On the cards today is sunset at Montmarte – with the grand dome of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur behind us and the metropolis of Paris sprawled below us. When we reach our stop, we see a bunch of young people queuing up for the tiny elevator at the end of the platform. Annoyed at their laziness and not wanting to wait we take the stairs. I carry the LO, while our dear friend RP and the husband carry the stroller and diaper bag between them. Ten minutes later we know why the young and healthy were waiting for the elevator and who the fools were. These stairs wind on and on. As we get out, the men ask me what the plan is. I want to take the LO to a park and not just any park, I want to take her to the park with the Le mur des je t’aime* – the wall with declarations of love in different languages. RP suggests we start with the park in front of us instead and voilà, the wall is right in front of us.
I would love to wander around so more before heading further up. Art history buffs know that Picasso, Vlamenck, Derain, Soutine, Modigliani, Van Gogh and countless others lived and worked in these narrow streets. Picasso painted one of his most noted works Les Demoiselles d’Avignon here. It was in Montmartre that Picasso and Georges Braque co-founded Cubism, one of the most famous and influential art movements of the 20th century. Renoir’s old home at 13 rue Cortot. It’s now the museum of Montmartre. We don’t do this. No one wants to be walking back up the hill after that subway stair climb.
Perched atop a hill, Montmartre was initially a rural village dotted with vineyards and windmills. The area’s picturesque appearance and its views of the metropolis below made it very popular with artists. I assumed that these creative people flocked to Montmartre to be inspired by these spectacular views, or that they were attracted by the cheap rents before they got rich and famous. Then I found out about the tax-free wine.
Vineyards have flourished on Montmartre ever since the Romans built a temple dedicated to Bacchaus, their god of wine, on the hill. At the end of the nineteenth century, Montmartre was covered with vineyards. Even the local nuns made wine. At this point, Montmartre was still officially outside the city limits so the wine wasn’t subject to Parisian taxes. It’s easy to see why and how this area became a popular place to drink. Today, the vineyard of Clos Montmartre is a tiny relic of those times. Every year the vineyard hosts the Fête des Vendanges. We are just in time for it. This Grape Harvesting festival is known to attract large crowds and I really am not sure if it would be the right place to take the LO. Had the husband known, we probably would not have gone, but he doesn’t know; we did go and she has a blast. We stayed around the steps of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre. There were lots and lots of happy people. People playing music. Stalls selling wine. A lot of people had brought their own bottles and cheese. Despite the free flow of wine, we did not have to deal with drunk revelers. We took the funicular to the top of the hill and then back down. I have never taken a funicular before. We paid our respects at the altar of the gorgeous basilica. The husband and RP climb three hundred steps to get to the great white dome, hang out with the gargoyles and take in the view. I made the LO my excuse and stayed down. RP says the climb down was harder and it gave him vertigo. Somehow, I am responsible because I suggested it. We make our way back to the funicular and down the hill. RP, the LO and I make our way out of the crowds, but the husband and “poussette”** are nowhere to be seen. I look at RP, he shrugs and says,” He was right behind me!” Then we see the husband walk straight past us in a hurry to, I think, catch up with us. Dinner is Thai food. Another point for being vegan. After dinner we take a “ride-hailing” “app-based” taxi back to the Latin Quartier. The taxi takes us through Pigalle and past the Moulin Rouge. When we get back to our hotel, the men go hang out at Place de Contrescarpe while the LO and I stay in our room and get ready to wake up beautiful.
* Le mur des je t’aime – I Love You Wall
** poussette – baby stroller