May Day dawned gray and cold. All the museums and other attractions would be closed today, so I had decided we could use the holiday to visit Sacre Coeur, a beautiful basilica located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
Of course, I should have guessed something important from that "highest point in the city" moniker. Can YOU guess what it is? Heh.
The Métro dumped us at the foot of said highest point. It would be quite a climb through some interesting neighborhoods and narrow streets to make it up the hill.
It turned out that the streets and neighborhoods were the most interesting part. While the basilica is a beautiful building, there isn't much else to see here. It was a gray, cold day, so we couldn't even really enjoy the lovely grounds. Inside there was a mass in progress, and I didn't feel like intruding to see the interior.
We had walked up to the basilica to the east, missing an important find: the Montmartre Funicular! This is a railway tram that moves up and down the hill to Sacre Coeur. I could've used that earlier!
The other place we wanted to see today was the Salvador Dali Museum, just a short walk away. Consulting my map, I concluded the museum was somewhere at the bottom of the hill. We decided to take the funicular down instead of the steps.
Guess what. Once at the bottom, we soon discovered that -- the museum was back at the top! And of course, the line to ride the very slooooow funicular UP was extremely long. So I cursed my own stupidity at map-reading while we trudged the Steps of Doom.
After a little wandering, we finally found the Dali museum. It was a brief but fun stop, where we were able to see a good sampling of Dali's weird sculptures and paintings. Afterwards, we stopped for a bite of lunch at one of the many restaurants dotting the steep, winding streets.
We rode the funicular DOWN one more time. It owed us.
A final de-rigueur stop in this neighborhood was at the Moulin Rouge, the 125-year-old cabaret famous for the can-can. It still provides nightly dance entertainment for the tourists. During the day, all we could do was photograph the iconic red windmill on the roof, and even that wasn't easy due to the narrowness of the street.
Although it seemed we hadn't really done that much, I was pooped. I managed to find the nearby Métro stop without another steep climb, where I had to retreat to a plastic chair while waiting for a train. Phew.