Paris – Day 6 – Père Lachaise Cemetery, Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur

May 30, 2019 (Last Updated: July 1, 2020)
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a carousel at the bottom of a hill with Sacre Coeur Basilica at the top

It’s our last full day in Paris, and we have planned some adventures in some of the outskirts of the city, but first we’re checking out Marché Maubert, a small farmers’ market set up 3 days a week directly by the Maubert Mutualite metro and our favorite little pastry shop, La Maison d’Isabelle.

scallops in their shells, and other seafood at a farmer\'s market
A display of fresh produce at a farmer\'s market

After perusing the stalls, we purchased a couple pastries for a sweet start to the day. This apricot pistachio pastry was one of my favorites from the week. It’s slightly sticky from the apricot preserves and not super sweet. It has a mild pistachio flavor with additional crunch complementing the super flaky exterior.

A close up of a spiral shaped pastry

Eighteen years ago when I first visited Paris with my family, my sister and I were on a mission to visit The Doors frontman Jim Morrison’s grave, so we headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery, the most famous and most visited cemetery in the world with 3.5 million annual visitors. At the time, we made a beeline directly for Jim’s grave, but were so awe-struck by the sheer beauty and intrigue of this historic cemetery that we decided we’d come back someday and spend additional time here, visiting more of the famous graves.

a shadowy pathway through trees in a cemetery
a tree-covered walkway through a cemetery
a tree-lined walkway in a cemetery

I have a pretty morbid personality, so for me it definitely wasn’t strange spending nearly 2 hours exploring a cemetery, and we certainly weren’t the only ones targeting various famous graves throughout the 110 acre burial site. Some notable graves we visited include Honoré de Balzac, Georges Bizet, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, Molière, Oscar Wilde, Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, and Jim Morrison.

Georges Bizet\'s grave
Honore de Balzac\'s grave
Oscar Wilde\'s grave
a monument in a cemetery
a large monument in a cemetery
a monumental grave with an Armenian flag in a cemetery
Edith Piaf\'s grave
A closeup of Parmentier\'s grave with potatoes on it
This man is why we eat potatoes! He was an advocate for potatoes as a food source, among other things.
a grave surrounded by plants
His grave is surrounded by potato plants…
closeup of a gravestone
And there are potatoes depicted on his gravestone
Moliere\'s grave
Chopin\'s grave surrounded by flowers
Jim Morrison\'s grave covered with flowers
a closeup of Jim Morrison\'s gravestone
We’ve come full circle… love you, Jim!

After paying our respects to some of our beloved deceased writers and musicians, and a scientist/promoter of the humble potato as a food source (thank you Parmentier!), we hit the Metro and made our way over to Montmartre, the bohemian neighborhood atop a hill once home to famous artists including Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edouard Manet. It was also home to Dalida, a French vocalist and actress who lived in the neighborhood for many years, and later took her own life in 1987. We visited Place Dalida, a square in a quiet corner of Montmartre where a bust of the late performer now stands. Her former home is also a short walk from here.

a woman posing with a statue of Dalida
Mom with the Dalida statue
a quiet cobblestone Parisian street
Place Dalida
A sign on the side of a building
a white and brick residential building
Dalida’s former home

Both today’s lunch and dinner were top notch, and easily some of our favorite meals of the entire trip! La Boîte aux Lettres, which translates to “the mailbox,” is in such a charming location with a wonderful, helpful, and good-looking staff (bonus!). The small dining room is filled with books and closely clustered tables with an open-ish kitchen. I made a reservation but it didn’t seem necessary for lunchtime, at least on this particular day.

the interior of a small Parisian restaurant
the interior of a cozy restaurant with chalkboard menus

I absolutely love that they have magnets under the table to hold the silverware down! What a cool idea!

a fork and knife on a red paper napkin

We both opted for the “lunch formula” of an appetizer and main dish. We started with the “For the Undecided,” a sampler of soup, salad, and pork pâté. The green pea soup was excellent, with a tiny dollop of crème fraîche to garnish and tiny fresh peas suspended within. The salad was also lovely, a combination of arugula, fresh mozzarella, and fresh and dried tomatoes all dressed with balsamic (it was supposed to also have shaved Parmesan but that seemed to be missing). The pâté was delightful, served with a small bit of caramelized onions and a cornichon. The fresh sliced baguette served on the side was perfect with this. We enjoyed our meal with a 1/4 bottle of Chardonnay from Burgundy. It was crisp and light, and nicely complimented our meal.

soup, salad, and pate served on a wooden board

Mom’s pollack with eggplant caviar and sautéed veggies was a winning dish! It was perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth tender!

fish fillet with vegetables in a wide white bowl

My croque madame was perfection, one of the best versions I’ve ever had. A single slice of bread with ham and gruyére, it wasn’t too heavy, and featured an insanely crispy bread and a perfectly fried egg. Swoon! The fries and salad were good too, adding a fresh element to a heavy dish. I would absolutely hands down return here on any future trip to Paris! Try and stop me!

a croque madame sandwich with fries and salad on a black surface
A close up of a croque madame sandwich with a few pieces cut off

After a small interlude at Place du Tertre, a “hillock” filled with cafés, artists, and souvenirs galore, we continued onward to Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre.

a bustling Parisian square filled with artists and tourists
A group of people standing in front of Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris

Inside the church, silence is the golden rule. Signs say no photos but no one seems to enforce that.

church altar under a large dome
interior of a church with religious paintings

Mom stayed behind while I made the trek up to the Dome. For €7 I gained access to the 300 steps to the top (warning, there is no elevator!). Unlike the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, there is no opening in the middle of the spiral staircase for you to see how much further you need to go to reach the top, only a few tiny windows along the way. There are no handrails most of the way up and down the worn stone steps; it’s truly a claustrophobic’s nightmare. The epic views at the top were definitely worth it, but unlike my trip to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, one time up to the Dome might be enough for me. I spent about 35 minutes total going to purchase my ticket, climbing to the top, and eventually returning back to the church to collect mom (and catch my breath).

A sign on the side of a building
a sign with prices on it
stone roof of a church
narrow exterior walkway with steps
There are still plenty more stairs after exiting the enclosed spiral staircase…
interior of a church dome with windows looking out
Inside the Dome is heavily graffitied
view of Paris from up above
view of Montmartre in Paris from church dome
wide panoramic view of Paris from hilltop
a gargoyle with Paris in the distance

We headed down the hill towards the carousel, a much easier path than climbing UP that same hill to reach the church (although there is a funicular available).

view of Sacre Coeur from the bottom of a hill

Winding down our visit to Montmartre, we still had a few final stops including Abbesses, the deepest station in the Paris Métro, at 118 feet below ground. It was featured in Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, and has one of only two remaining glass-covered “dragonfly” art deco entrances, known as édicules, designed by architect Hector Guimard.

a woman standing in front of an ornate Parisian metro sign

Nearby we also checked out the Wall of Love in the Jehan Rictus garden, on which the phrase “I love you” is written in 250 languages, Au Marché de la Butte, the market featured in Amelie with the title character’s blue door around the corner, and Le Bateau-Lavoir, a shared studio and former dwelling of famous artists including Picasso and Matisse.

groups of people standing in front of a blue wall with writing
a corner grocery market with red awning
exterior of a small grocery market
a white building that says \"Le Bateau Lavoir\" in front of it

We headed back to our hotel in the Latin Quarter for a bit of a break before a late dinner at Le Petit Châtelet, located directly next to Shakespeare and Company, and across the Seine from Notre Dame.

exterior of a quaint restaurant with striped awning and tables outside
view of Notre Dame Cathedral through some trees
The view

A wood-burning oven (which is not just for aesthetics, they actually cook food in there!) sits in one corner of the tiny dining room. Of all the restaurants where we dined this past week, the tables here are the closest together–they are literally touching, and the staff needs to pull each table out completely so someone can sit on the booth side. Cozy would be a word to describe the ambiance, between the fire, proximity to your neighbors, and warmth of service. Upstairs is another small dining room, in addition to the bathrooms.

A fire place in a small cozy restaurant dining room
reflection of restaurant interior in a large mirror
a chalkboard menu written in French
a restaurant menu

As was the case with our incredible lunch earlier in Montmartre, the food at Le Petit Châtelet is outstanding! Mom and I shared an appetizer of mushrooms with garlic, which were super garlicky and simply fabulous. We also enjoyed some of the house rosé wine with our meal.

a plate of sauteed mushrooms with garlic
a small glass carafe of rose wine

My sea bass and scallops were incredible. Both the fish and scallops were perfectly cooked, with a melange of vegetables beneath including zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, leeks and more. The cream sauce must have been made with magic cream because it seriously didn’t taste heavy at all. I practically licked my plate clean.

a fish fillet with scallops and vegetables with a white sauce

Mom’s chicken was the last one of the night and absolutely excellent. The perfectly cooked statler chicken breast was pre-sliced by the kitchen staff, and served with a crazy flavorful jus, nicely seasoned with a deep, meaty flavor. It was accompanied by a beautifully prepared rice. Together it was simply magic.

sliced chicken breast with rice on a brown plate

Since it was our last night in Paris, we went all out and ordered dessert as well. The profiteroles were excellent, filled with beautiful vanilla bean ice cream. Supremely delicious!

profiteroles filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce on a white plate

Sunset had been on the later side during our visit, around 9:20 pm each evening, and we were never super close to the Eiffel Tower around this time to see the light show. Although we had experienced the tower lit up and sparkling on previous visits, it’s just not a trip to Paris without it, so we headed over to Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, and walking distance from the restaurant and our hotel.

view from a river bridge at sunset

Here we had a minimally obstructed view of the Eiffel Tower as well as the beautiful sunset in the distance. This made for an even prettier sight!

the Eiffel Tower in the distance lit up at night
nighttime view of the River Seine and Eiffel Tower in the distance

Tomorrow we are heading back home, but still have half a day to enjoy Paris before leaving. Stay tuned for our final hours in Paris in tomorrow’s post.

Paris – May 2019

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