Atop Montmartre sits a rare jewel Sacré-Cœur. Despite it's grandeur, this white church feels miniature to me, as if it's an exquisite brooch decorating the highest point in Paris.
The streets of Montmartre, by contrast with the lightness of Basilica, are dense with color, crowds, art vendors, cafe umbrellas and smell of crepes...
I stumbled upon a two-story white building that once was a studio where Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Dali and others have worked at some point in the 19th century. I tried to imagine Montmartre back then: a quiet, desolate bohemian retreat. You don't see a soul, just hear remote footsteps, a glass shatters, laughter. And then...Eric Satie's melancholy piano sets in...
...Up until the day of the race, I couldn't imagine enjoying the event as much as I did.
During the last leg, cyclists make 9 rounds on Champs-Élysées, circling Arc de Triomphe, passing Rue de Rivoli (where I was "stationed".) And I was so thankful for those 9 rounds, because after 8 hours of anticipation, when first motorcycles of cortege appeared around the corner with roaring of the crowd, the Tour zooooomed by and was GONE in a blink of an eye! A few swooshes on the page...
Ahh...the cyclists were beautiful in their tension and speed. They looked like creatures made of mercury.
Similar to Olympic games of Ancient Greece, in honor of which wars between city-states were postponed for the duration of tournaments, Le Tour De France has an air of reconciliation. At least in my eyes. I tend to romanticize, but it's really a significant event-all cultures get involved. Turns out it was Revolutionary France that first emulated the ancient Olympics in late 19th century, for the first time since 426 AD. That event was called L'Olympiade de la République. Bravo, France!!
I am back from a 2-week trip to Paris with new experiences to share with you, in drawings.
The brightest event was, no doubt, the last leg of Tour De France! Friends and I got out early to claim our spots, as the crowds gathered to cheer for the race. It was empty on Rue De Rivoli at 7.30 am. By 1 pm, the street in front of the Louvre was a stampede. Colorful array of flags and languages from around the world shook the air. The race was expected to pass us about 4pm, so there was plenty of time to people-watch.
Strangers made acquaintances with whoever was standing next to them, clinking their giant beer glasses and waving their national flags. A lonely American flag, hanging from the hotel window, was drowned in the sea of Norwegian, British and Spanish colors. The statue of Jean of Arc right in the middle added just the right spirit.