A friend of mine came to visit the other week. We went for dinner in Montmartre and had a lovely time chatting and catching up. After dinner, we decide that the best dessert would be crepes and a visit to the Sacre Coeur. Bryan played the perfect tour guide and shared some of the history of the church and other points of interest as we walked.
As we rounded the church toward the back to begin our descent, I had a little flashback back to the time when navigating Paris wasn't quite as easy.
I remember my first time in Paris. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see all the sites and landmarks I’d known about for years. I was on a group tour, Contiki for those (Australians) who know it. We arrived at the hotel on the outskirts of Paris in the afternoon. The tour guide gave us maps, a few directions and a deadline for when we had to be back for dinner.
My friend and I decided we wanted to go to the Sacre Coeur as it was only a short walk away and one of the sites on my list. We started walking and had to stop a few times to check the map and make sure we were heading in the right direction. A lovely lady even helped us because she could see we were lost (who said the French were unfriendly?!).
At little further up the hill and we could see the white domes of the famous church rising in front of us. We had arrived at Place du Tertre, the cute little artist square just behind the Sacre Coeur. It was getting late but we could see a door was still open, so we ducked in. It was smaller than we expected but heavily decorated in gold, so it felt right, maybe we were in a smaller section of the church but as it was late we didn’t push our luck to explore inside much further. We took our photos and happily headed back to the hotel for dinner.
It wasn’t until years later, when I came back to Paris and ventured back to the Sacre Coeur and went inside, that I realized I had never been inside before. What we’d actually done was enter the Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, a small church just off Place du Tertre that sits in the shadow of Sacre Coeur.
Whoops! Belinda, if you read this, I hope you get the chance to actually see the inside of Sacre Coeur yourself one day. It’s much more stunning, and bigger, than what we saw.
Now, many years later, with a bit of experience under my belt, walking this city is a piece of cake (or other pastry, for that matter). I've earned my "local" card and I took my visitors to all the right places. We had a lovely evening and finished off with a night cap at the bottom of the hill before heading home. And no one was mistaking the Eiffel Tower for some other monument, I promise.