Friday, December 11, 2015
French Friday: Place du Tertre
We first toured Sacre-Coeur on the top of the hill. Then we made our way through the small winding streets of Montmartre to the square in the center of the village. Artists with their easels lined its perimeter, some offering to paint portraits or caricatures, others showcasing their original art of iconic Parisian sights.
While many consider this spot the heart of tourism, I see a Paris of yesteryear. Struggling artists often made Montmartre their home. Painters like Degas and Cassatt in the late nineteenth century, and artists like Picasso and Dali during the early twentieth century.
Today, small cafes surround the square, where many visitors accept their offer of a nice place to sit, sip a coffee, and people-watch. Once again, I imagine the Impressionists (and post-Impressionists) ending the day sipping an espresso with one another, discussing the nuances of light, the blending of colors, the beauty of art.
But in 2006 I vowed one year I would return to Paris, and I would live in Montmartre. That dream became a reality just five years later.
I rented a one-bedroom apartment for two solid weeks. My goal was to live like a Parisian. I brushed up on my French before I left, and I tried to speak the native language as often as possible.
I became familiar with the local boulangerie (bread store), the local wine merchant, and a stand-alone kiosk that sold the best roasted chicken I have ever tasted.
While I would venture to the "city" each day, I always looked forward to returning home - to my village. The pace is a little less hectic, the neighborhood a little more intimate, and the vibe a little more casual. Yes, Montmartre will always be my Parisian home away from home.