We arrived in Paris with a week to explore the city before our workshop starts in Aix en Provence. Our apartment in Montmartre is great – close to some great bars and cafes, and just down the hill from Sacré Cœur.  A 6 day metro pass costs around 25 Euro and makes traveling around the city so easy – it is rare to wait more than a couple of minutes for a metro and the system is well signed and easy to follow – even for a pair of non French speaking Australians.

From a little bar at the top of Rue Tholoze – good beer and great view

Montmartre rooftops

Path to Sacré Cœur

Montmatre backstreets

At the top of Montmatre near Sacré Cœur is the busy tourist area where artists crowd the square and sell their wares.

Two people trying to walk past a crepe shop.

Rooftops from Sacré Cœur

Our apartment has a beautiful old oak floor and staircase. when you walk into the building you can smell the linseed oil someone lovingly rubs into it.

From our apartment window we look down on one of the busiest bars in Montmatre. I’m sure Picasso and Henry Miller and Alfred Jarry all drank here. Every night sees dozens of people spilling out onto the streets.

Sacré Cœur

The Romans lay claim to the arch, but I think the French must have invented the spiral staircase. We have been up and down so many in the last few days – thankfully Sacré Cœur has a clockwise one going up and an anti clockwise one coming down.

Spectacular views of Paris from the dome of Sacré Cœur

At night Sacré Cœur is a pretty scary sight.

Not near as scary as this strange grave in the Montmatre Cemetry…

…or the walls of bones lining the catacombs under the streets of Paris

The French are right up there with the Italians when it comes to decorative ornamentation

All through Paris are statues, ornamental gates, arches and fences and everywhere you look, beautifully decorated buildings. This all forms a backdrop to some of the most spectacularly presented humans on earth. The whole decoration thing went haywire back in the 1700’s and the Palace of Versailles  is a grand example of decorative excess. Unfortunately it was all carried out with tax payers money, bleeding the country into poverty, so the tax payers revolted and chopped off all the offending heads.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles 

Chapel, Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles has amazing gardens covering 100’s of hectares. This is the view Louis XIV would have enjoyed as he sat to gaze out his window.

This would have been Louis’ bedroom – complete with everything except a flushing toilet

This room was used by Marie Antoinette when the disgruntled taxpayers came searching for her.

These elegant ladies in all their decorative finery were apparently riddled with nits and lice, had bad breath and didn’t smell too good, as it was believed at the time, that washing with water put germs into the pores of your skin causing nasty diseases.

This little abode was built to house the mistresses of the then rulers.

Busking with Tuba

How not to sell glasses