Happy Valentine's Day! To celebrate notre amour, Deven and I went to Montmartre, which is supposed to be the most romantic neighborhood in Paris. It was nice, but frankly too crowded to be 100% pleasant. I was also in a bad mood (sorry D) which wasn't helped by the people behind us on the long set of stairs that led to the basilica. They were American tourists who were evidently easily exhausted and made sure everyone knew about it: "More stairs? Ugh, where is the elevator? Hahaha! Man, these stairs..." It was fairly aggravating. Interestingly, I heard more English around me today than on any other day since my arrival. I suppose people flocked to Paris for Valentine's Day...? Thankfully, most were not as annoying as our staircase buddies.
As you can see above, Deven and I visited Sacré-Coeur, the creamy white basilica that overlooks Paris. The French word for basilica is basilique, so you can understand why I misspoke and tried to call it a basilisk. I wish photographs had been allowed inside the church, because the stained glass windows are so different from all the other églises we've seen. Sacré-Coeur is relatively young; it was built between 1875–1919. Les vitraux are therefore very modern, almost abstract. Example here.
Montmartre, the surrounding area, used to be a hub for artists like Picasso, van Gogh, Erik Satie, and Langston Hughes. It was an inexpensive yet charming place to live. Now, of course, real estate is on the high end, and pricey cafés line the boulevards. Apparently there's also a great flea market around there, which I'd love to check out, except I fear haggling.
There were some other interesting characters near Sacré-Coeur. Check out yoga-pose-photographer and a street performer dressed as a silver elf (complete with flute and pointed ears) below.
I plan to come back to Montmartre when the weather gets nicer and there aren't so many tourists (those two may be mutually exclusive, however). I know that I myself am a tourist, but I confess I feel a certain irritated pretentiousness because I live in Paris, I'm not just visiting. It's very silly — my French is still very bad and I walk around taking photos of buildings just like every other American.
The café where Amélie Poulain worked, Café des Deux Moulins, is also in Montmartre. Planning to use one of my nine Polaroid shots there. Am also considering paying 4€ to take my photo in one of the photobooths that are in every Métro station. Am also considering reenacting the entire movie.