September 8th, 2009

Memories of Montmartre, Paris

Thought I’d start sharing selected accounts of my European trip in May.

The day before we (hubby and I) did the standard Paris thing – Eiffel Tower, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe. There wasn’t an actual itinerary for the second day – get to Montmartre and we’ll see what that leads us to.

We got to Montmartre by metro. Tip: if you are going to use the public transport more than 8 times (or 4 times each if you’re with a partner), it’s cheaper to get a carnet of 10 tickets (11.60 Euros) than a single ticket (1.60E).

Once there, we browsed through the shops selling souvenirs and then continued in the direction of the Sacre Couer Basilica. Along the way, we paused to take in the view of Paris from the hill. Ah, how blessed to be able to do this. Sat down to do a bit of people watching. There were a couple of guys hawking goods near the foot of the basilica. Some guys were forcibly tying friendship bands on tourists’ wrists and then demanding money afterwards. Here’s another tip: if you’re visiting a place, it helps to learn about the type of scams prevalent in that area.

After that we continued exploring the little alleys of Montmartre. I thought I’d have the feeling of stepping into set of one of my all-time favorite movies, Amélie(Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain starring Audrey Tatou), but no — this was real life so the scenes unfolding before us were not color-processed towards the warm tones characteristic of the movie. Ha ha. The area is very pleasant and charming nevertheless. We just need to walk one block away from the main tourist track to find ourselves completely alone.

We chanced upon a grocery store called Au Marche de la Butte that looked remarkably familiar.

Collignon's grocery store from Amelie Poulain movie in Montmartre, Paris

It was the store from Amelie (where Lucien and his evil boss, Collignon, worked). The real owner’s name is Ali and he has become a mini celebrity because of the movie. One of his shop windows was covered with newspaper clippings mentioning his store. Apart from that, the store front looked exactly as I remembered it from the movie. The Two Windmill Cafe (Café des 2 Moulins) looked totally different though. It has been painted pink all over. There was a garden gnome sitting on the counter.

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