For day 2 of our 3 days in Paris, we start and end in the Montmartre area where we are staying.
In between, we offer five centuries of nudity, and the sweetest Parisian competition imaginable.
We’ll power it all with our breakfast and coffee from Boulangerie Coquelicot, on the nearby rue des Abbesses. Scarily, I ordered the regular coffee – and I think I got you the large!
Hidden from us but just ten minutes walk away is the Sacre Coeur, the century-old basilica (that’s young!) built atop the highest point of Paris. The cloudless sky means extra heat as we make our way up the hill and through the square of artists offering us caricatures; once we reach the glistening white church we are thankful for the crisp and clear blue morning.
Most people ascend to the Sacre Coeur via the stairs – the streets of Montmartre are a much better option. The grand Romano-Byzantine style makes Sacré-Cœur an impressive construction inside and out; having experience two other churches yesterday, we’re more impressed to note the statue of St Joan of Arc on the exterior façade – and of course to take in both the elevated view and the people-watching.
Did you know Paris has such a power over Japanese love-birds that there is a disease called Paris Syndrome, created when the reality fails to meet the expectations. This article suggests McDonalds as a cure; we suspect that’s the last thing on the mind for this group of wedding brochure photographers.
We Promised You Nudity
and we plan to deliver, as we head (by Metro this time) to Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre.
If museums bore you, then you need to be aware that you can ‘do’ the Louvre in less than 6 minutes. At least, that’s the tongue-in-cheek world record, where the rules are solely that you have to view the ‘big 3’ – the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
At the other extreme, of course, it is actually impossible to do the Louvre even across all of the 3 days we have in Paris. Some middle ground must be found – so over the next 2 hours, let’s seize this opportunity to take in those most-famous sights (and the crowds surrounding them) and whatever else takes our eye.
There’s more to the Louvre than classical paintings, of course. There’s the Ancient Egyptology
and the architecture, both modern and classic
and remnants of the medieval fortress, the original construction on the site
As for naked ladies and gents? We’ve got plenty of them
And just when you think you’ve seen enough painting, sculpting, and architecture for this lifetime, we exit the Louvre for a walk through the springtime Jardin des Tuileries.
The Sweetest Thing
Who has the best macarons in Paris? It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves since our ‘Feels Like Home in Paris‘ hosts provided a taster set of macarons upon our arrival.
We ask ourselves again as we head for lunch at Ladurée, the patisserie that’s been serving Parisians (and tourists) sweets for more than 150 years and (in some versions of history) was the site where the macaron was created; the other contenders today are:
- Pierre Herme: A deserved reputation, and the most popular choice
- Arnaud Larher: Absinthe macaron defines Montmartre perfection
- Pierre Marcolini: Better known as a Belgian chocolatier, and my personal selection
Ultimately, the only winner is this competition … is you – as you choose from flavours that can sound more botanic, or floral, or like the inside of a liquor cabinet, than ganache-filled brilliance. And if you can’t choose a winner (even after a second round)?
Well head back to Ladurée to drown your equivocation in a Saint-Honoré Rose. We’ve ordered one for you in anticipation.
Kick up your Heels
Disappointed that the nudity so far has only been in marble and watercolours? Tonight offers so much more, told through the art of dance at the Moulin Rouge.
There’s no doubt Nicole Kidman’s film helped reinvigorate the fame of the Red Windmill, the Belle Epoque cabaret, the haunt of Toulouse-Lautrec (and it’s a little crass to mention the Australian film, though it seems half the dancers tonight are antipodeans!). But don’t come here expecting Ewan McGregor to sweep you off your feet: tonight is a cabaret, swinging frenetically from “dancey dance” to snake wrestling to laugh-out-loud mime (the latter being a speciality exclusive to France).
And since this is a family website, we can’t show you any stills from the dancing itself – just know that you can expect wall-to-wall topless dancers for most of the numbers in the two-hour main production.
Most of our group have glowing reviews for the Moulin Rogue spectacle – and also suggest that adding on the dinner package to make it a longer experience is definitely worth the extra investment.
Personally, I found the Moulin Rouge to be the most excruciating four hours of my life. Travel is all about leaping into the world with no regrets … but if I could change one thing, I would have skipped Moulin Rouge.
Especially if I could have had another Ladurée dessert instead.
Want to go? Need to know!
- Macarons are best enjoyed fresh – though the ganache filling will keep them moist even as the exterior dries a little.
- Avoid the Louvre queues by buying your €12.10 ticket online (note: you have to collect this in advance, most easily from the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysée). Plan your visit if you wish to experience specific pieces (like the Mona Lisa) without spending the whole day wandering the wings.
- Reserve your Moulin Rouge tickets online – the show plus a half bottle of champagne is €105; add dinner and attend the earlier performance from €175. Or don’t, I’m just saying.
Calling all francophiles – what are your favourite experiences of Paris? Let all of our readers know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.