I ended my blog post for day 2 just before we went out for dinner, so I will briefly summarise last night before I crack on with the events of today; Jacob and I weren’t that hungry, so decided to hit up somewhere with smaller items on the menu, and after a brief search down various streets we discovered “Chez Bouboule“. This was an unusual but extremely cool spot acting as a bistro, bar, and pétanque venue, the latter being a form of boules that is mainly played in the Provence. Far from drawing a crowd of old men in white sweaters, Bouboule is full of Parisians in their twenties enjoying the great music, fun atmosphere and extensive cocktail menu; we ordered the EUR.25 Planche Grillée from the tapas menu, which arrived quite promptly and was absolutely delicious. Served on a rustic board in little metal baskets, we enjoyed breaded chicken goujons (tenders de poulet), crispy onion rings (oignon rings), grilled chorizo, mozzarella balls (cromesquis de mozzarella), fries, and brochettes de boeuf, which are skewers of minced beef with bacon and cheese. Everything was extremely tasty, and they certainly don’t skimp out on the portion size.
As we were eating, a strange American man walked up to us and we had a little chat with him; he asked for my name, and when I explained it was of Latvian descent, he snorted and said: “I suppose we’re all breeding with the peasants now”. It was unusual, but entertaining to say the least. After this encounter, Jacob’s aunt rang to say she was in the area, so we made plans to meet them at a place of our choice – we paid the bill at Bouboule and went to find somewhere suitable. Ten minutes later, we stumbled upon a stylish little bar and restaurant called “Marcel et Clementine“, where we concluded the evening over a glass of reasonably priced white wine and good company.
Today was much more relaxed; we woke up late, got ready to leave the room, and slowly sauntered up to the Sacré Coure, which is directly above our hotel (for those that don’t fancy the walk, there’s a vernacular service). There are some really cool shops on the way up the hill, but the further you go, the more touristy it gets, so do your shopping before the tacky heights! We stopped at the following:
Sauver le Monde des Homme – a modern and stylish menswear store with a simple layout, selling fashionable shirts, trousers and jackets in the first part, then a smaller room downstairs selling beautiful trainers, bespoke toiletries, and accessories. I purchased a wonderful little grooming set, with clippers, scissors etc, for EUR.20 – it comes in a handy case, and is small enough to go in my wash bag. Everything here was reasonably priced and looked to be of outstanding quality.
Lekker – another shop along the same lines, yet with an extensive women’s section, art, and homewares… and high prices. If you haven’t got a budget but want some new threads, I’d recommend it. It’s a really cool little shop.
La Boulangerie – a French design shop just at the bottom of a stairway, with interesting handmade jewellery, art, and clothes for a range of styles and prices. I contemplated purchasing some presents here, but decided to hold out until we were further into our travels. It’s cute and some of the items are amazingly cheap!
Walking up the graffiti ridden stairs that are halfway to the Sacré coure, we decided to find some brunch; there are LOADS of places here, but most seemed to be shitty, expensive, and built for the taste of tourism. We opted out of sitting down for a proper meal, choosing to go to “La Galette des Moulins”, a tiny little shop with ready made baguettes, fresh bread, and other tasty snacks. We got two slices of pizza, a french stick, and a croque monsieur for EUR. 12.50, and ate it near the Basilica itself. It really is a sight to behold; Romano-Byzantine features portray a nationalistic theme, with two equestrian statues of Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX sitting below a giant figure of Jesus, all looking out on the view ahead. The domes are not extravagantly decorated, but rely on their presence alone to impress, and I for one believe they do that perfectly. We walked inside and I quickly realised it’s one of the best religious buildings I’ve ever seen; Jesus, with his hands outstretched, towers over the rows of praying visitors from the confines of a mosaic, which is one of the largest in the world. We walked quietly around the sides, as the pews are reserved for those wanting to pray, and got a EUR. 2 commemorative coin from one of the presses in the corner. Although this sounds a bit tacky, they’re engraved with the Basilica and actually look really nice; the stained glass windows are incredibly impressive, yet there are no photos allowed inside so I won’t be able to show you here. There’s also a miniature figure of the entire building, encased in glass, which shows how huge the Sacré Coure really is – we pondered around for a bit, then realised we could get up the dome!
For EUR. 6 each, we were allowed to climb the 300 tiny steps, built, like the rest of the building, from travertine stone, to the dome towering above. If you suffer from claustrophobia or severe vertigo, this is really, really not for you – the staircase is tiny, and spirals tightly in such a way that a feeling of dizziness takes over in waves as you follow the signs up. It is, however, entirely worth it; the view encompasses everything, from the Eiffel tower to sky scrapers, to a factory at the horizon churning smoke into the sky. It’s a 360 degree perspective, 86 metres high, over one of the most beautiful cities around, and we sat up there for a good while.
Eventually, we began to descend through the seemingly infinite loop of stairs, finding it quite a relief to find ourselves on stable ground at the end of it all, and decided to head back to the area with decent shops, as we hadn’t perused any in the previous days. I went into the Kiehl’s store, where I get my favourite face wash from, and we also popped into Faguo, which stocks amazingly cool sweaters, crisp white shirts, and simple little tees. All shirts were EUR. 75, all t-shirts were EUR. 30, and the sweaters were somewhere in between. We didn’t buy anything, but admired the stylishness and quality of their products. As we thought about heading back to the hotel, we walked past an incredible gallery called “Galerie W Landau Blast“. I can not recommend this place enough; its walls are lined with artwork ranging from anti-establishment to modern landscapes, and it’s entirely free to browse. They ask for no photos to be taken, so we chose to respect that.
We then accidentally stumbled into the Cimetière de Montmartre, which was one of my favourite adventures so far. Hiding below a bridge, the cemetery runs in every direction on giant avenues of graves and family crypts. This was built after burying bodies was banned in central Paris, some 300 years ago, and certainly celebrates with more grandeur than us British and our lowly headstones. It’s an intriguing combination of rich and poor, with giant stone tombs, heavily adorned with carvings and statues, lying next to the simple slabs of paupers past. It was a strange place to end our days in Paris, and I hope it doesn’t hold any omens for what’s ahead!
We’re off to grab some dinner, now, and pack before our early rise to get the train to Amsterdam tomorrow!
PHOTOS OF TODAY – HERE
PREVIOUS BLOG POST – HERE