Sunday, January 4, 2009
A few nights ago saw us worshipping in style at the bedomed Sacre Coeur cathedral overlooking Montmartre and the rest of Paris. Dayne Johnston suggested we meet up there to get a good view of the city so off we went. The walk from our metro stop at La Place Pigalle and through Montmartre took us past a charming mix of adult stores, cat-calling French men and bang-up hole in the wall Bureau de Change offices. Needless to say no currency was changed that night.
There are two ways of getting up to the Sacre Coeur (without a helicopter): walking up the stairs and using the funicular/cable car. We decided we'd eaten enough bread that day to warrant a stair master workout so it was up the hard road for us. Despite the minus one degree temperature, by the end of the first stair set we were huffing, puffing and wheezing, but no longer freezing.
The church is a mindblowingly spectacular structure that towers above Paris when seen from afar but makes insignificant ants of anyone standing in its midst. And, for the fact lovers, it was completed in 1914 - according to the infallible source of web knowledge that is Wikipedia.
Inside the domed ceiling rises even higher than you could imagine, decorated with paintings depicting the lives of Christ and the Saints. We were lucky enough to arrive just in time for evening mass and chose to circumambulate the interior to a backdrop of choir boys and priestly blessings. Besides the paintings we all loved the glass encased red and white candles which worshippers could burn for 10 Euro a pop. We all wanted to take them away but were scared of public shaming and/or eternal damnation.
Me flanked by the sisters Rondel and backed by the Sacre Coeur.
Anouk and Jordan walking back down to Montmartre.
Walking back down the hill into Montmartre we passed Pigalle's famous Sexodrome. Visitors can make their choice: walk up the hill for worship of the heart, or stay at ground level for worship of the flesh.
According to crowd levels the Sacre Coeur won the battle that night. But will it win the war?