Ever since I was a little kid, I always had a strange fascination with the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. I’m not sure why, but it always appealed to me more than the Notre Dame Cathedral. In a lot of ways, I thought it had more of a presence because it is an all-white church on the top of a hill (the tallest point in Paris). I’ve always wanted to visit the Sacré-Coeur, but weather always stood in my way. There is practically no point in visiting if it is raining. Last week, I was finally able to explore the Sacré-Coeur and its neighborhood, Montmartre.
Some advice if you’re going to go to Montmartre– wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. I knew visiting the church would require walking up a giant hill, but I wasn’t expecting the whole neighborhood to be full of uneven cobblestones.
Montmartre is known for being the artsy neighborhood and it’s really quite charming watching artists paint on cobblestone sidewalks. There were so many pieces that I wanted to buy, but I had no idea how I would ever take it home with me back to the U.S.
Despite the fog (although it did remind me of San Francisco), my friends and I had a fantastic day exploring Montmartre. We feasted on warm pain au chocolat and coffee for breakfast, hiked to the Sacré-Coeur and visited the Musée de Montmartre. The museum is actually in the oldest house in Montmartre and artists like Pierre-August Renoir lived there. We learned a little bit of history about the neighborhood and saw a flurry of artwork from different time periods.
After our huge hike, I was determined to visit the bakery, Au Levain D’Antan. Au Levain D’Antan won the 2011 Best Baguette in Paris award. Every year a bakery is chosen and they must supply baguettes to the French President for the whole year. The baguette did not disappoint. It was crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy inside. Part of me wished that I lived close by and could eat them every day.
Close by the bakery is the “I Love You” wall inside Le Square Jehan-Rictus. The wall is made from lava tiles and has “I Love You” written in 250 languages. We had a lot of fun finding “I Love You” in our local languages (and posing while taking pictures). It was pretty much a perfect day and I highly recommend exploring Montmartre when it’s warm and sunny outside.