Montmartre, Accidentally

Posted on
Aug 13, 2013

If you go to Montmartre, I suggest you do so without really meaning to. Set out for an afternoon walk, and end up there half on accident. That’s what we did.

I guess you could go there on purpose, too, but where’s the fun in that? You’ll probably be wearing appropriate footwear and will have your camera with you, instead of just your cell phone.

Be different. Go to Montmartre, accidentally.

After all, ending up there inadvertently is a rather amazing feat. The neighborhood is located on a hill, and it’s a long trek up. It’s not really the sort of place you just stumble upon. But that seems to be how things go with Rand; he’ll propose something crazy, but manage to make it sound reasonable, and I end up going along with it. Cake for dinner. Hikes up to Montmartre when I thought we just going for a walk around the corner. Marriage.

He knows that as long as he keeps me well fed, I’ll follow him to the ends of the earth. Which reminds me:

I also recommend that you stop at the Bo Man Cafe, about halfway up the hill. You can get a table without a reservation, which is important, because you didn’t intend to go to Montmartre in the first place, right? Order the duck confit. It will probably be available, because they still had it when we arrived, which was long after lunch.

Don’t forget to take a few photos of yourself and the love of your life.

Even though you are drunk on duck that was fried in its own fat, try not to look it, okay?

Oh, that’s one part I forget to mention: if you are accidentally going to go to Montmarte, you absolutely MUST have the love of your life with you. If you do not have a love of your life, be open to meeting him/her/it (because the love of your life might be a man, a woman, or a gelato), on the walk up.

When you grow inevitably cranky, because perhaps you are not wearing the best shoes for this impromptu excursion, and start making snippy comments, the love of your life will be able to turn on his heel (because he has disproportionately long legs and it is a struggle for your squat appendages to keep up with him, so naturally he is ahead of you) and ask what kind of pants you are wearing.

And you will smile and mumble something.

And he will smile and ask you again. This time you repeat your reply, louder.


And then you will both laugh, and he will ask you why you packed those, anyway. Indeed, why you keep packing them, again and again. You will say something about how they make your butt look fantastic, and he will agree, and there will be making out.

That might be the only part of this whole thing that you could have anticipated.

A little while later, you will pass the Metro sign designed by Hector Guimard, though at the time, you won’t know who he is. You will only know that it is architecturally significant for some reason. That it looks like a Mucha painting come to life, and you wonder if there was a time when all of Paris felt like a painting.

You continue walking up.

And just when you have concluded that you will not take another step because you are not dressed for this sort of thing, you will reach the top of Montmartre.

There will be people everywhere. Dozens upon dozens on them will be filing into the Sacre Coeur, because mass is about to start. You decide to stay outside, though, and enjoy the view.

Paris is quite flat, you realize. The city of light is all about the same height, since no building could be taller than the Eiffel Tower. Here you can see almost all of it, and find yourself wondering how the city must have looked to the countless artists – Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Modigliani – who came here to paint.

As you gaze at the panorama, you clutch your purse to your side, because you’ve heard stories about pickpockets. And then your beloved clutches you to his side and …

The two of you start sinning right outside of a church.


No one seems to notice, because, after all, miss, this is France.

Later, you walk around the crowded streets surrounding the Sacre Coeur. Every rue and alleyway is filled with people.

You pause to sit for a moment, and a group of nuns passes by.

During your rest, you briefly discuss the purchase of your summer home with your husband.

You finally determine that it is too big, and too hard to get to, and besides, wouldn’t a place in Italy be more practical? Yes, of course it would. Finances don’t enter the equation, because this is not a conversation grounded in reality, but in dreams of summers in Europe.

Later, you follow the same path the nuns took, back down the hill, and eventually, after more walking than you ever intended, you are back at your hotel, munching on leftover macarons, somewhat amazed that you didn’t get pickpocketed and that you went all that way without intending to. But wasn’t it lovely? Even though your feet hurt and you got too much sun? Yes, yes it was.

And that is how you accidentally Montmartre.

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