There’s something incredibly alluring about Montmartre. I don’t know what it is, but it makes me want to walk up and down the steps and cobbled streets until the sun goes down (or at least until 3pm when I have to get home to collect the children from school). Perhaps it’s the fact that around every corner is a different view over Paris, an art gallery displaying their work on the balcony, or the Sacre Coeur peeping from behind yet another elaborately built block of apartments covered in the most artistic graffiti I think I’ve ever seen.
Anyway – today I went back to Montmartre, in the 18th Arr. of Paris, to meet up with a couple of girls for lunch and to improve my ‘local’ knowledge of the area. I walked around for an hour before we met and believe I have now located a reasonably priced creperie, sandwich shop and boulangerie for future visits, as well as this souvenir shop aptly named ‘Montmartre Je t’aime’. They sell all sorts of kitchen related things covered in the French language. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know that this is pretty much my dream shop. Consequently, I now own a new cake slice and a mug.
But back to my newly acquired local knowledge. Just by the Abbesses metro station I found that there’s a lovely little garden dedicated to a man named Jehan Rictus – a poet who lived in the area. On one of the walls is an enormous mural covered in handwritten ‘I Love You’s – in no less than 311 different languages. The English one is just to the top right of the photo. Very sweet.
For lunch we went to an adorable boulangerie-come-cafe named ‘Coquelicot’ (poppy flower) on the Rue des Abbesses. I’d found the place online earlier and wasn’t disappointed by it’s French-ness. If anything, Amelie would’ve looked more at home here amongst the brightly coloured menus, waitresses and cakes than at the infamous ‘Cafe des 2 Moulins’ down the road.
And the menu was very reasonably priced too. We all decided to have a croque monsieur (€4.20) and I was pleasantly surprised by what appeared in front of me alongside my ‘Cafe Creme’. This wasn’t your usual cheese toastie. This was a croque monsieur made using actual baguette bread and at least two different types of cheese. Plus wait until you see the patisserie just inside the shop… this photo does not do it justice. There were cakes, tarts, croissants, millefeuilles, eclairs – and macaroons. Macaroons, to me, look a bit strange. They look a bit artificial and a bit like meringue filled with cream. I don’t like meringue. Or cream. But this may be one of those odd occasions when I am completely wrong. I bought myself 3 miniature cakes at 75c each – a heart shaped brownie, a tarte au citron and a raspberry macaroon. Without going into too much detail, I am now completely converted. The next step is to try and make them myself! Or at least return to this delightful cafe to sample some of the other flavours first. It’d be wrong not to…