Strolling around Montmartre:
Strolling around Montmartre:
It was the evening of July 17th, and I felt like I hadn't slept in days. Jet lag does that to you.
I found a nice little place to stay called The Hotel des Arts, checked in, and left my heavy suitcases in my room. Cleo asked if I cared to go for a walk and I said sure.
We took the subway up to Montmartre, and climbed the steep stairs to the street level. It was bustling with early evening activity.
It was anything but quiet. “We'll turn up this little street”, said Cleo and have something to eat at a quieter cafe...if you are hungry”.
“I'm starving “, I said as we strolled along, dodging people as we walked.
“You know that we are 130 metres above Paris right now”, said Cleo, “It's the 18th arrondissement in what they call the Right Bank District”. “I've heard of the Left Bank District”, I said. “That's south of the Sein”, said Cleo.
“At one time we would almost be out in the country side now...farm land all around here. There would have been fewer buildings, and pretty shabby ones at that.
Of course it attracted artists because rents were cheap...and so was the wine. It had a wild reputation back at the turn of the century.
We found the little quaint cafe that Cleo liked and sat down. Soon a waiter appeared with a white towel draped over his shoulder, just like in the movies.
“Merci”, said the waiter as he disappeared into the tiny bar. “Well, what do you think of Paris so far?” asked Cleo.
“I've never been to a city like this in my life”, I said “it's so busy and colourful”. “Pretty good for 2000 years old, huh?” said Cleo.
“Really? I didn't know it was that old. “Oh yes, it's been here a very long time”, said Cleo. “I have lived here for quite a while.
After completing my Fine Art degree at Harvard, I got married, it didn't work, I got tired of the States and came back here to live...that's my story! You must be exhausted, right? After we eat you'll probably want to get back to the hotel and crash.”
“Oh yeh”, I said, “That beer will probably put me to sleep but I'll have it anyway.”
I woke up and glanced at the clock on the night stand...7am. Where had the night gone? I was so tired when I had checked into the hotel that I couldn't sleep.
Cleo had worked as a Paris tour guide at one time so knew where all of the interesting places to see were located.
First stop was the Basilique du Sacre Coeur...an amazingly beautiful, white, domed church that rises high above the tiled apartment roof tops.
Inside it was cool and tranquil with much ornate decoration.
Then it was off to see the famous Moulin Rouge Burlesque house...the big red windmill is easy to see.
I didn't care to go in so just had a look from the street.
“Would you like to see Picasso and Van Gogh's studios?” asked Cleo.
“Oh I definitely would “ I said, and we headed off down a narrow side street.
When I saw them it was like seeing shrines...and I could imagine those two incredible artists coming out the doors of their studios...maybe to have a glass of wine, or eat a baguette with other artist friends.
I can only imagine what Montmartre would have been like in those days...ah to dream!
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Blair T. Paul
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