When we left the Panthéon, it was pouring rain, so we decided to head back to the apartment for an early evening nap with the hopes that the sky would clear up in time for a late night excursion with American friends who were taking a side trip to Paris while on vacation in Marseilles.
After getting some rest, and letting the delicious gnocchi from Café du Rendez-Vous digest, we met up with our friends at their apartment, which was only three metro stops away from our place. And from there, we took a walk through Montmartre. Or should I say UP Montmartre.
We began our ascent at Pigalle but didn't make it too far. It was already late and none of us had eaten dinner yet. Of course I don't know why I was even hungry because I had gorged myself at lunch. At any rate, we came across a little Italian restaurant and pizzeria on Rue Lepic called "La Rughetta" and decided to have dinner there. We got some great antipasti, and I ordered a huge bowl of carbonara and a cheap bottle of Lambrusco to wash it all down.
After eating and chatting, we worked off the calories by hiking uphill towards Sacre Coeur. The funiculaire was closed because it was late, so we climbed all 220 stairs on Rue Foyatier to get to the foot of the basilica. (That's slightly more than half the number of stairs to get to the towers of Notre Dame!) Good thing I carb loaded at La Rughetta, right?
The base of Sacre Coeur is an interesting place late at night. There was a car parked in front of the church blasting Eminem, and young people were scattered all over the steps. A group was gathered together playing music, another pair were drinking bottles of wine, most were just talking. In the few minutes we were there, a couple of kids tried to sell us bottles of Heineken. The atmosphere was bizarre and a bit different from the hoards of tourists that surround Sacre Coeur in the daytime.
The church was closed but we walked around it anyway. And the view of Paris from the basilica is wonderful. From the top of the steps you could see the light radiating from the beacon at the Eiffel Tower.
It was nearly midnight by the time we left Sacre Coeur. We walked back down the 220 steps -- downhill is so much easier -- then parted ways at the Pigalle Metro after laughing at the crazy sights we passed in the red light district.