The Montmarte neighborhood, in the northern part of Paris, was on our agenda so a Rick Steve-like tour, led by hubby, became our urban exercise for another day of exploration. For me, the highlight of our visit to Montmarte was a tour of the Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica, sitting atop Paris’ highest natural point at 420-feet. On a clear day this five-domed Roman-Byzantine-looking basilica can be seen from many vantage points in the city.
Although this spiritual center has an ancient air to it, it’s only a century old, taking 44 years to build. We had heard that the views from the tower were not to be missed, so although it was a warm day we decided to tackle the 300 steps up a narrow circular stone staircase, this after climbing the 288 steps up to the door of the basilica. As I wound my way upward, I found myself wondering who else had traversed these worn stone steps over the past 100 years.
Back at ground level, we wandered through a local art fair, down intriguing little roads and alleyways, stopped by the Moulin Rouge nightclub, which has quite its own history, and strolled through Pig Alley, the red-light district. A local creperie became our lunch of choice before we left the Montmartre neighborhood.
After visiting the Louvre Museum we weren’t anxious to rub elbows with thousands of other tourists again, but we also weren’t willing to leave Paris without visiting Versailles, now a wealthy suburb of the City of Light, dating from the 11th century.
Versailles, once a center of government, is now a national landmark. First built by Louis XIII as a hunting lodge and private retreat for his family in 1623, it was later enlarged into a royal palace by Louis XIV. The Grand Trianon, a smaller château that sits on the grounds and within its own park, was built at the request of Louis XIV, a quiet little place where he and his guests could enjoy light meals.
Although it was interesting to tour the royal palace, we literally walked shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow tourists throughout the château. It was not surprising that we all breathed a sigh of relief as we moved into the huge gardens. Although rain was threatening, the groves, gardens, and fountains were delightful. We visited on one of the Garden of the Spectacles days, when the myriad fountains spout to the rhythm of the classical music being carried through the gardens.
We have found Paris to be magical, filled with romance, culture, beautiful sights, and fabulous foods and wines, but we were anxious to get out into the French countryside and explore some of the small villages. Our five days in the City of Light had come to an end.
24 thoughts on “The City of Light ~ Part Trois”
Looks like your tour guide did an excellent job! Too bad about the crowds at Versailles, but you couldn’t go to Paris without seeing it.
You are right on both counts Gayle. The gardens at Versailles are stunning.
Love your descriptions! I would do Versailles, too, though would hate the crowds… deep breath… and you seemed to do very well! I look forward to seeing/reading about the French countryside!
So lucky that you had your own “Rick Steves” along with you—I’ll bet Terry did a great job! What a feast for the senses Paris has been—but I can understand how you would be ready for some relaxing time in the countryside. I wonder how many gardeners it takes to keep Versailles so perfectly manicured?
The gardens far exceeded the crowds of the palace, especially on a day with the fountains flowing and classical music filling the air. But the French countryside with the rolling vineyards and quaint little villages filled with history have been breathtaking.
What a lovely tour, LuAnn. The Basilica is magnificent. Your mention of the Palace of Versailles reminds me of a photo of myself standing in front of a massive fireplace there. I look so tiny. 🙂 I loved all those chandeliers.
The palace was so elegant and the Hall of Mirrors with all the chandeliers was spectacular. For me, the gardens were the real treat with the fountains flowing and classical music wafting through the air.
Oh I love Montmartre! I love everything about Paris! My most favorite place in the world. Enjoy LuAnn!
Paris has been much more special than I ever dreamed it to be!
I have loved your posts LuAnn!
You took me back there with your lovely photos and post. Thanks so much.
My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by!
LuAnn, you are doing a perfect job with blogging on your trip:) I appreciate learning the history of what you are seeing with your brief descriptions and a few photos:) We are enjoying traveling with you and not overwhelmed (if you get my meaning). One has to pause and imagine just who came before in all these ancient places. Oh, if the walls could talk! Sure looks like you are having a wonderful time:) Thanks for taking us along:)
My pleasure Pam! It has been fascinating so far.
Im with Pam, I too am enjoying the touring with you minus the you know who 🙂 The city of lights has been on my list even before we retired. Thankfully Im touring with you now and getting lots of tips and tidbits.
Beautiful capture of the city of love and lights.
Thanks MonaLiza! You and Steve would love Paris.
I think you have done Paris up right! You must be ready now for some quieter places and wider exploring. Looking forward to the next installment of the European adventure.
We loved every minute in Paris but the French countryside has been spellbinding!
That’s wonderful Luann!
Ow, I had a Paris painting before but my uncle has it now. I couldn’t bring it with me because I always move from one place to another. 🙂
That really what Paris is, it’s lovely, magical, and romantic; but you can’t really pinpoint why. It’s just there, in the sights, the people being happy to be there, and just there in the atmosphere.
I remember. I excused myself from my group to walk around by myself. I walk all the way to that Moulin Rouge, only to find that’s all I could really see. 🙂 My group of friends were mad because it took me a long time, and I kind of got lost too. 😀
I am finding that part of the adventure is getting lost in both France and Italy. I think in great part it is the people and the joy that radiates from them.