Montmartre (pronounce the last ‘r’ but not the last ‘e’ … what?)

I’ve got to say after 5 years of middle to high school French I suck; I mean it’s pathetic. All right, maybe it has been 8 years or more since my last French class, but still. I have no idea how to pronounce Montmartre; I’ve been told to pronounce the last ‘r’ but not the last ‘e’. In theory that sounds easy, but I’ve no clue what that means in practice (try it smart ass … with a French ‘r’). I feel like if I ever do, then I’ll be able to say anything in French.

After a good night’s sleep on Friday, we set out to go on my first round of Parisian sightseeing. I spotted Sacre Coeur from Zarita’s window and we decided it was a good a spot to start with. It also had the upside of being in Montmartre, a quintessentially French neighborhood on the north side of the city. Sacre Coeur sits atop one of the only hills I’ve seen in this city and whose pinnacle provides as good a view of the city as the Eiffel Tower.

I think Sacre Coeur means Sacred Heart, as in the Sacred Heart of Christ or some shit. I’m not entirely sure what the place is all about, but I think I can safely say it’s a Cathedral. Its got all the Cathedral-like elements one would expect to find. There were lots of pews inside, high ceilings, pictures and statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary, confessionals, and people praying. I wish I could have taken some pictures, but a big sign outside said NON!

(A word of advice: If a total stranger, of seemingly North African decent, requests that you slip your finger through his loop of yellow, red and black string, REFUSE. He will follow you, he will nag you, he will beg you, he will flatter you, mais ... NON MONSIEUR!!! Be warned, if you oblige, you will be forced to watch him produce a miserable faux African 'peace' bracelet and ask for 7 Euro for it. Don't give him more than 1 ... if you find yourself obliging).

Me in front of Sacre Cour, near the middle of the hill we climbed to get up there.

The stairs at the base of Sacre Cour were full of stinky people listening to some north African dude play reggaeish music … some Bob Marley mixed with french.

The front doors to the Sacre Cour were amazing huge copper doors adorned with lions.

After touring Sacre Coeur for a while, we set out westward back down the hill through the side streets of Montmartre. The streets were narrow with amazing little 4 flat apartment buildings along the sides adorned with wrought iron balconies and private residences behind recessed driveways and decent sized front lawns. Cafes, brasseries, small shops and specialty food markets lined the streets everywhere. My favorite stop of the night was at a Fromagerie on Rue Lepic It was a small shop with one huge glass refrigerated case full of hunks of white, yellow, green and sometimes brown blobs of dairy goodness. Each was carefully labeled with information I couldn’t for the life of me decipher. The only thing I could recognize was Chevre (goat cheese). So I just pointed and said “Je voudrais ca” until I had 3 chunks of soft smelly goodness in my bag. I know none of them was goat, and at least one was a brie, but besides that … something sheep I think?

Then we got a little hungry and Zaritsa just happened to know of a little café by the name of “Les Deux Moulins”, made famous by the film Amelie. That’s right, it’s where Amelie worked as a waitress. Well Zaritchka, being a huge fan of that movie, myself as well, couldn’t pass by the opportunity to drop in and have a glass of wine and a crème brule. Finally we wrapped up our little Monmartre adventure with a stroll past Moulin Rouge in what I guess would be called the “Red Light District”. It wasn’t much more than Times Square was before some presidential wannabe converted it to an NYC Disneyland. Although, far more boobs than one would ever see on an American street … outside of New Orleans.

Good bye Sacre Coeur … a view from a little side street.

A wrought iron balcony thing … and an orange room, my favorite color.

This awesome restaurant had a windmill on its roof … what?

Some apartment building with an awesome little pacman/video game mosaic thing.

An average apartment building with a nice green balcony, but an even cooler graffiti-ed truck parked outside!

Oh my god, I was in heaven!!! This seafood shop was amazing as hell!!! The selection kicked any other place I have been in the ass. Urchin, snail, large clams, mussels, shrimp, weird lipstick looking things that were still moving … shit, most of the stuff was still moving, i was beautiful! People on the street thought I was completely insane as I stood and took repeated photos.

Zaritchka very pleased with the café selection.

The Moulin Rouge … I think we all know what that’s about. If not see the horrible movie/musical.

After a healthy dose of French living, we decided to go get drunk American style. So we set off to St. Michel, another neighborhood in central Paris on the south bank of the Seine. It’s a hip place, something like The Village in NY or Bucktown in Chicago. Littered with bars and cheap restaurants, it’s a cool place to live I hear, but most of all it caters to young tourists, particularly the American kind. So we proceeded to drink ourselves silly. Then a shocker. As we’re stumbling around looking for a place to take a piss (the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore failing us with restroom facilities) we stumble upon a little place by the name of Notre Dame. NOTRE DAME, in the middle of a drunk, DUDE? This is why I love Paris, it’s like the greatest and most beautiful of human achievements lie at your feet like they’re happenstance. Just something you pass on your way to the bathroom drunk.

Notre Dame mother#$&%er!

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