Last year, when in Paris, we stayed in an apartment in Rue Lepic in Montmartre. Just across the road was a windmill called Moulin de la Galette.
It turned out this was quite an historic and well known windmill (maybe not quite as well known as the one at the foot of the hill…Le Moulin Rouge) and had been the inspiration for paintings by such artists as Van Gogh (although I’ve just discovered that Van Gogh actually lived in Rue Lepic …at number 54, I stayed in Number 82) and Gustav Renoir’s famous painting Le Bal Du Moulin De La Galette
Now it’s a restaurant . I can’t vouch for it as we didn’t dine there… maybe the next stay in a few weeks time (subtle hint to Peter) but back to history. I couldn’t find out much about the windmill over the internet but I learnt that originally there were 14 mills which made up “Les Moulins de la Galette” and now there are just two. This one was built in 1622 as a wheat mill. In 1924 it was moved from its original site a bit further up the hill to its current situation at the corner of Girardon and Lepic Streets.. It made a picturesque outlook from my apartment window.
Montmartre has to be one of my favourite places in Paris. On a recent trip I had an afternoon on my own as Peter, my partner, had to work, so I went for a wander around Montmartre. The crowds in the Place du Tertre put me off dwelling for too long in the tourist centre but I spent a most enjoyable afternoon exploring the area’s narrow, cobbled streets. Away from the central hub, the crowds thinned and there was little or no traffic. Montmartre is compact so you can roam without getting seriously lost. Best of all, I stumbled on a quirky delight around every corner to excite the photographer in me.
In Place Marcel Aymé, located just off Rue Norvins, I found one such quirk – a man walking through a wall.
This is the 1989 creation of actor, director and sculptor, Jean Marais. The sculpture is based on a story written in 1943 by Marcel Aymé (yes, the little square where the statue is located is named after the writer) about a man called Dutilleul who suddenly discovers he can walk through walls. Notice how his hand is all shiny from people touching it…for luck or were they trying to pull him out of the wall?
Apparently there’s also a movie “Le Passe-Muraille” (marketed as Mr Peek-a-Boo in English) based on this story…one to add to my “must watch” list.
My love affair with France began aged 13 when my dad took my brothers and I camping in Brittany. After much pressure and cajoling he agreed to take us to Paris…ok he loved Paris too so I probably didn’t have to push him too hard, but I fell in love with France on that trip.
Deb aged 13 on first trip to Paris
A few years later I got the opportunity to spend a year in Paris soaking up the culture. I was also lucky enough to spend time in Deauville in Normandy, Evian-les-Bains in the Haute Savoie and Cap d’Agde thanks to my parents also loving France enough to spend a couple of years there.
Later in life, married (to another francophile) with kids and living in the south east of England inevitably our holidays were spent in gites in Brittany. Then in between holidays we’d travel over to Boulogne-sur-Mer for lunch and our French fix.
But then we relocated to Western Australia and my French travel came to a halt. Going to Europe was too expensive. When my marriage broke down 6 years later things got even tighter financially. But I never gave up on my long time daydream that one day I would have my own cottage in France where I would sit and write and soak up the atmosphere.
So when I met Peter and he said, totally out of the blue, that one of his goals was to buy a house in France within the next few years, I knew he was the man for me.
That was Dec 2011…we haven’t got the house yet but we’ve had a few trips to France. A French property is definitely high on the agenda.
Watch this space …
I’m back in Paris after a thirty-three year absence. Gulp! Has it really been that long? Sadly the weather hasn’t thrown out a welcome mat as it’s pouring with rain and the queue for a taxi at the Gard du Nord is about 200 metres long. But, despite the nearly twenty four hour journey from Australia, I’m happy to be back.
Posters in Montmartre (c) D Bennetto
Now to rekindle my love affair with the City of Romance …