Montmartre and the tower

Eiffel Tower from below

Yesterday was mostly spent in Montmartre. We assembled materials for a picnic at a market near Mike’s, then headed over by Metro. The steps leading to Sacré Coeur were well speckled with people appreciating the view. Inside the building itself, one gets a much more sombre sense of grandeur than the upwardly elongated outside view suggests. We filed around the inside of the massive church, then headed over to a fortuitously discovered park for an excellent meal of baguette, fried peppers, sun-dried tomatoes of the best kind i have eaten, wheat beer, mozzarella, and white wine. We have yet to eat in a restaurant, largely because of the excellent opportunities afforded by street markets.

From there, we walked to a flat wooden pedestrian bridge across the Seine. On it were several hundred people, mostly of about our age. They were generally sitting in little circles of seven or eight, with food and wine in the middle. From there, one can clearly see the Eiffel Tower at a distance. It seems as though it is projecting two beams outwards from a rotating platform, but there are actually a series of lights that rotate through 180 degrees, then hand off to the next in sequence.

That arrangement became entirely evident one Metro ride later, when we found ourselves at the base of that elegant structure. As well as being lit by large numbers of tungsten lights – giving the structure an orange glow and nicely illuminating how the girders connect – the tower has been covered with thousands of flash bulbs that sometimes begin firing, seemingly at random. This creates the same kind of effect you see in movie portrayals of stadiums: where thousands of fans all firing flashes create a sparkling effect in the stands. Walking away from the tower, towards the former military academy, one follows a long lawn covered by young people arranged similarly to those on the bridge.

Today’s plan has shifted to include several targets of opportunity. The making of banana pancakes is a given. Beyond that, we may visit the sewers and catacombs. Hopefully, we will have a look at the Canal Saint-Martin, which is not too far north of where we are staying, about 1km from the Seine in the 12th arrondissement. It now seems unlikely that we will visit Versailles, but that is not overly regrettable. There is plenty to do in Paris before my flight back to England tomorrow evening.

PS. A nine square metre apartment can actually operate fairly reasonably with three people in it, as long as things are done logically and with constant attention paid to how much stuff needs to be stowed away at any particular time, in order to accomplish whatever task has been undertaken.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

4 thoughts on “Montmartre and the tower”

  1. the best time for art in montmartre would probably be the late 19th century. it’s all pretty tacky junk there now…although there’s a few gems left.

    seriously, i don’t understand how people can ruin a perfect little village by turning every shop into a souvenir stand with all the ambiance of a 7-eleven.

    marketwise, i’m not sure. i don’t think there’s a regular market in montmartre.

    that being said, it’s certainly worth seeing, in particular the area between la butte and métro line 2.

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