Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ET 2.01 - Paris, France (Day 4)

Actual date of this event: 30 December

Today was our last full day to be in Paris, and we did not have too much more left that we wanted to see. We had planned accordingly from the beginning so we were not going to be running from one side of the city to the next trying to fit in our last sights. 
This is our sight-seeing map that I made before we went on the trip. We did most of what is marked, but a few things, like the two that are on the way outskirts, we did not get to. We picked up a few extra sights along the way that are not included on this map, also.

We had three things on the agenda for the day: Sacre Coeur, Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, and Red Light District. We slept in a few extra minutes because we knew we didn't have a jam packed day. We headed out of the apartment around 10:30am for the metro to the 18th district which would have been a 3.3 mile walk.

Sacré-Cœur - The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
Sacre Coeur sits atop a big hill called Montmartre. It is the best place to go to get a view of all of Paris. You can take amazing picture if the visibility is right. Getting into the church is free, and photography without a flash is allowed. The picture I posted a few weeks ago of Paris has Sacre Coeur in the background...
That is Sacre Coeur in the background.
Source of photo: http://www.3jokes.com/gallery/v/Wallpapers/France_Wallpapers/The+Sacred-Heart+Basilica+in+the+Distance_+Montmartre_+Paris_+France.jpg.html
Like almost everything we see/do, we had discovered some not great things about Sacre Coeur which made me very nervous before visiting. I had read online that at the bottom of the big hill that the church sits on is a crowd of scam artists. This is the gist of what I read:
A group of African guys stands around with string. Some of them are nicer than others. The nice ones call you out and ask to see your wrist. The not so nice ones will grab your wrist without asking first. Either way, they place string on your wrist and make a bracelet and then demand payment for it. To avoid the scam, keep your hands close by your side. If one approaches you, politely but assertively say "Non, merci." If you really want a bracelet, you can find one on the ground for free that was thrown there by someone who was unable to get away. Also, you can avoid more of these men by taking the funicular up the hill rather than taking the stairs.

Luke and I got off the metro and followed the signs for Montmartre. We could see that there was a hill on our left as we walked by some stairs but no sign of Sacre Coeur. As we turned one of the corners, we could see crowds of people and then we saw the Basilica. We took a look at the hill and stairs and decided that it would not be difficult for us to climb. It was like 200 steps... no biggie! As I was looking at the stairs... here we go... 
A group of them getting ready to pounce!
Guy: "Good morning, ma'am."
Me: ignoring
Guy: "Ma'am"
Me: ignoring
Guy: "Ma'am"
Me: ignoring
Guy: "Ma'am"
Guy: "Ma'am"
Me: "No. No."
Guy: "Ma'am"
Me: "No. No. No. No. No."
Guy: quiet
YES! Debbie 1 - Scammer 0. Take that bracelet man! And actually, that was the only bracelet man encounters I had. I was very surprised! At the very base, we saw loads of bracelet men standing around and holding their string. There are a few section of stairs, so you can stop and take pictures as you go up and each level had a few more men. When Luke and I decided to make our way up the stairs from level 1, we saw a poor Asian boy getting "attacked" by one of the guys. The poor boy (he was around 18ish) was telling them he already had one and was so frustrated. I felt really bad for him. I tried to keep my eyes on the prize (the top of the stairs) with my hands in my pockets and just zoomed straight up. Literally. When we got to the top, Luke asked why I went so fast.
It was a beautiful day!!! Colder than the other days, but lots of sun!

tons of people!

At the top, I didn't see any bracelet guys. But along the stairs and at the top, there are various vendors selling souvenirs and other sorts of random crap. But they don't bother you which was nice. We went into the church and since it was Sunday at 11:00, mass was in session. I was very surprised they still let visitors in. We were shuffled around the perimeter of the inside and of course we had to be silent. Luke and I stopped every once in a while to listen because it was very interesting to hear mass in French. If we had not slept in, yes, dad and Julie, we may have gone to mass.
(no pictures from inside because of mass)

view from the top of the stairs
After we left the church, we walked around the backside to take some pictures. There are also a few areas around the left side of the church with shops and street vendors selling artwork and drawing pictures.

Luke and I found some stairs that took us back down to the base of the hill. Even though these stairs would help visitors avoid the bracelet guys, you don't get the same views as the stairs in the front, so I am glad we went the hard way. We decided that since we weren't far from it, we would walk to see the famous Moulin Rouge.
secret stairs away from the bracelet men
Red Light District - I had been told before going to Paris that the Red Light District was located in the 18th arrondissement. We walked along Boulevard de Clichy until we got to Moulin Rouge. Along this road, you will see various sex shops, cabarets, and adult cinemas. 

And just like everything else, you can tell when you are coming up on something big when a crowd of people is huddled taking pictures - Moulin Rouge. We went in, but you can only go so far because you have to have tickets, obviously. Luke said he looked into ticket before the trip and it was approx $120 a pop.
Right: Moulin Rouge Perfume from 1914 and 1926    

Luke and I hopped on the metro which was right across from Moulin Rouge. We had one more main attraction left in Paris before we were fairly satisfied with our visit - again, so much to do in Paris, that 4 days still isn't enough time. We arrived at Père Lachaise around 1pm.

One of the types of Metro signs. Another sign is a big M.    

Père Lachaise Cemetery - The cemetery is the largest in the city of Paris, and is considered to be the most visited cemetery in the world. So one thing to understand about Luke and I, when we travel, we go to a lot of churches and a lot of cemeteries. I mean A LOT. And we end up getting lost in them mainly because you can walk around and look at tombstones and forget what time it is. Before walking through the gate, we saw a few vendors selling maps of the cemetery. It was €2.50 for a map - hah! We were not going to spend money on a map! I mean, Luke is a walking map - seriously. Most of the time. Anyway, Luke and I begin walking around and looking for a few specific names/people:
1.) find a Buisson! We are in France, there has to be a Buisson!
2.) find another family name of Luke's (we saw tons of André's)
3.) find Jim Morrison
4.) find one of those other famous people that this cemetery is supposed to include

We got as close as we could to Buisson with DuBuisson - which just so happens to be one of Luke's favorite Belgian beers. More on that in another blog...

And then we were coming across nothing. We just walked and walked and walked. And we were beginning to see why people bought maps. I didn't know where we were located in the 110 acres of land and I sure had no idea how we would find the rest of these names we are looking for! We decided to be creepers and follow a couple who had a map. We followed them for a good 30 minutes, but I don't think they knew where they were going either. We ended up on the other side of the cemetery from where we entered where there happened to be a sign displaying a map of the cemetery. See, we didn't need to buy a map! So, I took a picture of the map so we would know exactly where to go. Voila!

map displayed at entrances - we somehow missed this when we first entered.   

Oscar Wilde - I will be honest, Luke and I did not know who he was but we knew of his name. I said, "Its some guy that we were forced to read his stuff when I was in high school. I think." Well, Oscar Wilde was a writer, so I at least had that correct. The guy is Irish, and was famous in London and in France, so I'm going to say that because I am American, that is why I don't know much about him. Sounds good to me. Anyway, his tomb had a protective casing and a fence around it because there have been acts of vandalism in the past.

Jim Morrison - This will get some of you hippies, or folks like my dad, excited!

For you young folks out there, Jim Morrison was the lead singer of The Doors. Don't know The Doors? Um, he is like how Justin Timberlake was in 'N Sync. Don't know 'N Sync? Well, then I can't help you. Anyway, he is American and was living in Paris at the time of his death. He died at age 27 from... take a guess... drug overdose. But if you read up, there are a few theories of how he actually died. Anyway, his grave was by no means glamorous. It was a plain and simple stone with flowers from fans. It was also fenced in because people had vandalized other tombstones around it with song lyrics and phrases to commemorate his life.

Luke and I figured we had spent enough time in the cemetery, so we hopped on the metro one more time and got off at the Opera. We had walked by the Opera our first day, but were unable to enjoy the beauty of it. I have never been one to listen to classical music, but it was pretty amazing to see the names of famous composers on the outside of it - Beethoven, Mozart, and ... I dont know anymore composers.

For the rest of the day, Luke and I walked and enjoyed the streets of Paris. With it being our last afternoon/evening, we just enjoyed being there. We had a great time in Paris, we definitely plan to go back for another visit. Now that we have gotten all of the touristy things out of the way, we can come back to enjoy the city in another way. I hope that you get to visit Paris one day! And when you do, I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did!

Other Posts from Paris: Day 1Eiffel TowerDay 2CatacombesVersailles, Day 4Wrap-Up

Moulin Rouge opened in 1889. It seats 850 people and is the birthplace of the can-can dance (which yours truly has danced a few times in her life).


1 comment:

  1. It looks like you had a great time and really balanced out your sightseeing with your leisurely strolling around. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to hear more abut Belgium!


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