Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Watching a Storm from Montmartre

The fact is: it rains more in Paris than in the Limousin's pastures. September was marked by sunny skies and warm temperatures. How could I conveniently forget this fact? (Must be truly blinded by my intoxication for Paris.) It's drizzle-washed, a city of rain. But even so, the light is mesmerizing during a storm or rain shower.

We headed up to Sacré-Coeur just in time to see a storm roll in across the city--even more dramatic than the basilica's strange design. When lit by sunlight, Sacre-Coeur may appear like a "sculpted cloud," but under a grey sky, the storm takes center stage.

Get off at Abbesses. Huff and puff up the stairs (Montmartre is a hill after all!) and emerge into the picturesque square, marveling at the entrance to the metro station (one of the originals). If you choose to wander through the quartier's twisting alleys, avoiding the funicular and taking the back way up the hill, you'll have the distinct sense that Montmartre is a village. The bohemians may be long gone (replaced by hordes of tourists), but it's still charming.

The views from the top of Sacré-Coeur can only be rivaled by those at Belleville's park (which is perched on a hill 200 meters above sea level). Paris is spread out at your feet, an astonishing panorama. Even more so when you can watch the line of rain move across the city.

PS. Yes, it's pouring in Limoges this morning. The neighbor's cats are taking refuge on the window ledge.


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