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 I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night…

Says Marion Cotillard, while descending Montmartre’s stairway on Rue de Chevalier de la Barre, in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris”.

And we understand her quite well. As neither can we.

Still, for all we know, The Stairway on Rue de Chevalier de la Barre is a good place to be both at dusk and at dawn.

The stairway on Rue du Chevalier de la Barre

This little stairway connects Rue Lamarck and the Sacré Coeur Basilica, while winding round a discrete park with waterfalls just on top, where peace reigns as people are doing tai chi.

The crossing between Rue Lamarck and Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, as seen from the stairway

Other than being a must-see spot for all sight-seeking movie-scene collectors (as already mentioned, a scene from “Midnight in Paris” was shot there), the stairway impresses keen photographers alike, as it offers a great perspective of the Sacré Coeur, perched right above it.

That type of setting has frequently tempted French lensmen like Robert Doisneau or René Jacques, known for their symptomatic black-and-white Montmartre’s photographic impressions.

Robert Doisneau, The Stairways of Montmartre, 1958

Rene Jacques, A Stairway in Montmartre, 1950

But the Stairway’s most fascinating secret comes to light after dark.

Each evening, as night falls, the stairway gets illuminated by hundreds of blue and white stars (little lights), engraved in the slope of the hill.  In the dark, the paved slopes flanking the stairway transform it into a mirror of the starry night sky. The left side represents the star constellations seen in the Parisian sky on January 1st. The right side portrays the position of the stars, as seen on July 1st.

The creator who came up with the idea of this “path of light” – the cinematographer and Montmartrois Henri Alekan – did not choose the location by accident.  

Monsieur Henri Alekan, creator of the starry stairway

“When you look at the Rue du Chevalier de la Barre from below, you see the starry slopes, inclined at thirty degrees. Your gaze is then inevitably brought up. You take in the dome of The Sacré Coeur, and, ultimately, your eyes reach the sky. Then they slowly ebb back to the ground and to the stairway, which in turn, becomes heaven.”

This urban version of the Milky Way is a real feast for the eye.

Don’t miss your chance to walk “between heaven and sky” during one of the warm summer nights in Montmartre.

Montmartre’s Milky Way at night, picture from http://paris-bise-art.blogspot.fr/, reproduced with permission

How to reach it: The crossing between Rue de Chevalier de la Barre & Rue Lamarck

Metro line: 4

Metro stop: Château Rouge 

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