A Slice of Art History In Paris

by Todd Gibson

To really get a taste of a place, you need to go local. Checking out the tourist traps does not give you much of an authentic experience. In Paris, this means checking out the various little enclaves throughout the city.

As an amazing contrast to the area beneath it, the white Sacre Coeur Basilica sits atop Montmartre as a cherry sits upon a sinfully delicious dessert. Home to everything that has stereotyped Paris over the years, this section of the city is not to be skipped over.

Okay, you have to see Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Once you are done with your tourist duties, why not slip into something a bit more realistic? Montmartre is it with a combination of the very old and new.

Montmartre has a little of everything. This was the rough area where many artists put their best works together and where the Moulin Rouge earned its infamous identity. There are street acts and street scenes galore.

As often happens with places where famous people once where, Montmartre has a lively collection of businesses trying to sell the past. Junk memorializing van Gogh, Monet and Picasso are to be found everywhere you turn. Ignore it.

Some say that the section called Montmartre is perfect until you exit the famous hill. Others say that the true part of Paris cannot be seen unless you descend from the mountain. No matter what is said individually, there is a collective scream around the globe that adores this Parisian culture clash.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the mimes and what have you. Ignore them. Take a moment off to the side to realize you are walking through history. Look around and take in the home where a poor Picasso painted a masterpiece or two.

This is an area that is so powerful, you cannot help but feel the neighborhood soak into your clothes. The smell definitely might! Do not mistakenly attend the Moulin Rouge and think that is all there is. The entire area is the attraction.

Life is unfortunately often about routines and the same old thing day in and day out. Montmartre is anything but this. The place is dirty, over the top and so full of culture and characters, you will just be smiling and shaking your head. Welcome to Paris!

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