Sunday, 2 January 2011

Around Paris: Discovering Montmartre

Montmartre was our destination last weekend. With my daughter as my tour guide, I was about to discover much more about this area.

First stop: La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, or simply referred to as the Sacré-Coeur, to celebrate the feast day of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The Sacré-Coeur basilica ( Basilica of the Sacred Heart) was built at the end of the 19th century at the highest point on Montmartre, Paris. "Montmartre" means " mount of martyrs." Tradition has it that this is the place of the martydom of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris (late 3rd century) along with his companions.

The building of the basilica came about as Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury vowed to build a church consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Christ, in reparation for the sins committed. When France faced defeat in the war with Germany in 1870, a part of her was occupied by German troops. As far as these 2 gentlemen were concerned, the country's problems stemmed more from spiritual rather than from political causes. 
To get there, we took Metro Line 2 from the Etoile station and we exited on "Anvers," then walked up to catch the funiculaire. It was nice to have this group performing at the street corner, playing New Orleans Jazz music while we waited.

Sacré-Coeur, with its famous white wedding-cake like architecture, spectacularly stands out in the city-skyline of Paris. It is a sight that welcomes you as you ride into the city, after landing at Charles de Gaulle airport.

As soon as we got through the doors beneath the cornice, the policy on "no picture-taking" went into effect. It was a solemn mass - meaning that the parts of the mass were sang, with very high attendance. During the homily, the priest referred to Mary as "a woman of prayer and deep faith." Soon after, tourists and churchgoers filed out to explore the rest of Montmartre.

From the church's steps, we could see a panoramic view of Paris. There were all sorts of entertainers and hawkers below, probably just like when Jesus went to the temple, and it upset him that it had been converted into a market place.

Its village like streets, its cafés and restaurants, its painters on Place du Tertre attract many tourists, especially on the weekends.

Performing all her French-hit songs, this performer was a crowd pleaser and gatherer. Her CDs were selling fast after every mini performance. She accompanied herself with an old-fashioned music maker, that uses perforated song sheets to create the background music.

Located on the north side of the Sacré-Coeur, the section where the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, survived the French Revolution. The facade dates back to the 17th century and the bronze doors from 1980, by T. Gismondi.

Church interior - the church is built on a traditional Latin-cross plan, and is a mix of medieval and later styles. The nave is Romanesque, but is detailed with a 15th-century vault, flanked by aisles added in 1765 (north) and c.1838 (south).
The the choir ( not seen in this picture) has one of the earliest ribbed vaults in Paris (c.1147).

From the 12th century apse is this 20th century trio of stain glass, behind the main altar. Behind the altar is the tomb of Adelaide de Savioe, the nunnery's foundress and the mother of King Louis VI.
Among the themes on the stain glass windows...the cross and the Virgin Mary. 

As we walked a few meters away from the tourist area, going down little cobble-stoned streets, we discovered more churches, boulangeries (bakeries) and patisseries (pastry shops), café's, quaint shops, and other charming spots. This is really a lovely section of town with much to see and experience.

We stopped by for some macaroons. We rated them "very good!" If you want to try this place, come to 24 rue des Abesse 75018 Paris.

Because this church stood out, a different architectural style in the setting that it was in, we changed directions and went in for a visit. This is Eglise Saint Jean de Montmartre, situated at the foot of Montmartre. It is located at 19 rue des Abbesse 75018 Paris.

It was the first example of reinforced cement in church construction, built from 1894 through 1904. Architect Anatole de Baudot, a student of Viollet-le-Duc and Henri Labrouste, designed the church. "The brick and ceramic tile-faced structure exhibits features of Art Nouveau design while exploiting the superior structural qualities of reinforced concrete with lightness and transparency."

The Art-Nouveau stain glass was executed by Jac Galland according to the design of Pascal Blanchard.

When it comes to food, my daughter seems to be an expert. She said it was "a must to line up" at Le Grenier à Pain, because it was judged as the number 1 boulangerie for the best baguette! It is located at 38, rue des Abbesse 75018 Paris.

What to choose from this array of baked goodies was problematical. I went with the bread filled with apricots and goat cheese...loved it!

Here are the other bread products they make, aside from their famous baguette.

We stopped by here, too, on 40 rue Lepic 75018 Paris. Their vanilla, red-berries, cotton-candy flavored macarons were out of this world!

It had been a couple of hours since we got to Montmartre to hear mass and galavant around. Overfed and tired, it was time to rest our weary feet. But, we'll be back soon as there are more things to explore and to do here.


  1. You make the perfect tour guide Yogi! Many of us will be so delighted if you can personaly bring us to these places since our time is so limited to explore. Hoping to visit you soon.JMVDD

  2. Just let me know when you're coming. I'd be more than happy to take you around, Jaye.

  3. Yogs, one of these days...when I visit Paris again with Art or with Abbie, I hope you can be our tour guide. Of course, with the hope that you will be in town the next time I am in Paris again. We can never get together when I am in Paris. I'm in Parise but you're not there. hehehe

  4. Hopefully, that would be fun, Nanette.



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