Monday, April 24, 2006

Montmartre: height and light


When the year turns to April or October, no matter where I am, my mind turns to walking the hills of Montmartre because of the way the sun slides down over the city in a low arc at this elevation (just 430 feet, but it feels high compared to the rest of the city).

The Butte, as Parisians call Montmartre, is the highest point in Paris and is on the Right Bank (north of the Seine). This means a lot of fairly steep uphill climbing to get to the top, often on cobblestones. You can see the hill, and its beacon, the Sacré-Cœur basilica, from many parts of the city. My favorite view of it is through the clock window at the Orsay museum on the Left Bank.



It is in the 18th arrondissement (Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, each with its own mayoral center) and is where the movie Amelie was set.

Rue Foyatier is a tiny pedestrian street that is mostly stairs as you rise closer to the peak of the Butte (Pl du Tertre). With the Sacré-Cœur basilica (built from 1876 to 1912) in front of you (more like “above” you) you climb the step-street while the shortest and steepest métro line in Paris – the “funicular” -- runs up and down the same hill at your right.


Views from the Sacré-Cœur’s turrets, or from its democratic steps where you sit next to high schoolers playing guitar and resting their young legs, are some of the best in the city.


Traces of the artists who lived and worked in Montmartre (Picasso, Pissaro, Van Gogh, Renoir, Utrillo, among them) can be found in their graves at the small St. Vincent cemetery and the larger Montmartre cemetery (some, not all, were buried here), in houses they painted or lived in, such as La Maison Rose painted by Utrillo and still pink, and the Montmartre Museum where the actor Rosimond lived.


La Maison Rose by Maurice Utrillo

There is a constant reminder that Paris is a city for tourists: the tour bus. I’m not one who enjoys boarding a tour bus or watching buses line up at Paris hot spots. So I go to Montmartre on a weekday and wander the streets without as many tour buses blocking my view.

All photos courtesy of Donica Detamore and Ginnie Hart

23 comments:

Donica said...

Ruth,

Thanks for introducing us to Montmartre during our October trip, and then taking us back again in April with Don....when we had a birthday trip to remember! Montmartre is one of my fondest memories of both trips.

Many thanks for the memory and your current post that brings all of the memories back again!!

Don said...

I agree Donica with everything you said! I loved sitting at that cafe in the square and drinking coffee and watching the world walk by. I am ready to sit somewhere with you again to catch up and do some more of that world watching!

Ginnie said...

Don't forget the ice cream (or was I the only one who had it :). I agree that Montmartre is one of my happiest memories of Paris. The basilica is so white and the views are breath-taking! Yes, height and light. You already said it!

Rauf said...

Read so much about it in books, most fascinating City, an artists paradise. Enjoy yourself Ruth.

Ruth said...

Donica: You're welcome. And how do I begin to thank you . . .

Don: We have some great memories together in Paris, and many of them with G & D fortunately.

Ginnie: Oh yes, and ice cream! And Dali, and . . .

Rauf: Thank you. I'll bet I won't see egrets, but maybe a pigeon or two.

Rauf said...

23rd or 25th was Shakspeare's Birthday ? I was deeply touched by your first post about Shakespeare & Company. People like Mr. Whitman renew my faith in humanity. Is he still around ? Did you ask him how he is related to Walt Whitman ?
This opens the floodgates Ruth. I have enjoyed Walt Whitman's poetry ( had a book 'green leaves ?)
Does the Writer's or the artist's personal life affect your appreciation of his or her work ?
I had a blog on that a couple of months ago, I'll locate it and tell you.

Shakespeare & company is such a lovely article Ruth, I was smiling all the way.

Candy Minx said...

I am enjoying the photos and notes so much. I look forward to more, am still catching up on all your notes...

greetings from chicago,
Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/

Ruth said...

Rauf, so glad you liked the Shakespeare & Co post. Yes, his birthday was just a couple days ago. I did not ask about his relationship to Walt, but it has always been just a hint and doesn't appear in his printed material anywhere. But he could be modest. He is still alive and well, as of last week. His daughter Sylvia (very young, just in her 20s?) is hosting a literary workshop in June, which I'd love to go to, but couldn't get away from work then.

Maybe the book you're thinking of is "Leaves of Grass."

I often appreciate a writer's work without their story, but it is so much better to know something of the life. I look forward to seeing your post about that.

Ruth said...

candy minx: thanks for stopping by! I visited your interesting site, and I'll leave a note sometime soon. There is so much to think about . . .

I assume you came over to me from Rauf's site?

Akash said...

Wow, I've got to get my ass to Paris!

Ruth said...

amazing place.

Rauf said...

I am sorry Ruth, yes its 'Leaves of grass' 40 years now I forgot. Highly imaginative and moving poetry. The book was in a bad shape. He was fascinated with French too, perhaps never visited France. His poetry was more appreciated in Europe than in America which was still conservative.

I located my post I told you about

http://whitesroad.blogspot.com/2006/01/appreciation.html

Rauf said...

http://whitesroad.blogspot.com/
2006/01/appreciation.html

its in January archive Ruth.

Ruth said...

Rauf, thank you for the link. I was intrigued by the essay you wrote. I will comment there. I certainly understand your sentiments.

Rachel said...

Well, for someone who doesn't like tour buses, the way you keep talking, pretty soon, you're going to need a tour bus of your own to fit all the people who want you as their tour-guide in Paris!

Ruth said...

Rach, hee hee! How sweet!

rachel said...

I just wanted to brag that one of my neighbors is an architect, and he was showing me his portfolio last weekend, and he designed the additions to the Chateau Bologne in Paris for some King in Egypt, I think. Are you familiar with this chateau? His portfolio was astounding. One of those moments when you think you just have normal neighbors, and then you realize you are surrounded by geniuses. That's what it's like in my neighborhood.

Ruth said...

Rachel, no, I don't know that chateau. How exciting! I will look into it, and if it's in the periphery of the city, will try to snap a photo! Maybe you can get the address from him?

Ruth said...

Rachel, check out this site for more info about Chateau Bolougne! http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/visit/visit-boulogne-chateau.htm

lesleyanne said...

i love that going to paris so many times has enabled you to find your 'favorite view' of the sacre ceour [[sp??]].

rachel said...

I wonder if it's the same chateau- I thought a Prince from Egypt lived there; I'll have to find out! The picture doesn't exactly match up to his designs, but there are enough similarities that it could be the one.

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