So begins my second day in Paris. Having awoken not quite as early as I had intended, I still managed to breakfast and leave by 9:00. My first stop was the Cimetière de Montmartre. I have what some would term a morbid fascination with cemeteries. I happen to think that they are some of the most beautiful places that man has created. I also find it fascinating to see the different manners in which men choose to preserve a piece of themselves in this world. This being the case, I wandered around the cemetery for a while. I eventually came across the tomb which I had been searching for.
Alexandre Dumas, fils, is buried here. He was the illegitimate son of Alexandre Dumas, père, the author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The son was a playwright himself and I was excited to see his resting place. I made my way back to the entrance of the cemetery, continuing to take in the many and varied tombs, some of which were quite striking. After leaving the cemetery, I made my way down to the Moulin Rouge. It was immediately obvious that I was getting close by the abundance of sex shops I was passing. The most interesting of these was named the “Sexodrome” and consisted of three floors. I kept walking, finally stumbling upon the small, yet famous establishment, the Moulin Rouge. It was not quite what I had expected, but this impression would be remedied when I returned in the evening to see it brightly illuminated in neon red.
After snapping my tourist photos, I began the rather arduous ascent back up the Montmartre. I was on my way to see the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris, known in English as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This basilica is built of travertine which constantly exudes calcite. This means that it will always be white. I arrived just in time for the service to begin, it being Sunday, and I took my seat towards the rear of the sanctuary. I did not understand a word of what was being said, but the music was incredibly beautiful. There was one singer in particular whose voice was as divine as the cathedral in which she sang. Unfortunately, I could not stay for the entire service as there was much else to do.
I made my way discreetly out of the cathedral and around to the side from which I could climb to the top of the dome. Sacre-Cœur is built upon the Montmartre butte, the highest point in Paris. The dome offers spectacular views of the city and, rather than taking photos from the top of the Eiffel Tower, one can actually get excellent photos with the tower in them. So I climbed. At this point in my trip, I was fairly tired of climbing big churches. I honestly do not understand the obsession the Catholic Church has with building these enormous structures. But, I was raised protestant, so…
Climbing down from the dome, I made my way to the metro in order to meet Noel. En route, however, I passed a bakery. This was not good. Being who I am, I stopped in. I managed to make it out alive, wallet intact, clutching a small bag in my hand. The macaron. Incredibly popular, compact, and most of all: delicious. I only had one but it would have been quite easy to knock back four more. I justified my indulgence with the fact that I had just climbed the highest hill in Paris as well as the more than 300 stairs to the top of the dome. Hooray for indulgence.
Having met up with Noel, we walked around the city chatting away and taking pictures. We made it down to the Sorbonne, the historic location of the University of Paris. There has been a university on this sight since 1257, basically the French equivalent of Oxford. The architecture was amazing. We also passed the Panthéon, burial place for the likes of Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, and Alexandre Dumas, père. However, I have seen my fill of impressive churches, so we walked past.
We stopped to get dinner in the Latin Quarter, and despite being in France, we had pizza. It was decent pizza, too. Neither of us had eaten pizza since our individual trips to Italy and we were pleasantly surprised. We then wanted dessert and, being in Paris, I wanted a crêpe. Banana and Nutella. Absolutely, fantastically, mind-blowingly delicious! The attendant was friendly and allowed me to snap a few photos while he was making it. Noel, on the other hand, wanted ice cream and a waffle. He got a waffle from the crêpe stand and we walked up and down the street trying to decide who had the best ice cream. Both of us having our dessert, we dug in.
From here we wandered off to the Tuileries, where apparently there is a permanent fun park that sells churros. Churros in Paris? I know, right? It was beginning to get dusky and the lights were coming on. We continued meandering toward the Louvre and we waited for the opportune moment to be tourists. Until that point we proceeded to speak in Spanish to one another about how annoying Asian tourists are. After we performed our tourist duties, Noel went back to the hostel and I on a night tour of the city.
Paris truly is a beautiful city and the City of Lights. Despite having already taken photos of the Eiffel Tower, I took a few more and headed down the Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe is huge. And deceptive. I was walking down the street, thinking all the while that I was getting close to the Arc. Wrong. It took me thirty minutes to walk the length and then I had to walk all the way back down, as I wanted to see the Pont Alexandre III. After visiting the extremely elaborate bridge, I headed back to the hostel in order to make the curfew. I did stop by the Moulin Rouge once more to see it all lit up. I was going to use illuminated, but it just sounds too pretentious and prat-like. So lit up it is.