So it was a visit to Montparnasse or Montmartre…..Montmartre won. Maybe it was a height thing? With the hill of Montmartre being 130 metres above sea-level and the Sacré Coeur Basilica being an additional 83 metres high, it fits in with the other “high” sites I have visited so far; Eiffel Tower (more on that in a future blog), Arc de Triomphe, and the Grande Roue de Paris Ferris wheel.
I decided I would walk to Montmartre from where I am staying in the 16th Arrondissement and then still try to walk up the 237 steps to the foot of the basilica. So off I went with my trusty and slightly dogeared map securely in hand. Walking in Paris is absolutely lovely if not a little challenging. Paris does not believe in four-corner stops. It seems that every “corner” is really a roundabout and you must walk all around the circle to get to the opposite side where you hope the street you’re on continues, that is if you can find the street sign!
I am a fast walker and once I have a destination in mind, I have a tendency to have blinders on and block out what is around me. Not such a beneficial trait when in Paris on holiday! Fortunately something made me turn my head and see the absolutely beautiful Parc Monceau. I decided to take a detour and check it out. This is a gem of a park! Filled with gorgeous ponds, flowers and Romanesque structures. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this park. It was filled with couples in love, mothers pushing babies in strollers, cyclists taking a quick rest, children laughing on the carousel, older men sitting on benches catching up on their gossip. These are residents, not tourists, enjoying their lovely city and I, a tourist, couldn’t help feeling a little bit like an interloper, yet at the same time so glad that I had decided to take the long way and had stumbled upon Parc Monceau.
After taking a bit of time to sit and relax, I was off again. In addition to seeing the basilica in the distance at the top of the hill, you know you are heading in the right direction as all the streets start to slightly incline.
On the way I passed the Montmartre Cemetery. Many famous people are buried here, including Alexandre Dumas, the son. He wrote The Lady of the Camellias which the opera La Traviata by Verdi is based on. It is an interesting cemetery to walk through because part of it is positioned under a bridge.
As I started getting a little breathless I was wondering if I would be able to make it up the 237 steps. I could always take the funicular up if I had to. I tried to follow the map as closely as possible and was expecting to arrive at my destination soon when all of a sudden I turned a corner and realized I was there! In “taking the long way” I had inadvertently walked through residential streets that approached the church from the side instead of the front. I didn’t have to take 237 steps up!
Now I did end up having to take 300 steps up to the Dome.
But still the long way isn’t always the hard way…..
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