard Clichy where the Moulin Rouge is located. I stopped by a flower shop at the corner to check out the early spring blooms. A colorful bouquet costs almost 10 euros.

I was distracted from my walk by another shop window where a cat was basking in the sun surrounded by works of art. What a lucky meow!

Sated from window shopping, I found myself on busy Boulevard Clichy and right in front of the Moulin Rouge.

Vincent Van Gogh used to live with his brother at 54 Rue Lepic during his Paris days and there's a plaque on the building to this effect. Another interesting place to visit in Montmartre is the Lapin Agile which was frequented by the likes of Picasso and Braque during their formative years as artists. It's in the opposite direction from Blvd. Clichy at 22 Rue des Saules at the Butte Montmartre.

"I like to look for things no one else catches".  Amelie

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Images by Charie

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"I love You" Wall

I didn't see the elevator at the Abbesses metro stop so I unwittingly went up the stairs which winds up 118 feet (or 200 steps according to Wikipedia). Abbesses is one of the deep stations in the Paris metropolitan system. I had to stop twice on the way up to catch my breath and rest my leg muscles. It was quite a climb! I heard the people behind me panting and moaning. We were definitely in Montmartre, high above the rest of Paris. And I came for a specific reason - to see the "I love you" wall or Le Mur de Je t'aime at Place des Abbesses. I had read an article about it on Valentine's day and I was intrigued. How serendipitous that I had this chance to be in Paris! The wall is just behind the entrance to the metro station.

Le mur is made of blue tile and scrawled across it are over 300 greetings of love in 250 languages. I recognized a few like Iniibig Kita and Te quiero. I did a search to find out about Ljubim te and learned that this is a Slovenian/Serbian greeting meaning "kiss you".  Alas, I didn't find the language of origin for Yiku Zolele.

As it was the lunch hour and the sun was shining in early March, many visitors were in the cozy size garden area, some with their sandwiches while schoolchildren discussed the messages on the wall with their teachers. A few couples sat across from the wall and were perhaps contemplating about love or at least, drawing inspiration from the generous ways in which to express "I love you".

The creators of the wall have this to say about it: "In a world marked by violence and dominated by individualism, walls, like frontiers, are usually made to divide and to separate people and to protect them from one another. On the contrary, The Wall is a link, a place of reconciliation, a mirror which reflects an image of love and peace."  Beautifully said!

For more information about the wall check this link:

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Images by Charie