Sunday, June 26, 2011

We in The Red Light District!

Well, the Red Light District of Paris that is. Taylor and I visited the 18th district yesterday, known as Montmartre and home to struggling artists, the Moulin Rouge, the hills of Paris, and one of the most beautiful views of the top of the city. I started my day a little earlier than usual though. With training for the marathon, I had to get my long run of the week in. It included 7 miles of nothing but beautiful scenery that you can only imagine. Gardens, Notre Dame, cobblestone paths, the River Seine, and a handful of homeless. It was one of the longer runs I have taken here, but it didn't feel awful since I got to do a little more exploration around the city in the morning. This is also the time where other people are working out, which was different to see since Paris has seemed to me a place where people don't really focus on getting their sweat on. Then again, the city has completely changed within the past week. The amount of American voices I know hear has skyrocketed, and one of my French friends even told me "Paris in the summer is not my city". Tourist season has arrived.

Off to Montmartre we went and as we came out of the Abbesses metro stop, a huge group was marching through the area, playing whatever instrument they were carrying. It was a wake-up and change from the normally quiet streets have grown accustomed to. Seeing a marching band is not quite the norm. We then hiked up a cobblestone hill to arrive where the artists were all posted around outdoor cafes, doing original works or even portraits of those who want a painting of themselves in their home. Not quite my style. Taylor and I circled around, looking for something to purchase. We ended up making a loop and arriving back where we had started. They were small paintings, but so beautiful. The artist's name was Christine I later found out, so I knew that my purchase had been the right decision. My work had a scene of the Paris landscape against a blue background, including the Sacre Coure and the Eiffel Tower. She used a pearlized paint in some areas, making the scene look glowing. Taylor purchased one of the Moulin Rouge, with the famous red windmill standing out in the center of the painting.

We then headed to Sacre Coure, with the most beautiful view overlooking the city. There were street performers and men dressed as statues and bronze sculptures thanks to how touristy the area is. We also found the next John Mayer sitting outside with flocks of women seated on the grassy areas around him. After wandering through some of the streets in the area, we just happened to find a famous cabaret house called Au Lapin Agile and a well known pink cafe with green shutters called La Maison Rose. We decided that it would be good to get directions to our next stop, the Dali Museum. When you walk in there are black walls with sketches, paintings, and other mediums used hanging in clusters by the series. These included Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and Alice in Wonderland. There were also the iconic melting clock figures scattered throughout the museum. The museum was small, and I think more of his well known work is located in other exhibits, so if you are looking for these pieces, this museum will not be what you are expecting.

After a burger and fries near the artist market, it was off to find the Moulin Rouge. Walking through the area towards it was an experience in itself. There were porn stores and sex shops fitted into ever square inch of the stretch of buildings. Men were lining the sidewalks, and even not knowing French, you could tell they were staring a little too much and talking about who knows what to women passing by. After some uncomfortable moments, we finally found it. There were police standing in the area where people were taking photos of the famous cabaret, and I was so relieved to see them watching over all the Paris foreigners, including us. The weather finally started to seem darker, so Taylor and I both headed home until I figured out what would happen that night.

It turned out to be a relaxing Saturday night in one of the most famous spots in the world. We grabbed our bottles of wine from Carrefour and started walking towards the Eiffel Tower. Pretty much all of the girls that were still in town met at the landmark. We had blankets spread and got to enjoy watching the sun set behind the structure. After good conversation, some Bordeaux Rose wine, and passing around the licorice, the light show began. I don't think I could ever get bored of watching the Eiffel tower twinkling in the night, surrounded by people appreciating the same thing, and hearing music being played on guitars by those around. It was a perfect way to end my last weekend in Paris.

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