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Friday, January 31, 2014

DAY 186 - Yes, Virginia...There Really is Africa in Paris!

Sept 21 - Montmartre Walk and Our Paris Hosts

The city of Paris is divided into twenty administrative districts, more simply referred to as arrondissements.   The Rue Saint-Jacques, where our Paris hosts lived, is a street in the Latin Quarter  (5th arrondissement), which lies along the cardo of Roman Lutetia. It is one of the oldest districts, dating back to ancient times.  It was the starting point for pilgrims leaving Paris to make their way which led eventually to the final destination of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (where we'll go in about 10 days.)  How exciting because we will walk along that very Pilgrim Trail!

Looking out their window onto the Rue St. Jacques.

 Mahery and Justine lived in a flat that was built in 1759, right after the French Revolution.  It had a lot of history.

 They had a great view of Notre Dame just down the street from their flat.

 We walked up these steps - 250 years old - to get to their flat.  Just think of all the wonderful people through the years that have walked these same steps.  They were really worn in places and the steps had sunk down in other places.  I loved the blue color and the tile work was exquisite.  Such HISTORY!!
OH!  If only the steps could talk!
This was our couch/bed for three nights - very comfy!

The steps went up into the loft and to the bathroom.  See the OLD wood.

It was decorated so cute!

Welcome to our kitchen - let's have something to eat.

Appetizer - cheese wrapped pork thing....Rich loved it!

Mahery made us dinner as Justine had a class - spicy & tasty!  A Creole dish from the Indian Ocean with chicken, tomatoes, and onion.  He's quite the cook!

The next day, they wanted to take us to Montmatre (a ritzy and upscale part of Paris) and also to their "Little Africa."  These sites were in the 18th arrondissment.

Meet Justine - these two were awesome!

We explored the rich artistic history of Montmartre. It was fun as we wandered the cobblestone streets and marveled at the bohemian streets and made our way to the breathtaking view at the highest point in Paris.  Montmartre is a 130 meter high hill in the north part, primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur (built 1876 to 1912) on its summit and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded. Many artists had studios or worked around the community of Montmartre such as Dali, Modigliani, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh
Don't they just look so spiffy - all dressed up?

Since Montmartre was outside the city limits, free of Paris taxes and no doubt also due to the fact that the local nuns made wine, the hill quickly became a popular drinking area. The area developed into a centre of free-wheeling and decadent entertainment at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. In the popular cabaret, the Moulin Rouge, and at Le Chat Noir, artists, singers and performers regularly appeared.

Unfortunately, we had to hurry through the area because we were going to dinner at Mahery's parents, so we missed Moulin Rouge - kind of forgot about it.  :(

I found a photo of what we missed!

A puppet show right on the street.
...and another one!

Paris is all about their famous baguettes and croissants.  YUM!

We're all a little goofy!
LOVE all the ivy growing on the walls of the old buildings.

Sundial, false-ancient, with an inverted N (and a normal N) and the old orthography "Quand to Sonneras Je Chanteray", showing a rooster, in rue de l'Abreuvoir, Montmartre district

This is where I'll fill up my water bottle - isn't that fun?

 The Les Deux Moulins, (the two windmills) is actually one of the nicest bistro/cafes in the neighborhood. It's always busy and filled with local arsty fartsy types and tourists looking for Amelie. She worked in this cafe in the well renowned movie -Amélie.

The film met with critical acclaim and was a major box-office success. Amélie won Best Film at the European Film Awards in 2001.


 The Moulin de la Galette is a windmill and associated businesses. Since the 17th century the windmill has been known for more than just its milling capabilities. 
Le Moulin de la Galette

Some famous person lived here, but now I can't remember.
There is quite a pilgrimage toward the place that nurtured most of the great artists and writers living in France this past century. This is the place - Montmartre.

Lots of tourists walking the cobblestone pavements.

The Rue Foyatier is a street which was opened in 1867.  It was given its current name in 1875, after the sculptor Denis Foyatier (1793–1863).  It is one of the most famous streets in Paris, because it consists of flights of stairs giving access to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Montmartre funicular runs alongside it.

A glimpse of the Eiffel Tower - can't wait to go there!

 The Basilica Sacre-Coeur was only built a century ago, after a brief but successful occupation by the Germans in 1870. It wasn't yet Hitler, but Bismark's Prussian army. The Basilica is basically Roman architecture and took over 40 years to build. From a distance, the stark white domes are powerful and imposing. During WWII, 13 bombs are said to have landed on the church, but with no casualties.

Panorama from the highest point in the city - GREAT view of Paris!

Isn't this a cool tree?

In just a blink of an eye, we went from the amazing walk in Montmartre to the streets of Africa.....The Château Rouge area.

Since the 1990s, Château Rouge has been known for the specificity of the products that are sold there by traders from France, North Africa, China, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent.  Over 100 shops have products ranging from fresh and processed foods to textiles, clothing, cosmetics and cultural products 

Thankfully, we were not there on a Sunday.  I guess the place is CrAzY then with everyone coming for the markets.
Unfortunately, the streets were littered and dirty.  I would most definitely not want to be walking here at night.  Mostly, it was just a different culture; people dressed wild and crazy;  very noisy; police cars in many places patroling the area.

You'll find everything here - African princesses who have become stars on French TV, thieves, drug dealers, artists, French middle class families who live here and fight for their turf or who just come to Château-Rouge to do their groceries or buy colorful fabric.
The heart of the neighborhood is the rue Demean. Every day, the most amazing market takes place there. Sunday is the busiest day. Here, fruit look like vegetables, bananas are huge and vegetables look like nothing you know. 
We witnessed the most amazing sounds, colors and atmosphere. This is a very different Paris. 

Beautiful BRIGHT and colorful fabrics!
The police came through and were trying to bust some of the vendors selling their wares without permits or licenses.  It was a bit scary for a moment.  They didn't really like me taking pictures either.  Uh-oh!


Justine - You look out of place here.

eww!  Shall we get some animal hooves for dinner?
Appetizers first - a delicious array of foods
We finally got to our destination after a full day of walking.  Mahery's mom and step-father were delightful and so happy to entertain us Americans.

Pork Saucisson - also made from Donkey and Horse....mmm  served over kendran de vean (noodles)

Everyone is so serious, but only for a moment

We were a little more crazy on our side of the table.
A delicious fruit tart for dessert
We tasted three types of cheeses after dinner:  Roquefort (not my favorite), Crottin de Chevere (Goat Cheese), and Camebert (from Normandy)...I liked this one!
After dinner is always cheese and bread - a nice tradition!
What an absolutely GREAT meal with GREAT French people!  Thank-you Jean Claude & Lilian!
On our way home, Mahery and Justine said we had to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night and twinkle for 10 minutes at 10 p.m.  So they took us to a cafe near their flat.
 How romantic it is supposed to be to kiss while the Eiffel Tower is sparkling!  So the waiter took some pictures for us.
I found a beautiful fresh-flower lei, so I put it on.
 UH oh!'re not supposed to have your eyes open for this epic kiss in the moonlight in Paris.  Only a Frenchman would do that!
The Eiffel Tower is just down the street, but we couldn't capture it twinkling for the photo.

It's interesting to see the variety of drinks we ordered late at night.  HA!  Such a wonderful day we had!
We still have to go to Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Garden of Luxembourg, and try to find Rich's great-great-great-great ... grandfather's plaque on an OLD 1600's building where he used to work as an apothecary.  Stay tuned!