With it’s cobbled streets Monmartre conjures images of the Moulin Rouge, Pigalle, sex shops, windmills, theatres, the Sacre Coeur, artists, writers and bohemia. Rue Ordener is none of these things. Instead, you’ll find an unassuming, quiet little street tucked away from the tourist trail, stretching along the 18th arrondissement of Montmartre.
I’ve been visiting this street for the past twenty years, ever since the Eurostar began whizzing between London and Paris. It has been so long, it now feels like home. Each time, I’ve wistfully wondered, “What would it be like to live here?”
My internal GPS is stuck
It doesn’t matter where I’ve stayed; La Defense, Gare du Nord, Opéra, left bank, right bank, Latin Quarter, I’ve always found my way back to Rue Ordener wishing that that’s where I’d laid my hat in the first place. My internal GPS is inexplicably set for this street.
An internal landscape born in Yorkshire but set in Paris
There is a quote from Josephine Hart’s novel, Damage, that perfectly describes how I feel about Rue Ordener. “There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home.” I may have been born in Yorkshire, but my soul feels at home in this very ordinary Parisienne street.
With it’s twice weekly street market, street cafés, small independent shops and boulangeries life on Rue Ordener pootles along at a leisurely pace. Blink and you’d miss it, there are no attractions here. No glitz. No glamour. No haute couture.
Walk down Rue Ordener and the basillica of the Sacré Coeur bashfully reveals itself every now and again through the architectural gaps spiralling off towards the butté. Rue Ordener is the music that is made by the spaces between the notes of those buildings. An everyday version of Montmartre, populated by real people going about their lives.
Mountain of the Martyrs
To get to the Sacred Heart, you have to yomp along cobbled streets, up several flights of Montmartre steps for a good fifteen minutes before you can stand on the top of the hill, catch your breath and look out over Paris. There’s a reason it’s called ‘mountain of the martyrs’ you’ll feel like one after all of those steps. It’s that ethereal white dome that will be the view from my window come July.
I’ve visited with friends and family over the years but I’ve never lived there. From July Rue Ordener will be home, at least for a while. I plan to run, ok, walk, up those steps everyday. To drink café noir in my local, Le Nord Sud (see photo) and to finally discover, exactly what it’s like to live there. Come and join me.