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Published: August 13th 2013
Basilique Sacre Coeur
Our last full day in Paris and there were still a number of places we wanted to see so taxis were the go. Not cheap but not any more expensive than back home. Today we fell in love with Paris. Montmartre is beautiful and just how we imagined Paris would be. Undulating cobble stone streets, inviting cafes and beautiful old homes. Everything here has warmth and character including our first stop, the Basilique de Sacre Coeur. It is one of the few buildings in Paris not made of limestone but of a type of travertine and is a beacon of light on one of Paris' highest peaks. A short distance away are artists busy painting and offering their work for sale. We came across one elderly artist whose work was uncannily similar to that of a piece of art we have at home that was bought by my Mum and Dad when they were in Montmartre many, many years ago. I wonder?
We stopped at a cafe, choose a table in the glorious sunshine and drank our coffee while we watched the artists at work. We took another brief walk around the streets of Montmartre and then it was time
Armed soldier guarding Basilique Sacre Coeur.
for another taxi, this time to la tour Eiffel where we had a tour booked mid afternoon. We hadn't been able to book a ticket on line without it being part of an organised tour and it worked out for the best. The line to get tickets was massive (as expected) and we had an excellent Irish tour guide . . . as you do in Paris. (In fairness we were on an English speaking tour.) She was not only a font of knowledge on the Eiffel but also on French history in general. When we reached the second level she pointed out all of the Paris landmarks and shared with us her knowledge of their own unique place in French history. At this point the 'guided' part of the tour was over and we could choose whether or not to take the lift up to the summit of la tour Eiffel. We were there so . . . why not! The summit is 324 metres and from there you have a 360 degree view of Paris. The Arc De Triomphe, which is massive at ground level, looked like a miniature replica as did the River Seine, dotted busily with
Artist at Montmartre.
sightseeing tourist boats. Quite a sight.
Once we were down at the base of la tour Eiffel we decided (okay I decided) that we had time to visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery. So . . . another taxi! Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and is the final resting place for many famous people including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, George Bizet, Collette, Yves Montand, Frederic Chopin and Edith Piaf. We hadn't organised a guided tour and the information centre had run out of maps so we had to commit to memory from the information board the location of those grave sites that we wanted to visit. Now our record of reading maps is not good let alone committing one to memory but surprisingly we did okay and managed, in the limited time we had, to pay our respects to amongst others, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. Admittedly we did play a little 'follow that group of people it looks like a tour group'.
Another exhausting but fantastic day. Given that we only had four full days in Paris we think we did pretty well in seeing most of Paris' major attractions. We're exhausted but that's
Streets of Montmartre.
besides the point! Just as a quick aside, interestingly we haven't seen any of the gypsies that we've heard so much about. A few dubious sorts asking us for signatures on petitions but otherwise nothing. There are beggars on the streets. Many are young Muslim women who kneel and put their hands down on the pavement, as if in prayer, and place a cup in front of them for donations. Terribly sad. What has been interesting, and a little unnerving, is the number of heavily armed soldiers patrolling many of the major tourist attractions. Not la tour Eiffel or Arc De Triomphe, where you will see police patrolling but the cathedrals. Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur were teaming with soldiers. It would appear that they are considered high risk terrorist targets perhaps? Maybe I'm just letting my imagination get the better of me but I am curious as to why this is the case. Interesting!
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