"La Butte- Montmartre-Go if You Must!" Montmartre Area Tip by hquittner
Montmartre Area, Paris: 211 reviews and 401 photos
As I ponder the trite drabness of Montmartre, I realise that every city that aspires to be a "Tourist Mecca" must have an "old town" and it is sometimes a "French Quarter". It seems odd that this would occur in Paris. The hilltop is an unvarnished remnant of a cheap-rent suburban village where in the late 19C and beyond, starving artists and writers (some of whom became famous) lived. It was a place where workers and others came on days off for a cheap meal, dancing and wine (like Grinzing in Vienna or Schwabing in Munich).The energy for climbing the hill was often saved for the red-light and cabaret district below (now the Pigalle Quarter). In my home city, New Orleans, the tourist area was once a flat Carribean upper-class residential district and the tourist venues that have taken over have no such geographic apartheit. The Pl. du Tertre emulates the worst of Jackson Square and I prefer the simple antiquity of St. Louis Cathedral to the garish style and interior of Sacre Coeur. (I do not disavow its piety). On the Butte some antiquity is preserved in St.-Pierre, a square away. In other places Paris has been too destructive over the centuries to have a real "old town", so why not enjoy its authentic beauties elsewhere? There isn't even a bistro worth eating in on the Butte. Sacre Coeur is more picturesque from the distance. For Seniors who feel compelled to visit, the Funiculaire is mandatory (See Tips). Stronger walkers can amble down to the Metro level and see the vinyard and houses painted by such as Utrillo (who he?) or the Lapin Agile where poetry is still read in the evening (if your French is that good).
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