Thursday, 18 April 2013

Encore France: Day 16, Up a Hill

What a lazy, cruisy day - what a day of few photographs but heaps of lovely mindprints.
 
Today we woke late, and then ambled along the river for a while, just taking in the boats plying their way backwards and forwards along the Seine, the lovers sharing books and baguettes, the children so chic in their mini-sized timeless classics. Freewheeling they call it, I suppose.
 
We still hadn't visited the Montmartre area or - sacre bleu - Sacre Coeur, so we decided to hop on a bus and head that way.
 
As I said before, our favourite way to get around Paris - other than by foot, of course, which is far and away the number one way to see this stunning city - is by bus, where you can actually watch the street scenes as you go. In this way we spotted this lovely church, the Eglise de la Saint-Trinite de Paris. So very beautiful. Looking at this photograph, I do wish we have left the bus at the next stop and spent some time exploring it.


Eglse St-Trinite de Paris
 
In due course we arrived at a bus stop which would allow us to wander through the laneways and sidestreets before making our way up the hill - and what a hill!  
 

The busy steps leading up to Sacre Coeur
 
 
We did catch the little train to the top of the hill, but we were amazed at the crowds filling the steps, a couple of whom were playing guitar and singing. The atmosphere was just wonderful.
 
We had been warned, though, to be on the lookout for the touts who ply their "trade" at the foot of the hill. They sell those little string friendship bracelets. Well, calling it selling is a bit of a misnomer. Many people find that by the time they have given a polite "No, thank you", there is already a piece of string tied around their wrist and payment is then demanded. We kept our hands in our pockets and walked on. 
 

Magnificent Sacre Coeur
 
 
Okay, it is one of the most photographed buildings in the world and instantly recognised, but when you get there you realise why it is so - it's fantastic! 
 
 

Sacre Coeur - the outside as beautiful as the inside.
 


 
 
Was there a downside? You bet there was. Of course there are going to be a zillion tourists visiting whenever you go. However, while we were there the place was so busy that our visit was more like being on a conveyor belt. Huge tour groups seemed to fill every space, and so we had to, basically, fall in with everybody else and shuffle along, being able to only pause briefly as we went for fear of being totally run over by one of the many extremely loud, extremely pushy groups. The behaviour of a couple of groups - and for the sake of international diplomacy I won't say where they were from - was, quite frankly, appalling in what is, after all, a church: young couples snogging, a couple of little boys tearing around on scooters, aggressive-sounding conversations being carried on at top volume, mobile phones ringing with a myriad different but always jarring tones. We were glad to get back outside. We will revisit, but when we do it will be an early morning visit.
 
By now it was early afternoon. We wandered around Montmartre for hours, enjoying the atmosphere even if it is almost a cliche because everyone seems to be looking for Amelie. It was a lovely day nevertheless, but nothing more for me to report here.
 
See you tomorrow.