Morning and early afternoon involved a late breakfast (as usual), some walking about (ibid), and a marathon tour of BHV, Paris’ everything-for-everyone department store. You can buy furniture, paint, art supplies, clothes, books, and hardware all in the same store. (I actually forgot to visit the basement for the hardware section. Pity.) We ended up with several cheap fountain pens (they make kids’ fountain pens, how cool is that?), a stack of French pop CDs (et al), some tea, some fancy ingredients from the kitchen section, and probably some other stuff I forgot. After four floors of commerce, we were too worn out to “finish” the store, so we had to save floors 4-6 for a later day. (And I guess floor -1 for another trip.) I’m leaving out the off-site portions, like BHV men’s, bike, and pet stores across the street from the entire-city-block main store.

Riding for the day involved heading to the top of Montmartre, best known for being the big hill with Sacre Coeur church on top of it. As on all of my Paris rides longer than 2 km, I got lost several times on the way there but eventually made it. After a fairly serious hill, I decided it was time for a break and had a couple beers in front of a small bar. (2012 note: further research shows I was at Le Petit Café de Montmartre — “the little cafe of Montmartre.”) I could probably spend an entire day just watching cars and scooters and cyclists go by, but I managed to peel myself from my chair and walk for a bit.

Bar on Montmartre

I returned to the bike and finished the climb to the top. Not sure if the police officer was staring because he thought I was stupid to ride that bike up that hill, or if he was just making sure I had a headlight and bell. Not being one for church tours, I looked at the outside of Sacre Coeur, managed a photo of a just-married couple (or perhaps a wedding dress model and groom stand-in?). The ride down was bumpy at first, but when I got to modern pavement it was great fun. I swear I didn’t have to pedal for at least three miles.

Behind Sacre Coeur

Apparently I was in the mood for hills, since from here I headed (indirectly, since I kept going off-route) to Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which my guide book claimed to be the least touristy park in the city. I’d been kicked out of it once already (bicycles not allowed) but figured I’d go back and walk around. A city park with views like this, trails both steep and level, and a waterfall is quite a thing. It’s nowhere near the size of Central Park in Manhattan, but it covers a huge array of geography in the space it’s got. (2012 note: This photo has been the desktop image on my daily-use computer for three years.)

Parc des Buttes Chaumont