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Insurance - - CONTENTS - Text & Im­ages Roshini Ashok Ku­mar | Travel Blog­ger | www.wan­derosh.com

In The Heart of Mont­martre

CHEERY BLOS­SOMS AGAINST A PAINTED BLUE SKY, WIS­TE­RIAS IN BLOOM HANG­ING OFF IN­TRI­CATE IRON GATES AND SOUND OF AN AC­COR­DION PLAY­ING IN THE DIS­TANCE - THAT’S HOW I RE­MEM­BERED MONT­MARTRE WHEN I FIRST SET FOOT IN HER 9 YEARS AGO.

I’m here to­day and noth­ing has changed ex­cept for per­haps the in­flux of tourist. Spring I would say is the best time to visit Paris, and Mont­martre is one of my favourite places to come to. Artist out in the square paint­ing, while the hus­tle and bus­tle of tourist and lo­cals alike sit out to en­joy a glass of wine in spring’s per­fect weather is ab­so­lute bliss! Mont­martre is the sec­ond high­est point in Paris af­ter the Eif­fel Tower. From the top, one can view the skyline of Paris and a per­fect lo­ca­tion to watch the lights dis­play of the Eif­fel Tower at night. It is home to the fa­mous white-domed church, Basil­ica of Sacré Coeur, as well as the old church of Saint Pierre de Mont­martre. It is said that artists such as Claude Monet, Piet Mon­drian, Pablo Pi­casso, Vin­cent van Gogh and even Salvador Dali had stu­dios and worked in and around here. The Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Sa­cred Heart) is a beau­ti­ful Ro­manesque-Byzan­tine styled ar­chi­tec­ture with its white domes, is a sight that can’t be missed. It is the first thing you’d spot when you get to this area. It’s a rather young church com­pared to the other churches around as it was built about a cen­tury ago. It has a beau­ti­ful mo­saic wall on the in­side, which is worth the visit plus ad­mis­sion is free. But there is a fee for those want­ing to

get to the dome’s view­ing deck. Mind you there is no lift to be pre­pared to climb 300 steps to the top! It is worth the walk up but the view from the front doors of Sacré

Coeur is stun­ning re­gard­less there­fore walk­ing up 300 steps is not a-must-do. As I sat at the top of the steps and amidst bar­rels of lan­guages, I could hear the wist­ful ac­cor­dion play­ing in the dis­tance, the vig­or­ous ap­plause for a street per­former hang­ing on the lamp­post while bal­anc­ing a football, the vi­va­cious clicks of cam­eras, to the end­less ven­dors tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to sell chilled beer – it was a sweet har­mo­nious sync of chaos. It wouldn’t be a right of pas­sage to Mont­martre if one didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence all of this. But for a bit more history visit the old church of Saint Pierre de Mont­martre. It’s just next to Sacré Coeur and it can be easily missed if you are not look­ing for it. It is much older than Sacré Coeur. It was founded in the 3rd cen­tury by Saint De­nis and still con­tains some of its orig­i­nal Gallo-Ro­man col­umns. The an­tic mar­bled col­umns be­lieved to orig­i­nate from the Ro­man Tem­ple of Mars that was erected here some 2000 years ago from which Mont­martre took its name. This church has gone through wars and been re­built to what it is now. Its in­te­rior is mod­est, may not be as im­pres­sive as its younger ri­val but it does hold that aura of grandeur like a fine glass of aged wine. Af­ter vis­it­ing the churches, one should fol­low the crowd onto the cob­bled stoned streets as it would even­tu­ally lead to Place du Tertre (artist square is what I’d call it) where you’d find wa­ter-coloured paint­ings, por­trait sketch­ers and car­i­ca­tur­ists selling their wares. This square was once the hub where art le­gends of the 20th cen­tury used to roam. As you walk around the square you’d find lit­tle plaques men­tion­ing which artist visit, worked or lived in that build­ing. Tourist and tour groups would even­tu­ally thin out as you move

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