The next day we were back in Paris, it was overcast but not actually raining so we headed to Monmarte to see Sacré-Cœur, and the view from the top of the steps.
If you take the Metro in your ticket will allow you to also take the funicular (hillside tram). The path from the Metro stop to the funicular is through a narrow street packed full of people. There are fabric shops (nothing I spied looked of interest, sadly) and clothing (maybe resale?) shops that sell goods by weight. It was Saturday and chaotic, so hold onto your bags and zip your pockets.
A little warning for you, at the base of the steps leading up to Sacré-Cœur and near the funicular you’re likely to run into what were introduced to me as the String Men. They are an aggressive lot of hustlers who approach you and tie a string around your wrist if you’re not looking, then ask you for money since they’ve given you something. We encountered some and, honestly, they were creepy, fast and freaked me out a bit. So, look out for them, keep your hands in your pockets or crossed in front of you, and you might not have to deal with them. This part of Monmarte, where all the tourists are, is reportedly the worst of it, the rest is a fairly normal neighborhood.
At the top of the funicular sat this lady playing an accordion. Check out the shoes. According to the flyer on her van she also does burlesque.
You can do a look inside the church, and it’s amazing inside, though in terms of designs I liked the interior of Notre Dame more. You have to stay very quiet, pictures of any sort are forbidden, and all men have to take off hats. We sat and watched the guard who is in charge of requesting the removal of hats for a while.
It was Saturday so there were lots of people sitting on the steps looking at the view.
This poor busker was somewhat upstaged by not one, but two bridal parties there to get pictures.
All around Paris are these metal stands with translucent plastic bags where you can dump your trash. They’re very convenient, not creepy, and stay far more clean seeming than the heavy city trash cans I’m used to.
On the way back down to the Metro I got a small bag of roasted chestnuts. I love chestnuts.
The colorful striped train seat caught my eye.
That night we took one of those boat tours of the Seine on the Bateaus-Mouches. It was raining again, pelting actually, so we sat inside below (as opposed to the outdoors seating on the top). We passed a lot of beautiful buildings but the out of focus shot of the Eiffel Tower doing it’s sparkly light show best illustrates the ride. Should you find yourself in the same situation I recommend sitting on the left side of the boat, it’s actually easier to look up and see the various monuments and palaces across the river on the far side than from the right side of the inside of the boat. They have a recorded tour playing but it points out things to the port and starboard sides, and besides a few facts doesn’t add a huge amount of information.
We were soaking wet and half an hour late for dinner, but the restaurant was gracious about it, thank goodness. And so some of the best roasted chicken in my life was had at La Rotisserie d’En Face.
Stuff learned the hard way:
Paris boat tours: These are fun, but are best enjoyed when it’s not blowing and pelting rain. If you should need to huddle inside, sit on the left side of the boat, it’ll be easier to see the opposite bank from there. And when the boat trip says 45 minutes? It will take over an hour to get back and you’ll be late for dinner.
String Men: These are aggressive hustlers who seem to hand out near the stairs to Sacré-Cœur and try to tie bracelets on the wrists of inattentive people. If you spot some just make sure you keep your hands to yourself so you don’t have them a chance. If they do get an opening, refuse to pay them.
Funicular: You can use your Metro pass or ticket (as a transfer) to ride the funicular up the hill to Sacré-Cœur.
Fabric stores: Sarah gave tips on where to find the fabric shops in the comments below: “As for the fabric shops, the good ones are found on the opposite approach to the basilica. From the metro (past the funicular), down the street that runs in front of the basilica, and to the right. There’s an intersection with loads of gorgeous shops that charge way more than you would ever want to pay (euros to dollars makes everything very spendy) for beautiful fabrics. I’m sorry you missed them!” Thanks Sarah!
Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers; Day Five pastries and scoldings; Day Five the bit about the mangosteens; Day Six trains and vegetables; Day Seven, Ye Olde-est Pub in England and a giant space suit; Day Eight rain gods and cake for elevenses
Next up: Day Ten McMacarons and not going to Versailles