Paris had become the top destination so far. Especially for Lythia. Not that she didn’t have her grumbles about all the walking we did. But today was the challenge of challenges for her, and we were not even aware of it as we awoke early and ate breakfast, in anticipation of the Montmartre visit.
The Sacré-Cœur was very close to the train station we would need for the Eurostar, so it was a good practical adventure to test timing of trains and routes on metros. After breakfast we made the typical walk to our local metro station and hopped aboard. Like always I was the navigator of these adventures. We needed on train change, and I chose the one at the Charles De Gaulle intersection, as it gave a direct line to Anvers, which was the closest metro to the Sacré-Cœur. As we disembarked from the metro, we found that iconic Parisian metro entrance surrounded by tourists, so we knew we were in the right place. but which direction. I followed my nose and logic and went upwards on a genteelly rising back street. Some how I must of guessed correct as my namesake lead me; in the form of a cafe called ‘Roberta’!
Then we turned the corner and saw the nightmare Lythia didn’t want to face. Several climbing staircases to take us to the mound. I tried to pump her spirits, but Lythia seemed to be suffering. We took to easy, and after the second large staircase I could see the Sacré-Cœur off in the distance to the right (on the horizontal). A quick amble and the majesty of the place made the gruelling climb all the more worth it. It was a magnificent sunny morning over Paris and the mound game a lot of scope in seeing the city from above.
I let Lythia rest a little as I buzzed around taking pictures and calling Lythia’s mother. One thing you can’t avoid in places such as this, and for sure Paris, is the amount of tourists. Even early in the morning there was a queue to enter and so we decided to keep to our hectic schedule and go back down and head to the Musee d’Orsay for an Impressionist wonder!! This was not before a quick walk around Montmartre and a scan at the artists at work in Montmartre square.
Going down stairs was more pleasant for Lythia and we were soon smiling and back at the Anvers metro. A new route down, as we needed to end up at the Place de la Concorde. Where we could have a short stroll down the Seine to the museum on the other bank of the river. As we began to approach we started to realise the full extent of this Free Sunday museum experience France has created, as a large crowd of people seemed to be hovering at the entrance. When we reached the place there as a line that folded like 8 times inside the courtyard and zig-zagged to the entrance. I was eager to see the Impressionists and so convinced Lythia to wait in line for at least 30 minutes to see what the pace was.
Luckily for us, the line moved very fast and within 20 minutes we were in the museum. Even though we were wanting to take in all the experience, my eye was open for signs to the Impressionists. When it was found, the B-line was made. Only to find that section was closed off for redesign; I was gutted!! Walking along the balcony area of the Musee a side room caught our eye and something sparked that desire for Impressionism again. We came across a Van Gogh. This was like the Holy Grail to me. Blood was pumping again, and looking around we found a temporary sign saying the Impressionists were on the fifth floor!! Off we went. Lucky for Lythia we had escalators to make the journey up, and then we entered a dark and moody hall packed with hundreds of people, all with one aim; to breath in Impressionism!!
The day had become complete. I get goosebumps even writing that I saw Impressionists work, but being there I was like a little child. Explaining all the points about the piece to Lythia. We even came across “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” which I had done an essay for in History of Art at Lythia’s age. I was happy. We had planned to meet Sophia at the museum, but it was evident this was not a good plan. After a quick call we arranged to meet at our next big monument; Notre Dame.
Like normal, I was in good to walk to the monument, as taking metros, you see little of the city. We made it to the large island and passed the police headquarters and the phone rang! Sophia would be a little late. We arrived at the monumental cathedral, and silly thoughts of Quasimodo entered my mind. We sat outside taking in the noise of the throng of tourists and ate our sandwiches waiting for Sophia. As the weather changed she appeared. Sophia convinced us to see inside and was a poignant moment, as some months later the cathedral was destroyed by fire! That done, we went to the back garden and viewed Sophia’s favourite angle.
Anyway, as we sat, Sophia explained that she had free tickets to see a Victor Hugo caricature exhibition at his museum. It meant another short walk, but we were eager for culture. Off we went. The exhibition was great, and it actually inspired Lythia to buy Les Miserables, in London (but that’s another story).
Culture was done, and so was our last day in Paris. Tomorrow would see a rush to the train station and the crossing to the UK. But before that, we met one last time with Sophia to have a goodbye meal at her local bistro and a long evening stroll back to the flat and a teary farewell. Tomorrow would see the Anglo-French stretch become more Anglo!!