Wednesday, October 15, 2008

France 2008 Day 5 Montmartre, Saint Pierre de Montmartre, Sacre Coeur

Click to Subscribe to Life Of DUG

Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
(Scroll Down for Pictures)


Got up at 6:30am and met Margarite for a run. I ran 9 miles total 2 mile warm up out to the Louvre then ran 5 miles at sub 8 minutes miles doing loops around the gardens and then ran an easy 2 back to the hotel for a total of 9 miles. I am not sure about this marathon training stuff.

We met Bebe and “The Rock” at 10am and went to our normal haunt for breakfast we did not even need to order, at this point they know us by name and what we eat. Gregory our waiter is heading to New York in a couple weeks so I gave him some contacts to look up when he gets there. In return he did some art work for us.

The plan for today is take the subway out to Montmartre. Montmartre is a hill (the butte Montmartre) which is 130 meters high, giving its name to the surrounding district, in the north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur 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 Salvador Dalí, Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

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 center of free-wheeling and decadent entertainment at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the popular cabaret the Moulin Rouge, and at Le Chat Noir, artists, singers and performers regularly appeared including Yvette Guilbert, Marcelle Lender, Aristide Bruant, La Goulue, Georges Guibourg, Mistinguett, Fréhel, Jane Avril, Damia and others.

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation after the defeat of 1871 in the Franco-Prussian War. Its white dome is a highly visible landmark in the city, and just below it artists still set up their easels each day amidst the tables and colorful umbrellas of Place du Tertre.

Once we arrived we followed a tour map that Bebe and Margarite were using. The tour / route stated to be an hour and started at one metro and finished at another. As we passed a particular shop for the third time within 20 minutes I took over as tour guide. I knew this was a huge risk and could blow any chance I had with Margarite but I had to do it for all of our well being. I had just run 9 miles and did not need any extra walking. With Bebe and “The Rock” getting up in years their bodies were breaking down and any extra walking was just going to wear them out faster.

Once I took over you could cut the tension with a knife but I know everybody knew it had to be done. This area had some interesting an eclectic architecture. We went by the town museum but only visited the gift shop. The central square was very busy packed with tourist. The center of the square had tables you could eat at, they were serviced by the restaurants that lined the square. Circling the tables were street artist and performers there was lots of excitement and activity. A man stopped Bebe, right away I thought another underworld rendezvous for “The Rock”, no! The guy started sketching Bebe he did not even ask permission every time she said no he would just speak French, and ask her to tilt her head and keep sketching. In the end Bebe had a portrait of herself or should I say a portrait of someone that might have been a distant relative. The artist said the portrait was 30 Euro “The Rock” gave him 20 Euros and we walked away. It had been a few hours since breakfast and Margarite was hungry, for such a skinny person she’s always hungry and eating. We figured lunch was in order and another sidewalk café. I see a theme forming again the service and food was good.

There were two churches to see the first was Saint Pierre de Montmartre it was built in 1134. Saint Pierre de Montmartre is the lesser known of the two main churches on Montmartre, the other being the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur. Historically, however, it has the greater claim to fame, since according to the earliest biography of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the church is the location at which the vows were taken that led to the founding of the Jesuits. Though according to its traditional history, it was founded by Saint Denis in the third century, only scattered signs of Gallo-Roman occupation have been detected at the much-disturbed site, where Theodore Vacquier, the first municipal archaeologist, identified remains of walling at the Temple of Mars, from which Montmartre took its name. In 1657 the antiquary and local historian Henri Sauval was shown remains in the priory garden that he associated with the templum Martis. The early church that was a stop in the ninth century for pilgrims en route for the Basilica of Saint Denis, belonged in 1096 to the comte de Melun. Louis VI purchased it in 1133, in order to establish in it a Benedictine convent, and the Merovingian church was rebuilt; it was reconsecrated by Pope Eugenius III in 1147, in a glamorous royal ceremony where Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter, Abbot of Cluny acted as acolytes.

The Benedictine community moved downhill to a new priory in the 1680s. Saint Pierre de Montmartre was ruined during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the 19th century, and today is visited by numerous tourists who tend to notice, among other things, the pillars of Roman origin used within the nave.

This church was very plan when compared to other churches in Europe. The second church Sacré-Coeur was built in 1919 and is much grander, larger, and more ornate then Saint Pierre de Montmartre.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, "Basilica of the Sacred Heart") is a Roman Catholic basilica and popular landmark in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre (Montmartre butte), the highest point in the city. The purpose of making a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, with its origins in the aftermath of the French Revolution among ultra-Catholics and legitimist royalists, developed more widely in France after the Franco-Prussian War and the ensuing radical Paris Commune of 1870-71. Though today it is asserted to be dedicated in honor of the 58,000 who lost their lives during the war, the decree of the Assemblée nationale, 24 July 1873, responding to a request by the archbishop of Paris by voting its construction, specifies that it is to "expiate the crimes of the communards". Montmartre had been the site of the Commune's first insurrection, and many hard-core communards were forever entombed in the subterranean galleries of former gypsum mines where they had retreated, by explosives detonated at the entrances by the Army of Versailles. Hostages had been executed on both sides, and the Communards had executed Georges Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, who became a martyr for the resurgent Catholic Church. His successor Guibert, climbing the Butte Montmartre in October 1872, was reported to have had a vision, as clouds dispersed over the panorama: "It is here, it is here where the martyrs are, it is here that the Sacred Heart must reign so that it can beckon all to come".

In the moment of inertia following the resignation of the government of Adolphe Thiers, 24 May 1873, François Pie, bishop of Poitiers, expressed the national yearning for spiritual renewal— "the hour of the Church has come" that would be expressed through the "Government of Moral Order" of the Third Republic, which linked Catholic institutions with secular ones, in "a project of religious and national renewal, the main features of which were the restoration of monarchy and the defense of Rome within a cultural framework of official piety", of which Sacré-Cœur is the chief lasting monument.

The decree voting its construction as a "matter of public utility", 24 July, followed close on Thiers' resignation. The project was expressed by the Church as a National Vow (Voeu national) and financial support came from parishes throughout France. The dedicatory inscription records the Basilica as the accomplishment of a vow by Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury, ratified by Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert, Archbishop of Paris. The project took many years to complete.

Sacré-Cœur is built of travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne), France. This stone constantly exudes calcite, which ensures that the basilica remains white even with weathering and pollution. The basilica complex includes a garden for meditation, with a fountain. The top of the dome is open to tourists and affords a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Paris, which is mostly to the south of the basilica.

Margarite and I decided to climb to the top of the dome over 300 steps. Bebe and “The Rock” sat out, they felt it was to much for folks of their age. The views from the dome were great similar to the Eiffel Tower but from a different perspective.

From the Sacré-Cœur Basilica we traveled down the hill via the funicular. The Montmartre funicular is a funicular railway serving the Montmartre neighborhood, in the Eighteenth arrondissement (district) of that city. The funicular is an automatic two-cabin railway that allows passengers to ride directly from the base of the Montmartre butte to the top, near the base of the Sacré-Cœur basilica, and vice versa. It is operated the Paris Transport Authority, and was first opened on July 13, 1900, although the current funicular is a much more recent renovation

Built by Akros, the current funicular is electric and entered service on June 1, 1991. It includes two independent cars with a capacity of 60 persons each. It can move 2,000 persons per hour in each direction. A trip in either direction, which covers a vertical distance of 36 meters and a track distance of 108 meters, requires somewhat less than 90 seconds. The funicular provides an alternative to the multiple stairways of more than 300 steps that lead to the top of the butte.

The stations of the funicular at each terminal incorporate multiple transparent elements and were designed by architect François Deslaugiers. The cars, which feature large windows, were designed by stylist Roger Tallon . The roof of each car is partially made of glass, which allows passengers to admire the basilica as they are transported.

The technology of the funicular is derived from that of standard elevators, which allows each car to function independently, with its own hoist and cables. This allows one car to remain in service if the other must be taken out of service for maintenance.
The original funicular was water powered, using a system of cisterns of five cubic meters each that were filled or emptied in order to move the cars and as a function of passenger load. In 1935, the system was converted to electricity. The funicular was completely rebuilt in 1990-1991.

The funicular was shut down due to a minor accident during tests in December 2006. It reopened in July 2007.

I was very happy I had taken over the tour my gut says we saw more and saved a few hours. The metro was just a few blocks from the funicular. Once back at our hotel (5:00pm) we decided we would nap and regroup at 7:00pm.

Bebe has a friend (Judy) that lives in France that will be joining us for dinner. We took the metro to meet Judy for dinner. Judy has lived in Paris for 20 years, since she was 23 years old. Judy is a very nice lady with a colorful life. At first I thought she was “The Rock’s” handler but it was clear they had never met. Judy is the friend that had told Bebe about the falafel place, so we asked her which one was the best she said she did not know she thought they were all real good. Dinner was excellent I had lamb chops (“BAH BAH”) and the others had fish. At one point Bebe’s phone rang, this was so funny she answered in case it was an emergency something with the animals back in Botswana. It was the folks we were meeting the next day in Bedoin. They were drunk and the connection was poor. Bebe at first tried to cover the phone with her hand so her voice would not bother other dinners, when that did not work she turned her head and talked to the wall. The wall was a mirror and it just allowed her voice to amplify and travel further. She was louder then when she announced to every body on the plane Margarite was in the bathroom. Once off the phone the other diners stop giving us looks that could kill. After dinner I suggested walking back it was a cool night with a full moon. I was hoping the walk would be too much for Bebe and “The Rock” and Margarite and I would be alone. Unfortunately I think Bebe knew my intentions and made “The Rock” walk with us, so much for romance. That kind of through ice water on my last night in Paris, plus I have a 13 mile run in the morning so once back at the hotel it was off to bed for me (alone), the others headed to the hotel bar.

No comments: