The one thing (among many) that they don’t accurately portray in the movies is the crowds. Whenever they show the sunny streets or winding lanes of Paris, they are never populated by masses of tourists with selfies-sticks and backpacks.
We went to Montmartre today after we checked out of our Airbnb. Ah, Montmartre: the Paris neighborhood that is home to the Moulin Rouge (and the red-light district) and Amélie. Since we had only little time and large backpacks, we had to pick and choose what we were going to see. Zoe’s choice was Sacré-Cœur, the basilica at the top of the hill. We took the back steps up to the top and therefore were much surprised by the massive crowds we encountered in the front of the church. Right below us, was the plaza where Amélie gave back Nino his notebook full of torn photographs, but instead of being pleasant and spotted with a few milling couples and families, it was chilly and packed with people. Easy to see why, though. Both the basilica and the view were gorgeous.
We shuffled into the church behind packs of people and walked along the sidelines as a Sunday service commenced. Non-worshiping visitors were taking pictures and talking despite the large signs telling them not to. The small gift shop inside was also packed.
After we were back in the open air, I led us around, searching for the café Amélie “worked” at and using a picture of a map as my guide. Our route took us through the cobbled, winding streets of the movies. This time, they actually were sparsely populated and picturesque. (Every fiction has a root of truth.) We finally found the place through a bustling street. The café was also busy, but we were shown to a table quickly enough. The layout (save the cigarette counter which has been removed for more seating) was basically the same as in the movie. There were more tables and the décor had been updated, but it was still recognizably Amélie’s café. And if that wasn’t clear enough, there was a large signed picture of Améile hanging in the back and basically a shrine to the movie in the toilets.
The food was some of the best I’ve had in France. It might’ve been my love of the movie influencing my taste buds. I don’t know. But, one thing’s for sure, I will always remember that meal. I literally cleaned my plate.
After we left the café, we had more time to walk around before out train back, but Zoe and I both felt tired and didn’t feel like walking around with heavy packs on our backs, so we went early to the station and hung out until our train home.