For the last leg of our Paris trip, we stayed in the hilly, arty Montmatre district. And although I loved how different this part of the city felt, with its winding streets, slightly wild, untamed, and gritty feel as well as the beautiful Sacre Coeur Basilica, I do not think I will ever want to stay here again.
It was a terrible tourist trap, and besides also being home to many of Paris’ less reputable establishments, it is also next door to Pigalle, the red-light district. K and I were repeatedly approached by unsavoury characters who repeatedly attempted to either fleece us or intimidate us, and I was very sad at how these awful jobless migrants marred the otherwise serene beauty of the hilly area.
The day started rather uneventfully and prettily, actually. We were staying in the safest part of the Monmatre area, just a 30 minute winding walk up the hill and to the Basilica.
It was really cold that day, but the walk was so interesting ! We passed by curio stores and bookshops with lovely hand-painted signs which looked over a hundred years old, pass the crazily overcrowded but eerily beautiful Montmatre Cemetery (we would have stopped to wander but we were short on time and K is a little superstitious) I could not help but marvel at how varied and how interesting the streets of Montmatre were.
It is also the home of Moulin Rouge and a few other sister windmills. I am a fan of the movie but the real life version looked rather quiet and a little run down to me. No matter, I think all Moulin’s are sweet !
We also spotted a Gontran Cherrier on the way up, and decided to stop for one of his famously flaky and buttery croissants.
Here’s the irony of it all. Those sold at his Singapore outpost, Tiong Bahru Bakery (yes, one and the same!) were much nicer.
They gave us the last, sad, slightly burnt looking specimen on the rack and told us that we would have to wait 20 minutes for the next batch – which is what we should have done, but .. well, we didn’t have the time. So it was that we were sadly disappointed by the limp and oily distant cousin of our favourite croissants in Singapore 😦
The tarts looked to-die-for, though, and the sandwiches too ! But I’ve realized that they are all available here locally too, so I shall eat my way through Tiong Bahru Bakery here first.
Finally after all that weary trudging, we reached the top of the hill and the little plaza surrounding the Basilica. The first thing we heard and saw were the strains of an accordion as a little street troupe started up their renditions of some folk tunes and the mood was just so festive and wonderful it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The bright colours of the shop just popped out at us too ! Every corner was delightful and we were just spoilt for choice – should have stopped for tea but we wanted to make it for Mass at the Basilica so we passed in the end.
Post Mass, which was, by the way, one of the most hauntingly reverent and sacred I have attended (after Notre Dame and St Peter’s Church), we were feeling really light hearted and spiritually rejuvenated, so we set out to enjoy the surrounding Christmas Market, sharing a paper cup of Chocolat Chaud and just holding hands, smiling at little children and their bags of chichi (churros) dusted with icing sugar while their parents chowed down hot savoury saucissons.
One shop caught my eye, and before I knew it, I was excitedly running my fingers along jars of hand-made clay macarons, ice cream cones and gummy bears so super realistic I felt hungry looking at them !
Ah, the non-pareil donuts are my favourite ! I left the shop with two personalized candy bracelets for my sister and I – cutest souvenirs of the day. 🙂
Winter days are short, and before we knew it, it was time to walk down those famous Montmatre stairs and back to our cozy hotel room.
What can I say, even Parisian stairs have a certain je ne sais quoi about them ! 🙂 Incredibly photogenic.
My husband, being emo about the fact that we would be leaving for SG the next day (although God knows why, considering his ongoing petition for Asian food :))
And my favourite shot that day !
Love how the angle makes my legs look so super long! And in case you’re thinking, gosh those boots look so comfy, they were ! The perfect winter Sherpa boots, furry and fluffy – made sure that even if the rest of me was freezing, my toes were still toasty warm.
No popsicle toes for me ! 🙂
This post is one of the last Paris ones, and it’s with a heavy heart that I finish them up, because every time I read them I think about how much I miss the country already. But there’s such a lot of world to explore, and I’d already been to Paris twice in the same year ! I want to go to as many countries as I can before I become a mom – I can’t imagine toting a screaming infant less than two years old to anywhere other than the immediate region.
Really hope you guys have enjoyed my Paris posts ! I’ve tried my best to bring the emotion of every moment, the tastes, the colours and the magic of the country into my posts so I can share exactly how much and how deeply I love this city.