Montmartre & Sacré-Cœur

img_6331

The first time I’d seen the Sacré-Cœur, it was from a distance. I was on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. Back then, I’d had limited time in Paris and couldn’t visit the famous basilica. I told myself that I would come back to explore Montmartre one day!

So when I was planning the itinerary for my return trip, I allocated one full day to Montmartre. It was such a leisurely day: walking around the winding cobblestone streets, popping in and out of souvenir shops, eating only dessert foods, and taking in the sights and sounds of the area.

Le Clos Montmartre

Opened in 1933, this is the oldest vineyard in Paris!

Rue de l’Abreuvoir:

img_6295

Place Dalida

One of France’s most beloved singers, Dalida, lived in Montmartre for 25 years before her death on May 3, 1987. I didn’t know it at the time, but I took these pictures of her statue exactly 31 years later on May 3, 2018. What a strange coincidence!

Place du Tertre

1A1FC002-6D84-4E0E-AC45-DE88D4337D1C

At the Place du Tertre, the silhouette artist told me to sit on the stool and to look “over there” – his hand gesturing to the Sacré-Cœur dome.

EADB1609-2418-4686-87D7-331A004912C6It was meditative as I held my pose. I remember clearing my mind and focusing on my breathing.

Before I knew it, the talented artist had completed the silhouette of my new hat and me!

C3097A8C-1673-48BD-92C7-CBD2F6D955D1

Sounds of Montmartre

Here are two short video clips I filmed:

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Finally, I got to see the white-domed beauty that is the basilica up close! Inside, it was dim, with only soft flickers of votive candlelight. There were two gift shops, but they were located off to the side and far away from the nave so they wouldn’t distract people praying in the pews. There were “no-photography” signs, but apparently many of us translated them to mean, “No DSLRs, but phones are OK.” So, here is my one photo of the inside. I quickly snapped it while I was sitting in the back: “I pray for my family, friends, and I am grateful for this trip and everything.”

When construction began in the late 19th century, this basilica broke tradition in a way. While other basilicas being built at the time were dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre-Dame) in the cities of Lyon, Lourdes, and Marseille, this basilica in Montmartre was dedicated to the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur).

Originally, I bought a hat on the way over here due to a bad hair day. Little did I know the Hemingway fedora would come in so handy. It was hot on the steps of Sacré-Cœur, but it was not too bad considering the breathtaking view! And this time, I was at Sacré-Cœur looking at the Eiffel Tower from a distance!

As I snacked on a clementine and nectarine that I picked up earlier from a grocer on Rue Lamarck, I could see other landmarks, like the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Montparnasse Tower, dotting the horizon.

Le Funiculaire de Montmartre

img_6327

Since I had a Navigo Découverte pass, I knew I could ride the funicular unlimited times! So I rode the funicular up, down, and back up again.

When I got to the top, I decided to walk down. Along the way, I counted 214 steps, give or take!

Then, I rode the funicular back up again…

All that funicular-riding, step-counting, and selfie-taking drained my and my phone’s energy! As I wandered along, I discovered a Supermarché G20. It was like an oasis in the desert…

My related posts:

For more information:

Travel Tips

I don’t travel as often as I’d like, but when the opportunity arises, I like to do my homework first! Before I visit a place, I consult travel blogs, listen to family and friends’ vacation stories, and find inspiration from the dozens of colorful and FOMO-inducing postcards they send me.

Over the years, I have also received some fantastic travel advice, including:

  • Always keep your wits about you
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Do talk to strangers

Reflecting on my recent trip to France, I’d say things went smoothly overall. Of course, there are some things I would have done differently or wish I had known beforehand.  Live and learn, right?

So, here are a few of my suggestions to save time, money, and energy, based on lessons learned:

9 general travel tips

img_7772

  • Print out your boarding pass. Even though you may have your boarding pass with a QR code on your phone, stop by a kiosk and print out your boarding pass – just in case the boarding pass on your phone doesn’t work. It defeats the purpose of going paperless, I know, but taking 5 minutes to print it out could save you 15 minutes at the gate. Besides, the printed pass makes a nice bookmark or souvenir to stick in your scrapbook

img_7773-1

  • When you arrive at your destination, your phone will automatically switch to the local phone provider. To be sure you’re on the network, turn your phone off, then turn it back on after about 15 minutes. (Check your cell phone provider’s roaming and data plans before your trip.)
  • Read the signs. Forgive me for stating the obvious. But I let my eagerness get the best of me when I hopped on an express (non-stop) train by mistake and missed my stop. (I wrote about it here.)

  • Withdraw cash in the local currency from an ATM that is either attached to a physical bank or at least has a major-bank name on it. (Avoid the ones that look generic.) Fortunately, major airports in large cities have major-bank ATMs. You will get the best exchange rate from these ATMs and you’ll avoid extra fees. (Check your bank’s fee schedule before your trip.)
  • Bring a hat. Not only does it provide shade, it saves you precious styling-time and covers up a bad-hair day, if needed. Hats always look good in pictures
img_7802

These clementines from Spain were individually wrapped – so cute!

  • Pick up 1-2 pieces of fresh fruit from a local grocer before sightseeing. When you’re waiting in a long line, taking a break on a bench, or people-watching, you’ll have a light and nutritious snack to quell the hunger pangs
  • Bring a point-and-shoot or disposable camera. You can’t rely on your phone to be functional at all times, which brings me to my next tip –
  • Bring a portable, fully-charged power bank
img_7774-2

I’m reminded of my trip each time I use these items (which is every day!)

  • Get souvenirs from the local drugstore. Toiletries are economical, don’t take up much space in your suitcase, and best of all, they won’t collect dust

9 Paris travel tips

img_7768

The card is reloadable for 10 years

  • Get a Navigo Découverte weekly travel pass for unlimited rides on most of the transport networks (More info here)
  • Take a city bus during weekday commute hours to experience life as a local. Plus you’ll get to see everyday things that tour buses don’t show
  • Get your postcards from Montmartre souvenir shops. Some vendors sell 12 postcards for 2€
  • If you can wait, also pick up a travel adapter at the Montmartre souvenir shops. Most of them sell adapters for a mere 3€

img_6359

  • At the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, forgo the sketch or painted portrait by an artist and get a silhouette done instead. It only takes 2 minutes, costs 10€, and it’s less cumbersome
  • Skip the coffee shop, go to a Supermarché G20 instead. You can charge your phone and other electronics at a window counter seat. You can also get an espresso for only 1€. (I wrote about it here.)
  • Start at the Louvre in the morning, then walk east to Notre Dame. (Not the other way around like I did!) Because there is just so much to take in at the Louvre, it’s better to start there when you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookshop (skip the Café), but buy from one of the many bouquinistes along the Seine. Get books instead of magnets, postcards, or padlocks. (I wrote about them here.)
  • Padlocks are no longer allowed on the Pont des Arts bridge (below) so consider another way to celebrate your everlasting love. Maybe a musician can serenade you! (Watch my video clips here.)

no love locks

Last, but not least…

I want to share the following travel tip, which reminded me to be present and enjoy the fleeting moments. I coined it the ACRO-nym:

be Alert and Cautious, yet Relaxed and Open!

Got a favorite travel tip? Share it in the comment box below!

Happy and safe travels! 🚘🚉🛫🛳🚲🛶