Paris pt. 1 – Montmartre
Last week, the boyfriend and I headed to Paris for a four-day trip to visit his sister, who’s currently doing an exchange semester there. We flew in just two weeks after the terrible attacks, and I will say that you could feel the tension in the air. We had to go through passport control before boarding, there were heavily armed police and military in the streets (which probably also had to do with the climate conference that same weekend), and we had to go through a security control upon entering a museum. But Paris is nothing if not resilient, and – as always – we really enjoyed our trip. It would take a lot more to take away this amazing city’s aura of loving and enjoying life to the fullest.
During my bachelors’ studies, I also did an exchange semester in Paris – that’s now seven years ago (gosh, I’m old!). I’ve always loved to come back, and this time around, I had plans to revisit some of my favorite spots around the city. We stayed in a small hotel on Montmartre in an impossibly tiny room, but at least it was only a 10 minute walk to Sacré Coeur. We arrived Saturday morning, and after dropping our stuff off at the hotel, decided for a walk up Montmartre.
We started with a lunch on Place du Tertre, in view of the artists on the square.
Nothing kick-starts a Paris visit like a glass of wine!
After a quick lunch, we roamed the square and watched the artists. When I studied there, I always wanted to get my portrait drawn on Place du Tertre, so we kept our eyes open for a talented artist. You’ll find a lot of glossy, un-lifelike drawings, and of course boatloads of not-so-funny caricatures, but every now and then, you can spot a guy or lady with some talent – or at least we did, and after some haggling, I sat down to be drawn.
It might not look like it in the photo, but I really like how the portrait turned out – it’s very free-hand and artsy, not as glossy as the one you can see behind me, for example. It seemed to take forever to complete, though, and while I was sitting there, a lot of the passers-by stopped and watched for a couple of seconds, some even minutes – it felt super weird!
From Place du Tertre, it’s just a short walk before you turn the corner and see this majestic sight:
We were lucky – it was a warm, sunny day with cloudless blue skies, perfect for meandering the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. Not only was the cathedral just picture perfect, we also got an amazing view over the city.
After exploring Montmartre during the early afternoon, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and a quick change of clothes before dinner. We took the stairways on the side of Sacré Coeur, which lead through winding gardens. Wouldn’t you just love to live in one of these apartments?
Before dinner, we headed to a small wine bar, La Cave des Abbesses. This little gem is a wine store in the front and a teeny tiny wine bar in the back. We got there early, so we were almost the only ones there, but by the time we left for dinner, the place was crowded with locals, which to me is a seal of approval.
We started out with two glasses of red.
I can’t have wine without some nibbles, so we ordered a small selection of cheese and charcuterie. Since the boyfriend doesn’t like cheese (I know, so weird!), I had all the cheesy goodness to myself, while he nibbled on the delicious ham. Yum!
Together with the lovely baguette – it just tastes best in France! – I would happily eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (maybe no wine for breakfast, though). But we had plans, so we headed down the road, or should I say, down memory lane, to a place I used to come to a lot when I lived in Paris: Le Relais Gascon.
It’s a cozy restaurant, specializing in the cuisine of South Western France. You’ll find classics of French cooking here, but what they are famous for is their “salades géantes”, huge bowls of salads loaded with veggies, cheese, bacon, you name it, and topped with the most amazing, thin, garlicky slices of fried potatoes.
Now THAT’s what I call a salad!
Of course, we couldn’t forget the wine either.
It was still early, but after an early rise and a day filled with travelling, walking, and lots of wine, we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel – already looking forward to cup of “café”, a croissant, and another brilliant day in Paris!