Thursday, May 31, 2007

Paris - Montmartre

I walked around Montmartre alone on a Sunday. The weather was overcast and I did buy a cheap umbrella along the way. Like many other places I've been as soon as the first rain cloud appears the racks of umbrellas are rolled out front. To escape the Abbesses metro station you have the choice of either walking up 105 steps or taking the elevator - I count taking those steep steps as a good workout! The Place des Abbesses is a beautiful little park with a children's carousel. A flea market with merchants selling all sorts of mostly second hand goods was going on as well - I browsed a bit but didn't see anything I really wanted.
Close by I easily found Au Grain du Folie - a vegetarian restaurant I had on my "must do" list. The restaurant was tiny (4 tables) and rather untidy and cluttered. If I hadn't read about it I would have probably walked by - thank goodness I didn't! The chef/waiter/owner? was running the show alone and I asked her to just make me whatever vegan dish she liked. I poured a bottle of fizzy water and listened to what I swore sounded like a French version of Sunday NPR programming playing in the background. After a leisurely wait, I was served a wonderful vegan lunch. Rice, white beans, shredded carrots, green and purple cabbage, grainy bread with a earthy eggplant spread and a shepherd's pie filled with coarsely mashed cauliflower and topped with lightly sauteed squash and onions were casually arranged on a huge plate. The cabbage was lightly seasoned with oil and vinegar - moderate seasoning of cumin and wonderfully sweet sauteed onions was present throughout. Finishing the meal with a slice of vegan cheesecake I was ready to take a walk - and all for 21 euros!
I headed out to see the Sacre Coeur and the highest point in Paris. I was not disappointed! Most incredibly were the apartments hanging from the hillside affording the residents a spectacular view of the city - I can't imagine what the rents must be. Place du Tertre was a tourist trap but fun to browse around. I wouldn't buy anything there with the idea I had a uniquely made in France item. The vineyard on Rue des Saules was amazing with the vines terraced along the hillside. The streets in this part of the city were narrow and steep and would prove to be a challenge to navigate except for the reasonably physically fit. I ended this walk at the metro station on the Boulevard de Clinchy in the Pigalle District which looked like any other "adult" district I've seen. I took few pictures this day because the clouds kept spitting rain.

Back on the home front...

After work last night, I meet my husband for a night of camping along Craig' Creek ~
45 minutes northeast of Roanoke. Earlier this year, we purchased a pop up camper and this was the first time we had the opportunity to use it. Now I know that some people may wonder how a woman who just spend a week in Paris could possibly enjoy camping and all I can say is that I enjoy both for the chance to veer off my usual routines and experience life from a different perspective be it on the streets of Paris speaking high school French or relaxing along a creek listening to the tree frogs. The sound of the water was a soothing accompaniment to a restful night of sleep.
Driving back this morning, I spotted these stone structures that were furnaces used in iron manufacturing in the 18th century. These are now preserved for their historic value. Closer home, I snapped a picture of this delightful barber shop
- it looks as if it should be on the set of the Andy Griffith show. BTW, reruns of the Andy Griffith show have been running on one of the local TV stations for years - anytime there is talk of changing the schedule there is so much local protest it remains - I admit to being one of the loyal fans!