We survived the night, albeit restlessly but we were both relieved to find the prudish statue still facing into the room – she may have done a full revolution, I guess we’ll never know. We certainly didn’t stick around to find out. After a quick breakfast, we locked and loaded and made our way to Bruges station for a train to Brussels where we changed for a train to Paris. In a few short hours, we were there and in a taxi headed for our home for the next week.
The write up on airbnb had warned that the place wasn’t much from the outside so when we found the unremarkable door that opened onto a long corridor created by the narrow gap between two buildings, I wasn’t too alarmed. To our delight, it gave way to a sweet, little, hidden courtyard dominated by a plum tree (apparently beautiful in full bloom) and the smiling face of our host Beryl.
Beryl showed us into and around her So Frenchy So Chic apartment which she was in the process of vacating for our exclusive occupation. It is just cute as a button with absolutely everything we need and in the lovely neighbourhood of Lower Montmartre. For the price, we would never find another place so authentic, well equipped and downright gorgeous in Paris. Beryl has also left us with an ample supply of maps and brochures, food and local advice. I’m already regretting that I ever have to leave!
The first thing we did was unpack completely. If we’re going to be here for a week, no need to live out of a suitcase so we might as well make ourselves at home. We lounged a little then hatched a plan for the remainder of the day deciding to keep it simple – we’d just go see ALL of Paris!
As mentioned, we’re staying in Lower Montmartre. For those of you who know Paris, you’ll know that Montmartre is synonymous with art and bohemia in Paris and also home to one of it’s most prominent icons – Sacre Coeur. You’ll also know that it’s high up and as I mentioned, we are staying in lower Montmartre.
I warned Mum that although it wasn’t far, it was a hike with a lot of steps… turns out that was an understatement. But at the bottom of each mammoth flight, I gave Mum the options of going around the winding side streets without steps and a steadier incline or just stopping altogether and doing it another day via taxi or metro/funicular but like a trooper, she pressed on. Although she may complain later, I want you all to know that my Mum is a strong and determined woman who embraces life at every turn. I only hope when I’m ’29’ years old like she is that I have as much gumption and sense of adventure! She is an inspiration.
I think Mum will agree that the effort was worthwhile as Montmartre revealed itself at the top of the final staircase. Just a few more steps and we were immersed in the hustle and bustle of the little artist enclave which admittedly nowadays is more a pastiche of it’s former glory. None the less, its charm is irrepressible. We strolled around, stopping for a crepe from my favourite creperie (it’s no better or worse than any other, its just a sentimental favourite).
We then made our way around to the front of Sacre Coeur which overlooks all of Paris from it’s great height. It was here that Mum got her first eye full of the Eiffel Tower and again I had that rare privilege of seeing again for the first time through someone else’s eyes with the added joy of that person being my Mum. The rest of the city unfolded but I was mostly enthralled with the awe written on my Mum’s face.
We went into Sacre Coeur to find a Mass in progress. We were still able to look around and Mum decided that she’d like to listen to the service which was eerily easy to follow without understanding a word. Although as an adult, I haven’t adopted the religious beliefs and practices of my upbringing, it is amazing how much of it becomes embedded in your permanent memory. Mum went to communion and I took the opportunity for some quite reflection – Lord knows, I need it! If s/he didn’t before, s/he does now!
We emerged back into the dwindling daylight and perched ourselves on the steps out the front to watch the sunset and the city lights twinkle on in the vast metropolis spread out below. No matter how many times I have seen this before, it is still a sight to behold.
We made our way back down the hill which was of course much easier! We stopped in at our local marche to pick up a bottle of wine and a selection of cheeses which constituted our evening meal. Bon appetit and bon nuit.
We arrived in Paris and caught a taxi through some part or another and arrived at our destination in Rue Letort. Nomi entered a code and a beautiful wrought iron gate opened from the street and then down a long narrow passage with high walls either side and then into a tiny little courtyard where we were met by Beryl. She showed us her apartment where we are going to live for another week. It consists of 3 rooms – kitchen/laundry, bedroom with 2 beds, books, flatscreen TV and a red desk from which you can look at the courtyard with a beautiful small garden and the other room of course is the bathroom. The whole area would be as big as our family room and kitchen but so chic.
After settling in, Nomi walked me up 4 million stairs to Sacre Coeur. We saw the Eiffel Tour in the distance and waited to see the lights come on in Paris. A beautiful site to see. Much nicer than in daylight as it seems very overcrowded and cluttered and doesn’t appear to have many trees.
It was easier coming home as it was all down hill. We stopped and bought a bottle of red and cheeses.
What made me smile today: Just being in Paris (something I thought I’d never see). Love to all.