My plan for today was to take my friend up to the highest point in Paris. If you don’t count the Eiffel Tower, the highest point in Paris is Montmartre.
Still not feeling well, with the dreaded cold and fiddling around with my blog, trying to get it to perform, despite my attempts, meant we had a late start.
Just as we headed out, the menacing grey clouds produced a heavy, tropical like downpour and we barely made it around the corner before deciding to abandon plans and scurry back to the shelter of the apartment.
Plan B was agreed upon, we popped on our coats and headed out once again, “take two” as they say in the movies. We opened the door to clearing skies and no rain. Back to plan A. Montmartre it was.
I had been looking forward to this day, I wanted to stay up on the butte for sunset so I could capture some delayed exposure photos with the aid of my new tripod.
We surfaced at the Hector Guimard designed metro station entrance, initially constructed for the square in front of Hotel de Ville – the town hall on Rue de Rivoli, but was later moved to Abbesses to make way for an underground carpark and apparently; it is only one of two originals surviving.
Not far from the station is Le Mur des Je t’aime, The Wall of I Love You. The wall displays around 311 versions, in 250 different languages, of the phrase; I love you. Much to our disappointment, the park – Square Jehan Rictus Place des Abbesses was closed but with the aid of a zoom lens, I managed to get some shots.
We ducked into the red brick church Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre only to discover a funeral was about to take place and quickly left.
Just as we worked our way up the hill of Montmartre, the rain returned. This was a good excuse to sample a restaurant I had been curious to try; Chez de Mere Catherine.
Chez de Mere Catherine founded in 1793, boasts to be the oldest restaurant in Montmartre. We were pleasantly surprised to discover, despite it’s location, in Place du Tertre, the heart of Montmartre; such a friendly waiter. As a general rule of thumb, cafes located near monuments and landmarks, often have tired cranky waiters, who have encountered too many tourists, with varying nationalities, cultures, language and quirks, where each tourist expects the waiter should speak their given language, which in turn, over time, turns the waiters into Basil Faulty like characters.
Once my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit room, I could see red and white checked tablecloths, ceilings so low, the waiters had to duck their heads as they passed under the exposed timber beams. We joked that they could probably claim for RSI, for constantly having to walk around with their heads bowed.
Pulling the table out from the red banquette seating, we were offered a table.
Sheltered from the rain outside, we sipped on Rosé, our lunchtime wine of choice, admiring our cosy surroundings, happy with the attention we had received so far, however not ignoring our neighbouring diner sending his meal back, not once, but three times. It didn’t take long to discover why.
The greasy chips, sat next to my piece of chicken. The only difference between the chicken and my boot soles was that my boots contained more moisture. My friends vegetable quiche was burnt, black on the bottom and utterly tasteless. When I pointed this out to the waiter, ‘c’est normale’ he replied. Yes, we laughed it probably is their ‘normal’. The friendly waiter appeared to vanish like a puff of smoke, maybe with the burnt quiche base and we wondered if we had imagined him.
That will teach me to follow my golden rule; never to eat in areas heaving with tourists!
By the time we had attempted to eat our meal, the rain had eased and we were able to once again, enjoy the streets of Montmartre.
We did stay for sunset. My new tripod staked out my secret spot to catch a few shots of the Eiffel Tower as the sun went down and the city of lights put on her night time glow, only to discover I had forgotten how to put the settings on long exposure. Oh well, did I really need an excuse to go back up to Montmartre? Not really, but at least now, I have one, just for good measure.
After a quick drink at a favourite bar in Pigalle, we headed back to the familiar surroundings of the Marais, where, only a few doors down from my apartment, we had the most delicious meal with good service and the night-time atmosphere of the 4th arrondissement.