November 19. Day Three in our Paris Extension of our Viking Cruises’ Cities of Light tour
First taxi stop at the LA MAISON MAILLE PARIS
In the center of Paris, Place de la Madeleine, sits a beautiful Maille boutique. Here, hundreds of bottles and dozens of beguiling mustards scale the walls with distinctive, complex and audacious flavors to satisfy even the most demanding taste buds. The Maille Mustard Sommelier offers you to taste.
Taking pride of place is a row of gleaming, ingeniously engineered pumps. For it’s here, drawn by hand, that your selection of condiment is freshly filled into earthenware pots and carefully sealed with cork stoppers.
Ken took the photo while Debra and I tasted our fill of mustards. Many too audacious for me. I settled on a honey mustard though I did like the two complex but pricey autumn selections: something in chestnuts and I can’t remember the other. Limitations in luggage space restrained my purchases.
Next stop Sacre Coeur Basilica. Also well guarded with uniformed and armed soldiers. Phenomenal views of the city. Mass in session. Two gift shops open during service. Small chapels surrounded the main sanctuary. A huge building, took decades to build, starting in the late 1800s. Priest prayed in French, English and Arabic.
Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. It is 130 metres high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Right Bank in the northern section of the city. The historic district established by the City of Paris in 1995 is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north; rue de Clignancourt on the east; boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart to the south, containing sixty hectares. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, during the Belle Époque, many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh.
Then on to the artists colony Montmartre (and where the French cancan started), up the street from the Basilica. Raining lightly on us as we left the mustard shop and continued throughout the day. Had a salad to dessert meal off the artist’s square at an old restaurant cafe La Boheme. Walked down to the Montmartre museum, Musée de Montmartre, in the house where the painter Maurice Utrillo lived and worked in a second-floor studio. The museum seemed to focus more on his mother, Suzanne Valadon (born Marie-Clémentine Valadon), an eighteen-year-old artist’s model.
Valadon, who became a model after a fall from a trapeze ended her chosen career as a circus acrobat, found that posing for Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others provided her with an opportunity to study their techniques; in some cases, she also became their mistress. She taught herself to paint, and when Toulouse-Lautrec introduced her to Edgar Degas, he became her mentor. Eventually she became a peer of the artists she had posed for.
The museum had an audio guided tour through gardens and several buildings that featured paintings and the artist’s workshop. Stunning views all around including a vineyard.
Tuckered out, we took a taxi back to the hotel and talked to our program director. It’s been raining in Germany so the water levels are good again, so we’ll be staying on the same ship throughout the cruise. Good news as we’d come very close to having to repack our bags midway through the cruise, then bused to another longship where we’d continue the cruise.
We dropped off packages in our rooms then back outside. We stopped at a cheese shop where I bought a thick slice of comti cheese and the others bought Beaujolais wine. Then to the sandwich shop from our first night for dessert which we took back to the hotel and our respective rooms.
Finished the day again with a long soak in the tub, a nap, and now reliving the day!