Paris 2013: Day 21 — Montmartre


Basilica of Sacre-Coeur in the Montmartre district.

Tuesday, 08/13/13

We wake at 9am – we love to sleep in late.   Apparently, we needed it too.   Neither of us is sleeping through the night.   I am sure most of it is due to staying up late and taking naps in the afternoon – not to mention that stray mosquito that came in through the open window we use as an air conditioner.

First order of business today is to recharge my phone with data and voice.  But Orange stores are all over the place, so we decide to proceed directly to the Metro and head off to Rue des Martyrs, just northwest of the Galeries Lafayette department store at Montmartre.


The guide book says, “This half-mile street, mostly uphill, is the spine of a neighborhood that offers magic in a compressed time and space.”


There certainly are some lovely buildings here!


Right by the Metro station, we found the church of Notre Dame de Lorette.


It is stunning!


Here is a closeup of the altar.

We are close to the neighborhood of Montmartre which is the home of the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur.  As we climb up the hill, we can see glimpses of the Basilica.


The Basilica of Sacre Coeur is where you find the tourists.

You can tell when you are close to the Basilica – the hills get steeper and the crowds get thicker.   As is common at many tourist attractions, we see lots of people with lots of children, pushing lots of strollers, all up or down hills of cobblestone streets.   Everyone has that “dopey” look one gets of being in the heat too long.    My DH and I are not really interested in visiting the Basilica (we have been there before), so we just wander around using a Rick Steves walking tour.


We eventually made it up the hill to get a good look at the Basilica…


…and a good look at the view of Paris (not to mention the line of people waiting to enter the Basilica).


Time for a coffee break — what a nice view!


In the main square of Montmartre, you see artists doing sketches of tourists at 10 Euros a piece. They are very busy today!


There are also a number of painters selling beautiful oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings. They do not seem to be doing as good as a business at the cartoonists but I could be wrong about that — there is certainly plenty of inventory to be seen!


We ended our day in Montmartre with a walk past the famous nightclub, Moulin Rouge!

By the time we walk our way down the hill, it is 6pm.   We take the Metro back to the apartment and change for dinner – we have 7:30pm reservations at La Fermette Marbeuf – a beautiful  French restaurant where the main dining room is wrapped in art-deco stained glass.  According to Tripadvisor, it is also a tourist trap with mediocre food, bad service, and a high tab.    Still, I want to see the stained glass dining room, so we go.


La Fermette Marbeuf.

We arrive at the restaurant on time for our reservation and are shown a nice table for two in the outside the main dining room.   My DH has asks, “Could we be seated in the main room?”   “No,” says our lovely and thin hostess with a sexy French accent, “The main room is fully booked.”   My DH says “Well, could we reschedule our dinner for an evening when there is an opening in the main room?”     She is a bit taken back – I think we have heard the limit of her English vocabulary.   She leaves us to gets the manager.    The manager, a young and equally thin French man in a tux, spoke to our hostess and we were seated immediately in the main dining room.  What was that all about, we wonder?  Taking advantage of tourists?


Inside the main dining room of La Fermette Marbeuf.


A closer look at one of the stained glass windows found in the main dining room at La Fermette Marbeuf.

My DH ordered the lamb, I ordered the steak.  After a long-ish wait, we get our entrees and they both were very good.


Lamb with couscous and artichokes. The lamb was cooked perfectly and was very tender.


Beef steak with Potato Dumplings. The beef was cooked perfectly and tender, too — but needed salt.

While waiting for our food, we spent the time in conversation with the mother and daughter couple at the table next to us.   They were from New York City.  We discussed our experiences in Paris as well as how great New York City can be.   They were lovely – perfectly dressed for a dinner in a fancy Parisian restaurant, the mother told us about her Wall Street job and her lovely teenage daughter told us about growing up in the city that never sleeps!     Both had a sophistication and a conversational ease that can only be honed from living in a large metropolitan city, I think.

For dessert, both of our tables ordered the Café Gourmand to share – a plate of small desserts served with either coffee or tea.    Ours came with coffee, a chocolate tart with a raspberry that was barely an inch-square, and the smallest possible crème brulee imaginable!   The mother/daughter’s dessert was the same but they also were given two vanilla financiers  (little cakes) !!!  “What gives?” asks my DH.


A café gourmand is a culinary concept aiming at proposing an espresso and a bunch of mignardises at the same time, served on the same plate. Ours is looking a little skimpy!

The lovely daughter immediately transferred one of her financiers to our plate.   My DH says “No, No, No – thank you, but unnecessary!   I only care if the dessert is chocolate!”  “Oh,” says the lovely teenager.  She digs into her purse and pulls out a cellophane wrapped chocolate muffin and sets it in front of my DH with her friendly and perfect smile!  She had been carrying it with her all day in the event she wanted a snack.   I said, “Don’t you want to save it for your plane trip to Nice tomorrow!”  She said, “No, I got it on our plane ride over here, they will probably give me another.”   We all thought that was funny — here we are at a fancy French restaurant just off the Champs Elysees and an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate muffin from New York City towers over our fancy and expensive, yet skimpy, Cafe Gourmand!   That’s funny, right?   Still, can you say “La rip-off!”

What was supposed to be an early evening for us, turned out to be a late evening – we arrived back at the apartment around 11pm.  Still, I set the alarm for 6:30am so we can catch the early train to Monet’s House and Garden in Giverny tomorrow morning.  My DH eats the chocolate muffin before bed, he said it was excellent!


An evening snack from New York City!

Quote of the day:  “Yeah, those trans-fats can keep a muffin moist for years!” – Anna


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