Thursday, 10 January 2013

paris: sacré coeur & view

Lately I have been thinking about Paris (how surprising!), mainly for two reasons. On my coffee table is a black & white photography book by Henri Cartier-Bresson with pictures of Paris that I borrowed at the library. It's a joy to turn its pages. The other reason is a detailed email from a friend who spent New Year's in the city (picture me with a tray of sushi reading it and opening the links she included ... pure bliss).

The other day I was uploading some of my photos, as I felt the computer was working a bit slowly, and I realised that I still have some photos from my trip to Paris in October that I wanted to share on the blog. The Sacré Coeur and its surroundings in the Montmartre district in the north part of the city was our first stop. When we came walking up the stairs of Rue Maurice Utrillo (google map) we were greeted by the view you see in the top photo. I remember standing there in awe, taking it all in. The hill is truly beautiful and you have a view all over the city. We went inside to walk through the basilica and it was simply magnificent. The only thing that annoyed me were disrespectful tourists taking photos inside when it was clearly forbidden.

In the photos below you can see the view from the hill. The park below, called Square Louise Michel, is very charming. I have to say that I cannot stand that black tower building, the Tour Montparnasse, in the distance. I haven't read anything about it but I just cannot understand why it was built; planted there to ruin the beautiful view.

Personally, I find this area too touristy for my taste (friends have told me to go there very early on a Sunday or any other day to really enjoy it). It was fairly crowded outside the church and when we reached the Place Saint-Pierre street next to the park below there were annoying salespeople trying to catch our attention. It was the only place in Paris where I had a negative and touristy experience and felt myself wanting to get out of there.

By the way, if you ever find yourself walking down the hill please stay away from a street called Rue de Steinkerque. It's probably the ugliest street in the whole city, nothing but tacky tourist shops.

The book I mentioned above is called Propos de Paris (Paris à vue d'oeil in French) by Henri Cartier-Bresson. It contains 131 photos in black & white. I love the one of the nuns in front of the Sacré Coeur in the photo above. The book also contains this famous photo of a couple kissing at a café.

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt
Paris photos taken in October 2012


  1. beautiful. I miss Paris!

  2. How magnificent it looks in that top photo. I wish I was browsing that book right now.

  3. Happy New Year, Lisa! I think today is Paris day as I am also wandering (in my mind, of course) on its streets. I know that this part of Paris is always full of tourists, but the idea that a lot of artists have been chatting in those cafes make me want to go there over and over again. I was reading in "The Paris Wife" that Ernest Hemingway had a little room in the area and he was also working in those cafes. I did not know about this picture of Bresson, but it is lovely, indeed.

  4. Dear Lisa,
    thank you for reminding me on Paris. Even when the weather is cloudy its a beautiful city!

    I've met my sister and niece (living in Montreal, Canada) in Paris last August... sigh.
    One viewpoint is very similar to yours... if you wanna have a look:

    x Ariane.

  5. Happy New Year Lisa!! Wishing you much happiness and travel for 2013! I love your second photo, that view is just beautiful x

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed my desktop tour of Paris with my afternoon cup of coffee. Contemplating just how hard it would be to hop on the Eurostar on my way home and enjoy the evening there… oh but a girl can dream!

  7. Beautiful photos, Lisa. It made me yearn to look thru my Paris photos too! I definitely agree with you on that black tower ruining the lovely view. Have a fabulous week! xxoo

  8. It sounds like you are desiring another trip there soon!
    One never does get quite enough of beautiful Paris!!

    We have the horrible flu, these photos are good medicine!


  9. Hi Lisa, Hmm, yes, somehow I felt that you hadn't shared all of your Paris images yet. :) These are lovely and what fun to compare the location to Cartier-Bresson's image taken there.

    I have to agree with you about Montmartre. I dragged D away from there due to the huge crowds and tacky atmosphere. And I've seen petitions to tear down the Montparnasse Tower. It is atrocious!

    Wishing you a most wonderful year ahead, my friend!


  10. Happy New Year Lisa! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a positive start to 2013. I hope we get to meet this year!

    Unfortunately, you're right: the Sacré-Cœur area is decidedly dodgy. Go before 09h00 to experience the wonderful views, serene cobblestone streets and the charm of the church without the hoards of tourists, illegal sellers and generally ugliness.

    I'm heading back to Paris in March and cannot wait!


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