Part of a day trip to Paris included many sites to see so as part of a walking tour we also did Pigalle in order to see the famous Moulin Rouge! If you are familiar with Baz Lurhman's film of the same name it will give you a feel for the area.
After descending the steps from the Sacré Ceour and feeling cleansed from the sanctity of the site and the refreshing views to be had from the top of Montmartre, we walked down through a street bustling of what could only be described as on-street gamblers and tricksters who appeared to be quite happy to test the observation skills of the public and take their money but they were certainly not amused at having their pictures taken and the ‘heavy’ crew would step in to make sure you didn’t, so be aware or be very surreptitious with your ‘Lomoing’!
When you leave this street you have sort of reached the bottom of the hill and the incline has leveled out, from here you can turn right onto the Boulevard de Clichy and you are then on your way toward the Moulin Rouge. This area is known as Pigalle and once I would have said it was definitely for people over the age of 18, but these days it seems to be quite tame compared to what could be out there! Famous for its nightlife and probably most famous during the Belle Époque when artists such as Toulouse Lautrec would have frequented these quarters. I can’t comment on its nightlife as it was a day trip with kids! So we showed them the famous Moulin Rouge windmill which was about a five- to ten-minute gentle walk from Pigalle Metro.
Obviously if you want to look further into what is being offered then you can venture behind closed doors! The area was called Pigalle after the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle one of France’s most famous sculptors in the mid 18th century, his work can be seen in the Louvre but I have no real idea why this area is named after him.
The area doesn’t feel all that dodgy during the day, we crossed the road to the central reservation and walked along the tree lined path admiring the beautiful buildings on either side and being amused by the ‘interesting’ posters on phone boxes and tree trunks. We passed by the Metro Blanche and carried on walking. As we came toward our destination we could see a lot of people having a laugh and shrieking as their hair was blown vertically from their heads, they were standing on the vent from the Metro and they were having a ball! Needless to say our kids did the same! So a perfect Lomo moment was with the famous Moulin Rouge windmill in the background!
A lot of the buildings seemed to be decrepit and in fact, a few were just shells, only the facade was left standing, bolstered up by scaffolding on the back. It was sad to see them like this but then so typical of cities these days. The lack of structure and the lost grace was only reinforced by the selling of tourist tats, gift shops, and cheap clothing boutiques filled the bottom half of the buildings.
It is certainly worth a walk through if you are spending any time in Paris. Get a map and walk it, that way you get to see all the grittiness of the back streets and the more famous areas as well.