Day 5: Paris, Part 4 – Meandering in Montmartre


La Moulin de la Galette with sunset approaching

For a day I left unplanned intentionally and didn’t do much by design, somehow I still have over 60 photos and walked 8.6 miles. I don’t understand how that happens!

To close a loop on something from earlier, a savvy reader pointed out that, while at the Montmartre museum the other day, I’d taken a photo of a swing that I said would show up in a Renoir painting at the d’Orsay. So where is it?

I looked for it everywhere but couldn’t find it. An image of it was shown on the map as an example of what you’d see in the Impressionist section so I knew it should be there. I finally asked a docent. “It’s on tour.” So thereyago. I found this on the internet, it will have to do for now.

The Swing by Renoir - a woman in a white dresss with blue accents down the middle of the front , standing on a swing, talking to a man
The Swing by Renoir

Friday morning I woke up right at 7am, having slept 7 hours straight for the first time on this trip. The nice part about that is I got to go downstairs for coffee as soon as I got up. I got caught up on emails and chatted with a friend over text for the first hour, and finally started working on the blog around 8am. So this is how a lazy day starts. Good thing I didn’t have anything planned because the Impressionist blog was a beast and took me 4 hours to put together but I was very happy with it in the end. And apparently others were as well. It’s always nice to get the feedback but I’ll say now what I say every trip: I’d do it whether anyone read or not; this is my souvenir. I’ve been known to go back and read them just a day or two later! But what I appreciate most about the process is how it makes me focus on things as I go through my day in ways I know I wouldn’t otherwise, and it makes the travel experience all that much richer for me.

So what did I do? I left the hotel finally around 12:30 and literally had no plan other than I wanted food. I’d only had a croissant and coffee at the hotel and was ready for something more. I pulled up Google maps to see what was around me. a house where Van Gogh lived not far from me. Let’s check that out.

But first some more local shots. Here’s the hotel again in daylight.

Hotel de Flore
Hotel de Flore
Looking to one side...
Looking to one side…
...then the other
…then the other

Not much to see, I just like capturing the immediate surrounding area.

Stairs again
Stairs again

These are the same stairs I ended the prior entry with, just going up now and in daylight!

Rue Caulaincourt from one direction....
Rue Caulaincourt from one direction….
...then the other
…then the other

This is the next street over, as it appears from the top of the stairs; I was on it or crossing it a lot throughout the week.

Le Cafe Qui Parle
Le Cafe Qui Parle

I stopped here for a bite to eat. The name translates to The Cafe Who Speaks.

Inside the cafe from where I sat
Inside the cafe from where I sat

I started with escargot. I don’t think I’d seen it on a menu yet so figured better get it while I can. They were amazing. I don’t eat them often but these were possibly the best I’ve ever had. It was really all about what they were in: a very light and garlicy pesto – really more just olive oil with some basil in it, it was that light. They were chewy in a good way and not all that different from eating a nice Portabello mushroom.

Their blue burger
Their blue burger

This was also on nearly every menu I’ve seen: a burger with blue cheese. And that cheese was Very Blue, wow!

I had an espresso at the beginning and then end - they are very good in this town - but passed on dessert
I had an espresso at the beginning and then end – they are very good in this town – but passed on dessert

 

The house where Van Gogh lived
The house where Van Gogh lived

I’d walked past this at least couple of times before, on Rue Lepic, on my way home. The only indication is the little while sign to the left of the blue door.

Further up Rue Lepic
Further up Rue Lepic

I’d always crossed this street shortly after Van Gogh’s house to pick up another at an intersection so decided to instead keep going. This is one of “those” shots you’ll see a lot of today – random street views that look interesting to me. This neighborhood is all about hills and and curves.

This looked interesting and I wandered up that hill
This looked interesting and I wandered up that hill
Fun intersection with Sacre Coeur in the background
Fun intersection with Sacre Coeur in the background

This looked a little like the same section that was adjacent to Sacre Coeur that first day I was here, but it wasn’t. That one seemed focused on tourists – with the souvenir shops to prove it – and this seemed more local.

My one selfie of the day, in front of the Dali museum
My one selfie of the day, in front of the Dali museum

I stumbled upon a Dali museum. Now, usually I’m a “only in small doses” kindofa Dali guy, but a friend who is following really likes him so I thought, why not? And I’m glad I did. This was actually a private collection. One guy – Beniamino Levi – commissioned all of this work from Dali. He was an Italian art dealer who would also curate when he came across work that he wanted to promote. He encouraged Dali to do more sculpture and did so by buying each piece; some of those sculptures are on display here. You can read more about Levi here if you like.

A bust of a woman
A bust of a woman

For those using screen readers, if these descriptions don’t make sense, just remember it’s Dali 😉 Here we have a bust of a woman – literally – whose makeup is almost geisha-like, wearing a headpiece whose base is a thick brown baguette of bread. On it is a bronze sculpture of two men standing, a wheelbarrow in between them with a couple of jugs in it, and on either side inkwells with pens sticking out of them. There are also ears of corn draped around her neck. When he first exhibited this in 1933, the bread and corn were real!

The above piece was by itself in a small entryway before you went downstairs into the gallery. Dali was a master of the period known as Surrealism. I’m including next a figure I really liked that I encountered about mid-way through. You’ll understand why I included it now in a moment.

Anthropomorphic Cabinet
Anthropomorphic Cabinet

A figuring lying down, help up by the right arm, the left arm stretched out, the chest replaced with drawers of different sizes in varying degrees of openness. From the description card: “The drawers are empty, seemingly suggesting that the cabinet, a kind of furniture made for storing miscellaneous items, may be considered a place where we can store images that rise from our subconscious. The raised hand seems to warn us not to approach unless we are strong enough to accept the surreal.” So there, you’ve been warned.

Space Elephant
Space Elephant

An elephant with long, spindly legs, carrying a yellow translucent obelisk almost as tall as he is.

Homage to Newton
Homage to Newton

Dali is implying that Isaac Newton has become merely a name in science, stripped of personality and individualism, represented here by the hollow spaces where vital organs and his mind would be.

Another version of Homage to Newton
Another version of Homage to Newton

He liked doing the same concept in different ways. In this version, the sphere hanging from the line represents the falling apple and Newton’s discovery of gravity.

Birdman, inspired by Horus, and ancient Egyptian god
Birdman, inspired by Horus, and ancient Egyptian god
Homage to Terpsichore, a mythological muse
Homage to Terpsichore, a mythological muse

Here’s a description I stole from the website. Will do this where available!

In creating his version of the muse of dance, Terpsichore, Dalí uses a reflected image, setting the soft, carnal muse against the hardened, statuesque one. The lack of definition in both faces clearly underlines the purely symbolic significance of these figures. The dancer with the smooth and classical form represents Grace and the unconscious, while the other angular, cubist figure represents the ever-growing and chaotic rhythm of modern life. Both figures dance side by side in everyone.

Dali's take on Venus de Milo
Dali’s take on Venus de Milo
A couch shaped like lips
A couch shaped like lips

I could see this living room in some 60’s home!

A sculpture in green bronze
A sculpture in green bronze

The website was no help but this was on of my favorites. A – dog? with horns? – standing in dramatic model’s pose, one hand on hip the other flared out, and a lobster coming out of its crotch. Why not?

Lobster telephone
Lobster telephone

And speaking of lobsters: an old fashioned phone with a lobster as the earpiece, although the voice portion of the handset is normal.

Space Venus
Space Venus

An homage to the goddess of beauty. From the website: The watch is draped over the neck to give us two opposing messages; that beauty of the flesh is temporary and will vanish, while beauty of art is timeless and eternal. The ants are reminders of human mortality and impermanence. The Space Venus is divided into two parts to reveal the egg, which like the ant, is a favourite Dalínian theme given the duality of its hard exterior and soft interior. The egg is a positive symbol and represents life, renewal, continuation and the future.

Red pump
Red pump

A classic red shoe with a large shotglass and something else in it, and a small black and white photo of two nude people framed and attached to the side of the heel. I’ll skip the platform it’s on for now – but reminds me of hangman!

Profile of Time
Profile of Time

Like many of these pieces, this is based on a prior painting of his. From the card in the museum: As the watch melts from the tree, it changes into a human profile, emphasizing the continuous relationship between man and time. When you tilt your head to the left, Dali’s head can be seen with an eye, a nose and the number 9 that becomes the famous Dalinian mustache! A tear runs from the eye, symbolizing the man’s difficult relationship with time which inescapably leads to death. However, the artist’s self-portrait makes him eternal.

OK, I admit I’m starting to like him more.

Vision of the Angel
Vision of the Angel

From the website: Salvador Dalí reinvents a classic religious depiction through an unusual surrealistic interpretation. As symbolised in this sculpture, the strength and supremacy of God is represented by a thumb from which all life emerges (the branches of the trees). To the right of this divine being stands humanity: a man bursting with life’s vitality. On the left, the presence of the Angel, representative of the meditative spirit, can be found with his wing resting on and supported by a crutch. Although man is united with God, God’s knowledge is supreme.

Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland

From the website: Like Alice in Wonderland, Dalí traveled a long and arduous road through the land of dreams, by means of his artistic expression. The artist was clearly drawn to both the incredible story-line and the extravagant characters in this intoxicating fairytale. Alice is one of Dalí’s favorite images. She is the eternal girl-child who responds to the confusion of the world behind the looking glass with the irrefutable naivety of childhood. After all her meetings with the inhabitants of this fantastic world, she returns to reality not only unharmed but unchanged by her surrealistic experience. Looking at Dalí’s sculpture we see that Alice’s jump rope has become a twisted cord symbolizing everyday life. Her hands and hair have blossomed into roses symbolizing feminine beauty and eternal youth. The Grecian drapes of her dress symbolize antiquity and the beauty that is respected throughout the ages.

The above is smallish, maybe 14 inches high in total. The one below was in bronze and more like 6 feet high.

Bronze Alice in Wonderland
Bronze Alice in Wonderland

Like many pieces in this collection, this was inspired by his earlier painting. Once he liked a concept he did it in several ways.

Alice in Wonderland painting
Alice in Wonderland painting
Surrealist Piano
Surrealist Piano

From the website: The Surrealist Piano is one of Dalí’s major iconoclastic symbols. The artist has chosen to transform the banal wooden legs of a piano, replacing them with dancing female legs, thus creating an animate, joyous instrument that can dance as well as play. Dalí often blurred the lines between the real and surreal worlds, taking an inert and lifeless object, and, with a wave of his magic surrealist wand, created an entirely new fantasmagorical happening.

I’d been to a Dali museum in Bruges in 2013, but I don’t remember the descriptions being as well written as these were. Levi was considered an expert on this period of art; I bet he wrote them himself. As I was leaving, I learned this was also a gallery – Levi is now 90 and willing to “share his work with others who appreciate it.” You, too, could have one of these sculptures for the low, low price of €18,000!

The street the museum was on
The street the museum was on

I continued with my random exploring of Montmartre.

Stairs again!
Stairs again!
The house where Picasso lived
The house where Picasso lived
The view up the street from the Picasso's house
The view up the street from the Picasso’s house
Le Moulin de la Galette
Le Moulin de la Galette

Remember the Renoir from the d’Orsay with all the people in it? It was inspired by this restaurant, a popular spot in Montmartre for 150 years. You can see portions of that painting on the blue columns on the right.

I had seen enough of Montmartre for now. I went back to my room since I was so close and rested a bit. I decided to head back to a neighborhood I’d passed the other day where I remembered seeing a massage place. (Not the seedy kind like the night before!) I showered and made my way in that direction. I walked through some very interesting neighborhoods – one so chaotic I wasn’t even thinking about photos, just trying to walk through without getting run over!

Marche Montorgueil
Marche Montorgueil

Eventually made my way here, Rue Motorgueil. “Marche” is “walk” – no cars allowed. This was also a very lively place. I found the spa I was looking for and lucked out – there was someone available. I had a super relaxing 2 hour massage for a reasonable price and it was just what I needed. I was done about 6pm and didn’t do much the rest of the day.

Dancing in the streets - literally
Dancing in the streets – literally

I came across these street entertainers – sometimes play fighting, then break dancing, then gymnastic acts.

I took my time walking back to Montmartre. I won’t bore you with more street photos I took along the way 🙂 I went back to that earlier restaurant I mentioned; the menu looked really good but as I peered in the windows I don’t think I was dressed enough. Would have felt too subconscious in my khaki shorts, white polo and sandals; it was a pretty nice place. But I got a cool shot of it with the sun starting to set in the background.

La Moulin de la Galette with sunset approaching
La Moulin de la Galette with sunset approaching

I walked around some more looking for something not quite so loud and crowded. Good luck on a Friday night in what’s possibly the liveliest neighborhood in Paris!

Vrai Paris
Vrai Paris

I eventually settled on this and asked to be seated in the back – far away from the noise and the smokers!

I was the only one back here for a long while
I was the only one back here for a long while
Snails and the ever present french bread
Snails and the ever present french bread

I started with snails again, these done in a heavy cream. At first I didn’t like them as much as the ones I had a lunch but they grew on me. You had to scoop up enough of the cream in your spoon to catch the full, rich flavor.

Lasagna
Lasagna

This was unlike any lasagna I’d ever had. Only two layers of pasta – in the middle and on top. In between was the thickest beef sauce I’d ever encountered – this dish was all about the meat. That crispy cheese was pretty tasty, too!

Chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse

Hadn’t had a mousse yet and this was my final dinner in Paris so figured I’d better take advantage of it. It was excellent.

And a good way to end it. I really enjoyed staying in Montmartre and enjoyed my walk back, as I did exploring it throughout the day. I would use Google maps but take alternate routes when there was a path I hadn’t been on yet. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with many, many interesting places to eat and hang out. I would definitely stay here again next time I’m in Paris. And i’m pretty sure there will be a next time.

 

12 thoughts on “Day 5: Paris, Part 4 – Meandering in Montmartre”

  1. Once again, my gratitude to you for taking the tme to share your experience here. I am literally weeping with gratitude for your descriptions. Especially loved your comment regading Picasso to those using screenreaders.

  2. I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog thus far! Thanks for taking me along for the journey!

  3. Love this blog. It’s inspiring me to want to return to Paris. The lasagna looks amazing. Had the best espresso in Paris. Glad to see you are #livingyourbestlife. Enjoy!

  4. Oh, Steve, some of your street scene photos are art quality. I’d love to chat about that when you get home. Thanks for finding the ‘swing’. A treat for me. And Dalí! What a wonderful surprise. Continued safe travels, my friend.

  5. Nice way to end your visit in Paris. I didn’t know of Dali’s sculptures. That and the walking and ending with a 2 hour massage.

    My mouth is watering over the french onion soup and escargot. I would fill up on all that bread too. So It seems London is next later today 8/25 by train I think. Enjoy!

I'd love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.