Rediscovering Montmartre

A recent spring trip to Paris had me reveling in visiting the
old “haunts” that I enjoyed years ago while living there. A walk through Montmartre,
though, was particularly charming with its history and views of Paris. It had a few
surprises for me too.

Paris Metro AbbessesThe Place des Abbesses is a small square whose focal point
is the Art Nouveau metro station entrance designed by Hector Guimard. Guimard designed these metro entrances for the opening of the Paris metro system in 1900 that coincided with the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair).

The artist mecca that was Montmartre in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries can still be found. In Place Emile Goudeau,
the Bateau-Lavoir was the former residence for new artists like Picasso, Braque,
and Juan Gris as well as a “think tank” for writers, art dealers, and other artists.

Rue St Rustique, MontmartreA bit further up the hill (yes, Montmartre is the highest
point in Paris), an intersection with several tiny roads (rues Norvins, Saint-Rustique, and des Saules) represents what Montmartre would have looked like circa 1860-1900.This
crossroads was frequented by the artists Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne,
Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, and Monet among others. The artist Utrillo captured the character of this era in many of his paintings.

The Place du Tertre is charming albeit touristy. Today’s
artists set up their easels early in the morning and paint caricatures and sell
watercolors and paintings of Paris sites. A short walk away is the Eglise Saint
Pierre-de-Montmartre. It is the only surviving building of the abbey of Montmartre.
It is also the oldest church in Paris dating back to 1134.

Today, of course, the church that most associate with Montmartre Sacre-Coeur, Paris
is the Sacré-Coeur Basilica built during the turn of the 20th
century. With its location on the summit of Montmartre, it not only commands attention, it delivers commanding views over Paris.

I did mention Montmartre’s surprises earlier. To
reach them, you must descend the back, western side of the Sacré-Coeur. Clos Du Montmartre Vineyard, Paris, MontmartreOn rue
des Saules, the private Clos du Montmartre Vineyard lies with over 2,000 vines.
The grapes are harvested each October during Montmartre’s harvest festival.

Continuing west, a windmill can be found on rue Lepic. Dating back to 1622, the Moulin de la Galette has a long history that Le Moulin de la Galette, Montmartreincludes Paris sieges, a dance hall business, and relocation to its present location in 1924. The mill was restored in the 1970’s but no longer runs.

I Love You Wall, MontmartreFinally, heading back to the Places Abbesses to the Square Jean Richtus, is the I Love You wall. Sitting in the square you can rest and read the words, I love you, in over 300 languages – a nice ending to this nostalgic tour.

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Mush! A Dog Sled Ride

So, you thought you had to go to Alaska to go dogsledding?  I did too. But, to my surprise, I learned a short drive to New Hampshire would satiate my desire to experience a sled dog ride.

My husband and I spent a long weekend in northern New Hampshire last December. We were ready to snowshoe, cross-country ski, and even take a plunge in a hot water, outdoor pool. We didn’t know about dogsledding until we saw a pamphlet on it at our hotel. We were hooked instantly.Dogsledding

We arrived at the appointed time for our reservation. There were lots of dogs – huskies and malamutes – two breeds that thrive on pulling sleds. We spent time petting the dogs who were resting in between runs.  Though, I don’t know how much rest they got. Each time a sled ride left, the resting dogs would bark with excitement, jump, and pull at their chains. They were ready to run!

Soon it was our turn to go. We met our eight sled dogs then got seated in our sled with a warm down sleeping bag to cover us.  Next, with a couple of hoots and hollers from the musher, we were underway.  What a thrill! These dogs had a lot of horse power. We were moving at a nice clip. The 30-minute ride included going up and down some small hills, maneuvering curves and flat straight-aways.

DogsleddingAt the end of the ride, it was time for a reward. We brought dog treats and gave one to each of the eight dogs. We learned from our musher that the dog sled company rescues Alaskan Huskies who are at home doing a job they love. I’ll second that!

For more information on dogsledding in New Hampshire, contact Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. You may also contact New England Dogsledding. In the western states, check out opportunities in Minnesota, Montana, and, of course, Alaska.

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