Vista Points

The winding incline to the top of Montmarte, a vista point featuring Paris, brims with buskers and cafes, tourists and taxis. The two windmills (moulins), a variety of shops, and VanGogh’s residence (see photo with blue door) are stops along the way.

Wanting to see the views in daylight and darkness, we arrived at the top around 4 and headed down at 9:30. Sitting on the stairs across the sidewalk and beneath the cathedral, we watched the lights flicker across the city until it was luminescent from end to end.

In the cool night air, a man smoked a hooka; another man juggled a soccer ball on a pedestal; determined salesmen pushed Heineken, plastic toys, and “designer” handbags until two officers arrived. Suddenly, vendors flooded down the stairs into the night.



We took our photos for our Navigo passes at the Photomaton, thinking of Amelie’s scrapbook of discarded souvenir photos from this machine. On the way up Rue Lepic Monmarte to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur and the Eglise St-Pierre de Montmarte, we stopped at the Cafe des Deux Moulins, the restaurant featured in the film Amelie.

I think of Amelie’s efforts to improve other people’s lives as I consider Amelie’s breakfast on the menu.


From Versailles to the Moulin Rouge

From Versailles to the Moulin Rouge

In some ways going from Versailles to the Moulin Rouge is a sharp contrast: the verdant, placid countryside and the bustling, grimy city. At the same time, they both represent extravagance, and both had important gardens that served as gathering places for their constituents.

Home of the can can, the Moulin Rouge has attracted a Vegas-like scene: porno shops and adult movie theaters (a couple can view a film for 10E), and intoxicated, obnoxious party-seekers.

A subway exhaust portal, creates a Marilyn Monroe moment when women in short skirts stand over the breeze. Small crowds assemble to watch this free show.

“…but now we must cultivate our garden,” from Candide by Voltaire

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I woke under the heat of the tardy French sun. Disoriented for a moment, I observed the square trees, the swans and rowboats in the Grand Canal. I listened as children spotted fish (poisson) or ran through grass chasing a ball. A picnic and a nap should be a part of every day—especially in surroundings like this.

The view from the Palace to the Grand Canal gives some idea of the breadth of the grounds, but there is so much more here. Labyrinthine as a whole, Versailles’s gardens also feature labyrinths and fountains depicting animals from Aesop’s fables (to entertain the children in the past).

Bees and birds (and cats and rats, but not as many) thrive here even as tourists swarm. Two-hundred and ten thousand flowers (and nearly as many trees) seduce us to trek deeper into these colossal woods in search of the Belvedere, the Grotto, and the Temple of Love.

Let Them Eat Cake

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Let Them Eat Cake

Having visited many museums in the past couple of weeks, Versailles, at first, was not as impressive until I reminded myself that we were hiking through a golden residence brimming with treasures, and we were only able to view two of the floors of the Palace and a fraction of the rest of the compound.

Fortunately, some of the paintings and scale models of the grounds helped us get an understanding of what we’d seen as well as how much of the collection we were missing.

The ornate furniture, the enormous portraits, and the gold tips outlining the frames and architecture are monuments to the Sun King’s (Louis XIV) obsession for excess.