Paris…but not as you know it

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Claire Bourke, who has lived in the French capital for some years, offers a guide to some of its lesser known attractions, centering on her adopted area, Monmartre

Monmartre is like a little Paris within Paris, and is Paris’ famous
artistic neighbourhood. Forgo the touristic spots, get away from the
‘Amelie’ strip, and discover some secret gems only known to locals.
Mingle with Parisians in bustling food markets, visit the
small streets that are  a reminder that Montmartre was once quiet
countryside and discover a hotel-top bar to watch the sun set over the
Eiffel Tower..
Enquire when making your hotel booking about arranging a shuttle bus
service from the airport direct to your hotel, or consult the many
companies online (www.supershuttle.com, www.airport-shuttle.com/,
www.parisshuttleservice.com).
Stay off the beaten track in Terrass (www.terrass-hotel.com)  182,
12-14 Rue Joseph de Maistre). The hotel has been around for more than a century and was refurbished entirely in 2015.
The Terrass hotel is a hidden gem: great location (within walking
distance of sights like the Sacre-Coeur, Place Tertre, Montmartre
Cemetery and the Saint Ouen Flea Market), and fabulous views from its
rooftop terrace of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, perfect after a
day’s sightseeing. Room Tip: Request a large room rather than a room
with a view. The big rooms have stylish bathtubs.
Since  early times  Montmartre has always been a place of worship:
from the Gallic Druids and the Romans with their temples honouring Mars
and Mercury, to the oldest church in Paris, L’Eglise Saint-Pierre, and
finally, the Sacré Coeur Basilica which was built during the 19th
century. An inspiring and rare way to discover this lesser known facet
of the hill’s soul would be spending a night in the Maison d’accueil
d’Ephrem, the guesthouse of the famous Basilica of Sacré Coeur, which
offers you the chance to stay in the heart of Montmartre for as little
as 15 euro per night, ‘prayers for your immortal soul included.’
The only drawback to your stay would be the relatively early curfew (10pm), but that would be a small price to pay for the spiritual journey and religious hospitality you would begetting in return. A booking to the Ephrem guesthouse can be made atadoremus@sacre-coeur-montmartre.com – email replies take about aweek. The Ephrem guesthouse’s address is: Maison D’Accueil Ephrem 33, Rue Du Chevalier De La Barre, 75018, Paris. Tel: 0033 1 53418909  www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/guesthouse-and-pilgrimages/article/the-guesthouse-of-the-basilica.
Other hotels with reasonable prices and excellent facilities include
the 2 star Comfort Hotel Place du Tertre
(http://www.comfort-placedutertre.com/hotel-en_INDEX ( rooms from €75)
as well as the large  Hotel Regyns Montmartre, with rooms starting at
80€ (www.hotel-regyns-paris.com/). The location is magnificent: right
on the Place des Abbesses with a metro stop on your doorstep. Other
well-rated hotels in the heart of Montmartre include the Bonséjour
Montmartre (www.hotel-bonsejour-montmartre.fr/, ( about €80 a night ), the Hotel Audron  (www.hotelaudran.com ( €80) and the pleasantly named My Hotel inFrance Montmartre (www.hotel-basss.com ( €90) at the foot of the hill.
Saint Denis
Take the Metro to Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (line12), and walk this market street, a favourite with locals. Lined withspecialty food shops, excellent cheese shops, butchers, fish shops, fruit and vegetable vendors and even supermarkets, you can findeverything you need for a gourmet meal at home along Rue des Martyrs.
For a glimpse into traditional Parisian markets, on Wednesdays and
Saturdays until 1pm, visit Rue Ordener’s outdoor market (Rue Ordener,
between rues Montcalm and Championnet,  75018 Paris, Jules Joffrin
station, Métro line 12). Mingle among Parisiens shopping for seasonal
fruit and vegetables in this market created in March 1888, or sip a
coffee in one of the many bistrots and people-watch.
On the nearby Rue de Ronsard, the museum in the former Halle Saint
Pierre covered market in the shadow of Sacré-Coeur specialises in
contemporary & experimental paintings & graphic art
(www.hallesaintpierre.org/, 2 Rue Ronsard, 75018 Paris, +33 1 42 58 72
89, temporary exhibitions: 8.50€, reduced price 6.50€), in addition to
local exhibitons, a gift shop and a pleasant café all set inside an
old renovated warehouse.
Far from the Sacré-Coeur hubbub, Villa Leandre, a discreet street
named after local comedian Charles Leandre, reminds us that Montmartre
was once quiet countryside, before being annexed to Paris in 1860. It
is one of the quietest and more expensive streets in Paris where you
will find yourself in a world that does not resemble Paris: houses
built in the Anglo-Saxon style with traditional front gardens. Stroll 20m ahead of Villa Leandre to Square Suzanne Buisson – this
small square is hidden from the public eye. Most tourists never hear
of this square or even see it, unknowingly walking past the entry
steps as it sits elevated above Rue Junot. An area terraced in 1951 in
Art Deco style, it has a statue of St Denis in the centre of the
garden, a children’s playground and open space and benches to rest for
a Montmartre moment. 7 bis Girardon 75018
Romantic and poetic yet strangely obscure, the lyrically named Allée
des Brouillards (the Alley of Mists), linking the Square Suzanne
Buisson to Place Dalida (metro Lamarck – Caulaincourt, line 12) and
the eponymous Chateau des Brouillards which borders it are two
Montmartre legends which seem to have remained surprisingly untouched
by time. This charming area appreciated by artists like the poet
Nerval, the painter Modigliani and the filmmaker Jean Renoir to name
but a few.

Le Gabin restaurant
In Montmartre, hungry and looking for lunch but tired of tourist food
at high prices, Le Gabin (25, rue Lambert, 75018 Paris, telephone: 01
53 28 27 93), a very small and very local restaurant will be just what
you seek. Tasty dishes, with friendly staff, and a one-, two-, or
three-course lunch from 10 to 15 Euro! Set away from the touristy
cafés on the Rue des Abbesses, La Mascotte dishes up some of Paris’s
best fruits de mer and sole meunière. This typical Parisian brasserie
is open 7/7 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (52 Rue des Abbesses, 75018
Paris, www.la-mascotte-montmartre.com/). A little-known bistrot, in a
great location for people watching, is Le Nazir, 56 Rue des Abbesses,
75018 Paris, +33 1 46 06 07 17.
After lunch, stroll up and down rue Durantin and discover the
‘Monmartoises’ (‘from Montmartre’) shops windows (from the number 17
to 35). The characteristic of this street is that old signs have been
kept to preserve its authenticity. Discover for example an accountant
(n°17) or a crèche (n° 26) inside ancient ‘Boulangeries’. While
walking, look at the building fronts:  they  date from the 19th
century and are now protected.
Oldest church in Paris
The Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre (église Saint-Pierre de
Montmartre) is the oldest surviving church in Paris, dating from the
12th Century but the lesser known of the two main churches in
Montmartre, the other being the more famous 19th-century Sacré-Cœur
Basilica. The church contains some original Roman columns – it is
said that Dante came here to pray.

Paris is not the first city that usually comes to mind when one thinks
windmills. Hard as it is to imagine, until the beginning of the 20th
century the Parisian landscape was dotted with numerous mills, which
once numbered more than 300. The Radet (83, Rue Lepic) and the
Blute–Fin (now part of an Italian/French restaurant located on the
corner of Rue Girardon) are the sole survivors, which collectively
form the grounds of the legendary Moulin de la Galette, known for its
illustrious ball immortalised by Renoir’s painting Bal du Moulin de
la Galette).
As you wind down in the early evening, sip a refreshing drink on the
elegant rooftop terrace and restaurant of the Terrass Hotel with
stunning panoramic views of the Paris rooftops and be dazzled by the
light show that is the Eiffel Tower occurring each hour on the hour.
12 Rue Joseph de Maistre, 75018 Paris

Fine Dining
Montmartre offers an excellent selection of restaurants, discretely
hidden away from the tourist traps with waiters waving menus on the
pavement. Some of the addresses whispered conspiratorially between
locals:
Miroir, 94 r. des Martyrs 75018 Paris, 00331 46 06 50 73,
www.restaurantmiroir.com/
Bistro Poulbot, 39 rue lamarck 75018 Paris,+33 1 46 06 86 00,
www.bistropoulbot.com
Specialising in all thing poultry: LE COQ RICO, 98 r. Lepic 75018
Paris, 00331 42 59 82 89 http://en.lecoqrico.com/
And finally, want to pack as much of Paris as possible into your
pocket? Check out these 10 indispensable apps for your smartphone:
bit.ly/1haJPg1, including scrolling through the best of 1200 Paris
pâtisseries, sorted by speciality, arrondissement and quality, and
‘Where to pee in Paris – public toilets’.

Transport information:
Paris public transport system, one of the world’s most comprehensive
and efficient, includes the Métro (lines 1 – 14), the RER (light
sub’ costs €1.80, and is valid for transport on the metro, RER, bus,
tram and Montmartre Cable car (Funiculaire de Montmartre).  A ‘carnet’
(karn-ay) of 10 single-use tickets costs €14.10. Carnets can be
purchased on arrival at airports and in tobacconists.
Paris Visite travel cards are available for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive
days (http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/r_61654/parisvisite/, and offer 20%
reduction to certain monuments). However, these passes do not
represent good value, as a traveller almost never makes more than the
ten journeys daily needed to make the purchase worthwhile.
Line 1 of the Parisian metro crosses the French capital from west to
east, and serves important sites such as the Champs-Élysées, the
Louvre, Bastille, the Pompidou Museum.
Paris Metro tickets are valid for transfers within 1 hour 30 minutes
of first use, but only between certain methods of transport and
depending on the type of transport used. For example, you cannot
transfer from the Paris Metro to the Bus. Individual tickets and
Carnets of tickets can be used any time, even months after they were
purchased. Keep them (and all passes) away from magnets and cards with
magnetic strips. Skip those huge  red tourist buses and do it like a local instead, on one of the following buses:
Bus 24
Bus number 24 goes all the way from Gare St-Lazare (in the 8th
arrondissement) to École Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort (a little bit
outside the city centre of Paris). On the way to the Gare St-Lazare
you’ll pass the Jardin des Plantes and Notre Dame cathedral; then
you’ll continue along the Seine to the Musée d’Orsay, Place de la
Concorde, and Place de la Madeleine.
Bus 42
The 42 bus route begins at the Gare du Nord train station and cuts
diagonally across Paris going through Place de la Opéra, past the
grand Garnier Opéra, around Place de la Madeleine and Église
Madeleine, through Place de la Concorde, up the lower Champs-Élysées,
across the Seine on the Pont de l’Alma bridge, along the Left Bank
quais of the Seine, through the Champs de Mars and around the Eiffel
Tower.
Bus 69
The 69 bus goes from Gambetta (in the 20th arrondissement) to Champ de Mars (in the8th) and back. If you take the bus towards the Champ de Mars you’ll
see the following things along the ride: Cimetière du Père Lachaise,
Bastille, St Paul, the Louvre, St. Germain, Invalides Musée d’Orsay,
the Invalides and finally a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de
Mars.

 

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Senior Times also publishes Senior Times magazine and are organisers of the 50 Plus Expo’s in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Killarney.

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