Saturday, July 5: Up and down (mostly up) in Montmartre

Today was our long-awaited (in the sense that we signed up for them in May) walking tours in Paris with professional tour guides. The students had 3 choices: le Marais, Montmartre, or Montparnasse (“I forgot which one I signed up for. . . I think it starts with an M?”). Originally I was supposed to go to Montparnasse, which I’d chosen because I’ve never visited there. But no faculty were signed up for Montmartre so I went along with that group instead. Our guide Orane was one of the guides on the visit to the Louvre last year. She recognized me even though we’d only seen each other once or twice before. I made a concerted effort to speak French–something I’m working on more diligently this year–and maintained what I’m pretty sure was a pleasant and intelligent level of small talk during the metro ride from Porte d’Orléans to Blanche. For future reference, when you get out at Blanche you will be directly in front of the Moulin Rouge, and that’s pretty cool. In fact it’s one of my overall favorite things about Paris: the prospect of coming up out of a metro station and finding yourself right next to something beautiful (Aubers station–turn around and you see the Opéra Garnier), famous (Blanche–Moulin Rouge), or important (St. Michel-Notre Dame–right across the street from Notre Dame cathedral).

Orane gave us a great, well-planned tour of Montmartre. The weather was not ideal–it drizzled intermittently–but the heavy rain held off till the tour was over and I was ensconced inside a crêperie. Because Montmartre is one huge hill, touring it is always a strenuous walk. However, there are lots of good places to stop and take a look around: in addition to the Moulin Rouge we saw the Montmartre vineyard, the Lapin Agile (originally the “Lapin à Gilles” because someone named Gilles painted the rabbit on the building–I love a good French pun), the Moulin à la Galette (one of only 2 remaining windmills in Montmartre, of which there used to be 30), and the café from Amelie. I used to turn my nose up at guided tours but I always end up learning something and seeing things I wouldn’t have sought out on my own. So no more guided tour snobbery for me; I’ve been converted.

Montmartre pictures and the rest of my day after the jump.

Moulin Rouge. Why is the exposure so weird? Are the rhinestones they use just that shiny?

Amelie’s café. I peeped inside and it looks just like in the movie.

Moulin de la Galette

Looking down a street in Montmartre.

This sculpture illustrates a famous French story, “Le Passe-Muraille” (The Man Who Walked Through Walls)

In a small park we found St. Denis again. The legend goes that after he was beheaded by the Romans he walked to this fountain to wash his head, then walked another 3-4 miles until he found another Christian. THEN he died. 

The Lapin Agile

Looking down from the Butte Montmartre

Terrible (poorly composed, toothy, recursive) selfie in small crêperie
After the tour and my crêperie lunch, I did a bit of shopping on Avenue du Général Leclerc. It’s not a big shopping street like Rue de Rivoli but it has several stores that I like. This month is les soldes so things are pretty inexpensive, and I came over a little light on clothes so I’m on the hunt. Today I only bought one t-shirt–mildly disappointing but it is a cute t-shirt–and this reusable shopping bag:

A sac is a bag, of course, so it says “I love having my shopping in a bag.”  But I suspect “en sac” is also short for “en sacré” or something similar, so it’s something like saying “I f***ing love shopping.” Can anyone confirm whether I’m on the right track with this idea? Plus it is printed with little Eiffel towers and French flags and the word “Paris” and it was 1,50€. I should go back and get several to give as souvenirs.
Finally this afternoon I did a load of laundry; it’s been warm this week, making it impossible to re-wear clothes without washing. Then a solo dinner while puzzling over an article in L’Express about a one-year intensive prépa course for disadvantaged girls. I understand the overall point but I realized I don’t know about le prépa. Is it before or after le baccalaureat? Does everybody do it? Now I have a research project to work on tomorrow in between grading and scouting out my field trip for Tuesday.

2 thoughts on “Saturday, July 5: Up and down (mostly up) in Montmartre

  1. No sacré here. Only something grammatically wrong I guess. I understand what it means thought. It stands for "j'adore faire les courses avec un sac réutilisable".

    Prepa is after the bac. Two years of intense studying to seat several competitions in order to maybe be accepted in Grandes Ecoles.

  2. Ah, ok. Actually I think I am glad that I don't have a juron on my shopping bag!

    I can't imagine a system that requires 2 additional years of study in order to qualify for admission to particular universities. Our system puts a lot of pressure on schools to make every student "college-ready" when they graduate from high school. Of course, a lot of them don't make it and the huge gaps in opportunity that this article was talking about exist for us too. Well-off students get better high school educations as well as a lot of supplemental opportunities (tutoring, test preparation, etc.).

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