2013 Oct: Running in Paris – Part 3 (Montmarte)

Here’s the 3rd (and last) installment of our Running-in-Paris runrep.

Some background to our Running-in-Paris. After DNSing the Reims 10K (see runrep #1), we decided to make the most of the Sunday morning by charting our own run along the famous Seine River. The 10KM run would start from the Eiffel Tower along the left banks of Seine, crossing over to the right banks at Pont Sully and ending in the Obelisque.

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When we were planning the above route, we also realized once we reach the Obelisque, the Montmarte is only 4 KM away (from A to B below). Too tempting not to continue the run up the hills of Montmarte, and pay a visit to the landmark Basilica of Sacre-Coeur.

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The above A->B was our initial charted route from the Obelisque to Montmarte. Our actual run took us on a slightly different route – slightly longer – thru the rue Saint-Lazare.

Warning: This post is very picture-heavy.

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The run from the Obelisque to the junction of rue Saint-Lazare was pretty uneventful, along narrow roads between buildings (above).

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Above: The KOOPLES, a popular department chain. I think this is their outlet in rue Boissy d‘Anglass. From here, we ran out to the touristee rue Saint-Lazares. Shops, cafes and restaurants everywhere.

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We ran past the Gare Saint-Lazare, one of the busiest railway stations in Paris. I think it’s as busy as the Gare du Nord.

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That’s the CAFE Marco Polo. This part of Paris is known as the Opera area.

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The La Trinité, a Roman Catholic church is not easy to miss with it’s distinctive tall bell tower topped with a dome.

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The Notre-dame de Lorette church signalled the end of our run along rue Saint-Lazare as we’ll turn off the main road here and run along rue des Martyrs (below) towards Montmarte.

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The rue des Martyrs is a narrow road that slopes upward towards the hills of Montmarte. There are cafes and restaurants scattered along the road so I suppose it can be a pleasant & enjoyable experience to take a nice stroll along this rue towards the hills.

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But running up this slope is another matter altogether. Then again, that’s why we chose to continue our run from the Obelisque into the Montmarte. The route along the river Seine is flat… it’s only here that we got to do an inclined run up this sloping road.Smile with tongue out

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Wifey taking on the slopes of Montmarte…. what we liked also are the beautiful cobblestones on the roads here.

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Saw this fella romping up the slopes of rue des Martyrs. Quite effortlessly I’ve to say. So I decided to pace follow him and see how long I can keep up with him.

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I followed him all the way till the end of the road and was doing around 5:30 min pace. Didn’t seem to be catching up on him so he’s easily hitting a 5:00 or so pace. Phew. He probably trains here regularly.

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Was breathless when I reached the end of the road (which is not yet the summit of Montmarte).

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Wifey posing for her customary shot!

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Beside the sloping road of rue des Martyrs, there are also two flights of stairs that you need to cover before getting to the summit of Montmarte.

The first set of stairs at rue Drevet (above). Huff huff… puff puff.

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The stairs at rue Drevert looking down. This is the same perspective that Robert de Niro was looking down at Cafe Blue Sky (below) in the movie Ronin.

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© 1998 Ronin http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122690/

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The 2nd set of stairs at rue du Calvaire led us into the Montmarte Village at the top of the hill. More huffing….

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waiyan ascending the stairs of Montmarte. Smile

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There’s a bustling art & cafe scene at the Montmarte Village. I’ll write more about our walk around the Montmarte Village in another blog entry but for now, let us continue onwards to the reason we ran up the hills of Montmarte – to visit the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, the Sacred Heart of Paris.

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Since we were all sweaty from our run – and likely smelly – we didn’t enter the church. We walked around the church area and immersed ourselves with the crowd. It felt great to know we ran all the way up to the highest point in Paris to visit this popular landmark!

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Here’s a view of the city of Paris from her highest point in Montmarte.

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© http://www.aparisguide.com

This is how the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur looks from a distance. Impressive, ain’t it?

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We lingered around the Montmarte area for a good 1-2 hour before deciding to make our trip down the hill back to our hotel Avia Saphir in Montparnesse which is about 6 km away.

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The run back (above) was pretty straightforward. We descended from Montmarte, following rue des Martyrs until we reach the Notre-dame de Lorette church (below).

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However instead of turning into rue Saint-Lazares, we cut straight across the street into rue Laffitte…

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….and it’s pretty much a straight run southwards heading towards the Louvre / Pont Royal area.

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It started raining before we can reach Pont Royal. Was drizzling at first…

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… then it became heavier when we reached the Louvre. Luckily we were in our hooded running vest so we could just continue running in the rain.

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When we crossed the river Seine, the sky did look worryingly dark! Seemed like a downpour was imminent.

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Shortly after crossing river Seine, it did pour cats & dogs. Goodness.. and they told us it’s nice to walk (or run) in the rain while in Paris! tsk tsk.

We waited a good 20+ minutes before it’s back to drizzling mode and we decided to continue our run back towards our hotel in Montparnesse.

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Whew… think we covered 20+ km in our Running in Paris gig. What initially started as a replacement run for missing the Reims 10K race extended from the Obelisque to Montmarte and then back to Montparnesse.

Read about the first two legs here:

Hope the Google Map route above can serve as a useful guide if you wish to do the same run as we did. It was really fun, and I’m happy to do the same run again if we are back in Paris!

In fact, we enjoyed this type of unstructured run (ie not encumbered by an official race route) so much we are thinking of doing the same in other cities we are visiting in future instead of merely signing up for a local race event.

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This was also a really special run for me since it’s one of the few runs where me & wifey ran together side-by-side for the entire route. In most road races, while me & wifey would start the race together, we usually run at our own pace and therefore finish in our own (different) time.

Nokia Here Map – True Offline Maps
The other call out I would like is props to Nokia’s true offline navigation maps that’s available on my Windows Lumia phone. Without the offline maps, we may have gotten lost trying to navigate our way thru the streets of Paris.

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The offline maps are downloaded into our phone storage and provide full GPS navigation ie they are not saved snapshots taken offline but true real-time navigation maps using the GPS in the phone (but without requiring internet connection). Every now and then, you can find me checking and re-checking our current position by GPS and re-calibrate the route towards our target destination be it Montmarte or back to our hotel in Montparnesse.

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MOULIN ROUGE
The observant readers may have noticed we were silent on Moulin Rouge. Given we spent a good deal of time running in Montmarte, surely we should have passed by or mention this place?

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(C) places2explore.wordpress.com

Truth is I completely forgot about diverting from our route on the way down from Montmarte to swing by Moulin Rouge! We realized this only when we reached back our hotel…

Face-palm!

Since we would be returning to Paris for a night (after we are done with our Essen Spiel trip), we thought we’ll do another Paris run, this time from Montparnesse to Montmarte, and include our tour of Moulin Rouge. Sadly that plan was ripped when we missed our train from Cologne to Paris, and ended up with another amazing overnight adventure taking buses and connecting trains thru Brussels back into Paris (but that’s another story for this blog).

Check out all the pictures related to this event in my Facebook album.

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