Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Paris - Last Day: Montmartre

The last day in Paris dawned very reluctantly. The sun simply refused to join the party. But thankfully it didnt rain the whole day while threatening to any time! First we had to decide a place to go next, and then to go ahead and book tickets for the same. Our plans included Brussels, Amsterdam, Austria and Germany. Obviously all of this couldnt be achieved in the 4 days we had to ourselves. After considering a dozen different combinations we decided to go to Brussels via Eurolines (bus) then to Amsterdam (again by Eurolines) and then from Amsterdam to Frankfurt via train. Frankfurt figured in our plans because our guys at Oesterich Winkel were close by. The Eurolines booking was duly done at its office which we had already seen the previous day. From there we made our way to Montmartre.

We reached the station listed as the closest for Montmartre (pronounced as mu-makhth). The surroundings didnt look very appetizing. Looked like a seedy part of the city, but hardly 15 mins away though was the tourist haven of Montmartre. We first approached the area from the side of the Sacre Couer church. This church is set on a hill and this means that its a long tiring climb up to the top. The top of the hill offers a wide view of Paris, which I am sure would have been quite enchanting had it not been such a dull dark day. Once inside the church we decided to give our souls some rest by sitting silently on the pews (thats the word right?). I guess we got a bit too tranquil coz i ended up forgeting our precious shoulder bag where we were sitting. Luckily a stern church official had taken the bag for safe keeping and handed it over to us with friendly admonishments, which unfortunately made no sense to us since they were in French!

The white stone Sacre Couer atop the hill

Barely two minutes away from the Sacre Couer is the painter's hill. This is a bustling area full of street side artists, performers and tourists. Montmartre is supposedly last remaining village of Paris and the authorirites have made sure that its unique character is preserved. It is truly picturesque and many famous artists such as Renoir and Van Gogh lived a bohemian life here. Now of course the place bears unmistakable signs of being a tourist spot.

The painter's hill at Montmartre

A young girl getting her portrait done from one of the numerous street side artists

A musician entertains the crowd

We wandered around the quaint lanes and old houses on the hill for some time before making our way down from the other side. This area houses a world famous Paris attraction and whose windmill has no doubt been imitated all over world. Kolkata has one of it own. The Moulin Rouge. We satisfied ourselves with taking pictures from the outisde. The area all around the Moulin Rouge is the notorious red light district of Pigalle which beckons you with its many pleasures.

Moulin Rouge. The original one

We spent three whole days in Paris. One of the regrets we always had was that we couldnt cover the Chateau Versailles, probably due to poor planning. In spite of our wishes that people would tell us that it is an overhyped place, nobody did. Everybody praised the place as a must-see, which made us feel even worse. Anyway. Hota hai...something has to be left for the next trip :-)


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