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Tuesday was a bit brighter so we set off to see the view from the base of Sacré-Coeur, the white-domed church on the top of Montmartre. Rue Montmartre starts near my place, at the foot of Saint Eustache, so we followed it through the faubourg, then took rue des Martyrs and many flights of stairs up to the top. The view was panoramic but too hazy for my postcard aesthetic.

We both found the tourist crush around Sacré-Coeur off-putting, but we enjoyed the much calmer and much older St-Pierre-de-Montmartre that shares the summit.

Peaceful alcove in St-Pierre-de-Montmartre

Peaceful alcove in St-Pierre-de-Montmartre

We had a late lunch at Chez Ginette, a modest but pleasant restaurant just above the Lamarck-Caulaincourt métro station. The food was fine and the view was unbeatable. After eating we strolled over to posh Parc Monceau. It was later than I usually see the park and there was a steady stream of joggers. We read our books for a while, trying not to let ourselves be distracted by the passing parade.

Gilded entrance to post Parc Monceau

Gilded entrance to posh Parc Monceau

Then we headed over to the Arc de Triomphe. I made the classic error of mistaking the métro entrance for the underpass beneath the traffic mayhem of the Étoile, but after a brief diversion we found the correct entrance and explored the base of the monument.

Tricolor flying beneath the Arc de Triomphe

Tricolor flying beneath the Arc de Triomphe

We had passed an attractive restaurant on our way up to the Arc de Triomphe so we backtracked a couple of blocks and had a good meal at Le Beaucour, in one of the posher neighborhoods of Paris.

Sherard enjoying his café gourmand a few blocks from the tourist crush around the Arc de Triomphe

Sherard enjoying his café gourmand a few blocks from the tourist crush around the Arc de Triomphe

After regrouping at home we started our evening with cocktails at Experimental Cocktail Club — where I’m becoming a regular — then beers at our neighborhood bar Hoppy, then a special birthday visit to a gay bar that I had avoided all these years: Le Depot. Sherard had enjoyed the upstairs bar at Total Beur the previous Friday, but on Tuesday only the downstairs was open. It was just as sketchy as my friends had said! The physical space was clean enough but the few other patrons had a zombie quality that we put down to a single-minded obsession about hooking up. After finishing our beers we fled, sadder but wiser!

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