Montmartre – the word rolled gently off my tongue and was lost in the gentle spring breeze. After the boulevards of Paris, Montmartre had a more homely feel. There was no way of escaping the crowds that thronged there on this beautiful March morning. But I was able to lose myself and feel alone in a crowd of thousands. All I needed was a place that exuded its own unique vibe. And Montmartre did just that. There was no doubt to me that Montmartre danced to the beat of its own drum.
It’s an uphill climb from the Metro to the top of Montmartre, with the church of Sacre Coeur, like a huge iced wedding cake, gazing benignly at the groups of visitors. From beneath its pristine domes there is a panoramic view of Paris.
Glancing upwards, grimacing gargoyles seem to be mocking the humans jostling underneath their stony gaze.
Leaving their menacing glares behind me I quickly headed towards the narrow cobblestoned streets. The atmosphere was cheerful, although the persistent badgering by street artists who want to paint a quick portrait or caricature does mar the beauty of the place somewhat.
There is a unique charm about Montmartre, perhaps some might say that it is a tad contrived, but it is charming, nonetheless. And from the art on sale at Place du Tetre, to the eclectic offerings of the souvenir shops, there is no doubt that this particular charm is totally French. Montmartre has lost none of the bohemian character that attracted so many penniless artists and writers at the turn of the last century.
There was something utterly whimsical about it. But it was a type of whimsy that I could not quite put my finger on. Perhaps it was a whimsy derived from all those bohemian souls that used to roam its streets (and who knows, perhaps they still do). Or more likely it’s a whimsy derived from the mouth-watering crepes smothered in Nutella that I was eating. Whatever the case, Montmartre quickly became my favourite spot in Paris.