A sacred heart

This past Monday I spent yet another long day with the kids, but on Tuesday they finally started school—hallelujah praise the Lord! It’s not that I don’t love spending time with the kids, but the last week had been making me feel a bit claustrophobic—2 antsy kids in a little apartment was a recipe for fatigue.

So when la rentrée (the French term for “back to school”) rolled around, I was more than happy to have a little sleep in and then do something touristy. The windows in my own apartment offer a stunning little view of the Sacré-Coeur, so I decided it was about time to pop over and introduce myself.

The view from my window one morning

And just for kicks, here’s the view at night

I opted to walk from my apartment hoping that it would lend me a chance to see a bit more of my neighborhood and get my bearings straight. It turns out I don’t live very far from the famous Montmartre Cemetery, the Moulin Rouge, and the Sacré-Coeur herself. I think in total it was about a 30-35 minute walk.

Taken with my iPod, so not the best quality, but here’s the Moulin Rouge

When I made it to the church, an endless array of stairs stood ready to greet me. Back home in Georgia, my grandfather had issued a challenge. “Your grandmother,” he said, “climbed up all those stairs. So if she did it, you have to do it too.” Granted, my grandmother also said they hadn’t realized at the time that there was another way up—a little cable car that rides up the hill.

The Sacre Coeur and all those steps!

Ready to meet the challenge, I started the ascent and found that, actually, the stairs weren’t so bad. Maybe I’ve been so conditioned by the 7 flights to my apartment, or maybe it was also the little breaks I took between staircases to take in the views. Either way, I made it to the top and took a turn walking inside to observe a bit the mid-day mass. The singing was just as beautiful as the inside of the church. There were signs everywhere, though, asking people not to take photos inside. Of course, many people did anyway, but I just didn’t feel right about it, especially in the middle of a service. So a photo from the internet will have to do until you can come and see it for yourself.

Inside the church (stolen from here)

Getting up close and personal–the statue is of St. Joan of Arc

Afterwards, I decided to climb to the top of the basilica’s dome for a small €6 fee. These staircases, however, are not for the faint of heart. Winding in a tight spiral with very little light, I started to worry I’d be stuck forever in a never ending swirly dungeon. The sounds of footsteps of fellow tourists ahead of me kept me going, though, and at the tippy top we were all rewarded with some spectacular views of Paris.

Despite blue skies over the church, it was actually a bit foggy over the rest of the city

When my jaunt around the church was over, I strolled around the shops behind the church and bought myself a pain au chocolat while simultaneously trying to avoid all of the “portrait sketchers” begging to draw me for a small fee. The area was definitely overrun by tourists and trinket shops, but the buildings and streets were beautiful and oh so French.

Overall, it was a nice day out and definitely a much needed break from the previous week.

À tout à l’heure,

Meg

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