A Spring Walk in Paris


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Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007
Le Moulin de la Galette restaurant. 83 Rue Lepic

It’s one of those perfect spring days – sunshine, a light breeze, warm in the sun, and not too cool in the shade. On a day like this, you may consider going to a museum – and then decide that museums are meant for rainy days. We are quickly becoming hooked on the bus system, particularly Montparnasse station’s: Bus#95 and #96.

You don’t want to be stuck in a Metro on a sunny day. #95 takes us directly to the Louvre – and almost all the way to Montmartre. For Montmartre, you need to get off at the stop Damremont/Clichy, directly across from the Montmartre cemetery. From there, it’s about 15 minute walk up to Place du Tertre via Rue Lepic and Rue Joseph du Maistre. (This is the non-touristy way to get up to the top of Montmartre as long as you don’t mind taking your time. From Montparnasse to Montmartre, the bus ride will take a full half hour – or longer depending on traffic, but you see plenty of the city: St. Germain des Pres, Tuileries and the Louvre, Opera, Blvd. Haussmann (the big department stores including Printemps and Galeries Lafayette), the American Express building which is currently empty and up for rent, Gare St. Lazare (Paris’s oldest train station). I’ve taken this bus ride twice in the last two days – and it’s really very pleasant when you get on at Montparnasse station where you’re sure to find a seat for the whole ride up to Montmartre.

Once you get to Montmartre you can bypass many of the hawkers that you would normally encounter on the front steps of Sacre Coeur – and spend your time on the little back streets leading up to the Mont.
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This is the way that we fell upon the Moulin or one of Paris’s remaining windmills which is now a restaurant. Actually we ate across the street from the windmill at La Divette du Moulin, 98, Rue Lepic, T. 01 46 06 34 84 (with French clients and a few tourists mixed in for good measure). This is also the restaurant where I had a surprise – a vegetarian main course of steamed vegetables in a non-vegetarian restaurant. (At 13 Euros, ce n’est pas donne – or that would translate as it’s not being given away – but the glass of Sancerre was excellent – topnotch – and the servings are ample).
I’m told that if you want to reserve a spot on the charming terrace of the windmill restaurant called Le Moulin de la Galette, that Wednesday is a quiet day of the week – but to be sure of a terrace spot, call up on Tuesday to reserve for Wednesday:
83, Rue Lepic. Tel. 01 46 06 84 77. (We haven’t eaten there yet, but we certainly will try it out before the summer is over).

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Approaching the Mont from this direction also gently prepares you for the explosion of tourists you’ll encounter on Place du Tertre. Another American was asking people – where is the place where artists draw portraits? The local vendors feigned a total lack of comprehension – so I told her – just keep walking uphill. All roads lead to Place du Tertre.
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Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007 Place du Tertre

On the Place we met a resident artist named Billy. Billy has been living in Paris for many years, but he comes originally from the Sudan. He told us, “I’m actually an architect – but here I am. You can always find me here at Place du Tertre.” I haven’t taken any pictures of Billy’s paintings. You’ll have to come and see his work for yourself.
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Billy at work on Place du Tertre

Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

To be honest, I’ve never bought a drawing or had my portrait done at Montmartre. When I was a student, it was too expensive, and after modeling for a sculptor, about all one can say is ‘ca suffit!’ Enough, already. Landscapes are more interesting – or other people – really.

That being said, if you’re visiting Paris, and perhaps for a once-in-a-lifetime visit, why not get a portrait done? It would make a much better souvenir than a handbag or a T-shirt.
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Oops! The accidental shot – well, if anyone complains – it goes immediately off the site – but it seemed so ‘Springtime in Paris’.