F- and I spent the day in Montmartre today, as I've been wanting to see it before leaving Paris. My last time here, I'd gotten a poor impression of the neighborhood - I remembered it as being singularly hectic, having to brace myself through crowds, and, at the end, not understanding what all the fuss was about and what there was even to see.
I'd thought it had just been something about the day or my mood at the time - but after today, I can't say my feelings have changed.
If you've ever heard or read about Montmartre you probably, like me, have it out as this tranquil Parisian neighborhood full or artwork and beret-clad artists. Not so the case. Surfacing from metro station Anvers, immediately you know you've come upon a well-trodden, tourist-central place. The walk up to Sacré-Cour is nearly as I remembered - full of clambering tourists and souvenir vendors clamoring for their attention.
The view from Sacré-Cour is fine- you get a sense of just how large Paris is, but it's hardly scenic. The cathedral itself is beautiful (though we skipped it today), and can be really worthwhile if you're joining at the right time, for a service.
The artist's square behind the church has essentially been overrun by restaurants and has an entirely commercial feel. In the streets moving further away from the city center, however, you might still find some of that seemingly-lost Montmartre charm.
The other notable sights in this area are the 'Love Wall' - a mural located in the Jehan Rictus garden square with “I love you” written in (supposedly) all the languages of the world. I suppose it’s worth a good photo if you can get one. Then there is, of course, the Moulin Rouge. From the outside, coming upon the famous 20th-century can be a bit under-whelming. There’s not much to see from the outside, save for the throngs of tourists milling about the street around the entrance. I’ve heard that the shows here can be quite worthwhile to attend, but otherwise, again, you’re essentially just coming for a photo opportunity.
Our highlight from this visit was that we seemed to have unsuspectingly come upon an Iceland fan camp zone, as today is the France vs. Iceland match here in Paris.
Hm - perhaps I sound a bit bitter with this post, and maybe I am, a little. My last full day in Paris, I feel like I want to spend time in all the places I’ve come to love while living here, and see all the things I haven’t gotten a chance to yet. Part of me, too, is sad at the realization that I will, perhaps, always be a foreigner in Paris.
I've been thinking a lot the past few days about going home, and what that really means. I wonder if I could truly start a life here.
What are the places you love the most?