The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Postcards from Paris (3) - Montmartre

Montmartre, the hill of the martyr, is the highest point in Paris. Huddled around the huge white basilica of Sacre Couer, Montmartre is accessible either after a very steep climb through a terraced garden or else by making use of a funicular which takes you easily to the steps of Sacre Couer. The neo-Romanesque-Byzantine basilica was built between 1875 and 1914 in honour of the 58 000 dead of the Franco-Prussian war. The square bell tower houses one of the world's heaviest bells: La Savoyarde, which weighs 19 tonnes.

Sacre Couer

Montmartre was all that I had imagined it would be and so much more: steep hills and narrow, cobbled streets...the huge white domes of Sacre Couer...Place du Tetre and the street artists...small souvenir shops...piano bars...creperies...old buildings with picturesque facades...

Steep hills and cobbled streets

A piano bar

At the turn of the 20th century many artists had their studios or worked around the community of Montmartre. These included Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso. Writers and musicians were also attracted to the area since it was situated outside the city limits and was thus exempt from Paris taxes.
All this resulted in Montmartre becoming the centre of what has become known as the Bohemian lifestyle. Nowadays the area is more of a tourist attraction. Street artists abound and you can sit and have your portrait or caricature done in Place du Tetre, although you will find other artists roaming around all of the narrow streets close to Sacre Couer. Since development is limited, the character of Montmartre has been preserved and although there are no longer any Bohemians living there, the old charm of the place lives on.

Place du Tetre

A small train on wheels is available to take you from the heights of Montmartre to the low-lying area of Pigalle.

The Montmartre train

Pigalle itself is home to the famous (or infamous) Moulin Rouge, the Folies Pigalle and a host of other cabarets.

The Moulin Rouge

I will end this post with a curious anecdote that I came across today. It is said that when, in 1802, the Treaty of Amiens was being signed, Napoleon insisted that Malta (where I live) should at once be ceded by Britain to the King of the Two Sicilies or to another third power, since he would rather see the British in Montmartre than in Malta. I thought that was rather interesting but I am not sure how the British would have felt to be living so close to their arch-rival!


  1. Another beautiful post, Loree! Love the photos as well as the information you've written here!

  2. Thanks for the tour and the memories!! Great pics

  3. What a great post Loree. I really enjoyed lookiing at all the beautiful pictures.

  4. Have just come across your blog, and quiet enjoy your writing (and share your liking for The Mists of Avalon). Am also based in Malta.

  5. Nice pictures have a great eye. It seemed like I was there too after reading your post. Oh yeah, I was. :) Great info and Montmartre is definately a place to return to.


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