Paris Sacre-Coeur and MontmartreThere are few sights more photographed than Sacré-Coeur standing proud on the highest hill in Paris. In 1870 at the start of the Franco-Prussian War, two Catholic businessmen, Alexandre Legentil and Rohault de Fleury made a vow to build a church to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ if France was spared from the Prussian onslaught. In spite of a lengthy siege, Paris was saved and Sacré-Coeur basilica was commenced in 1875. The basilica was virtually completed by 1914, but consecration and final finishes had to wait until after the German invasion during the First World War.

Unfortunately, there is no disabled access to Sacré-Coeur with steps both to get in and once inside.

Priests still pray for the souls of the dead here 24 hours a day. The interior of Sacré-Coeur is simpler than some other churches in Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral or Sainte-Chapelle to name but two, but tourists still flock here for the wonderful views, especially at sunset, there are few sights more romantic or memorable in Paris.

There are some notable features to observe on your visit to Sacré-Coeur but given the crowds which are often here, it is best to arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to do so.

Before entering the basilica look above the main entrance and you will see two striking bronze horse statues bearing Joan of Arc and the other of St. Louis. Directly above the front door is the basilica’s most important statue of Christ giving a blessing. The Bronze entrance doors in the portico are beautifully decorated with sculptures depicting the Last Supper and other scenes from the life of Christ.

Paris Sacre-Coeur Mosaic of ChristInside a glittering Byzantine mosaic ‘Great Mosaic of Christ’ decorates the vault over the chancel, it represents France’s devotion to the Sacred Heart. And probably the most interesting feature of the interior is the arched vaults of the crypt. The distinctive dome of the basilica is the second highest point in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower and can be reached via a spiral staircase to provide panoramic views as far as 30 miles away.

The climb to reach Sacré-Coeur from Pigalle is steep but can be reduced by taking the Funiculaire from the end of rue Foyatier or by using the little white train which leaves Place Blanche every 30 minutes during the summer. There is also a Montmartrebus service which snakes its way up from Pigalle.

Opening Times:

  • Sacré-Coeur is open every day from 6am to 10.30pm
  • The Dome is open 9.00am to 7pm (6pm in winter)
  • It is also possible to visit the crypt (the opening times vary)

Paris Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur in the sunlight

Montmartre

There is so much to enjoy in the area around Sacré-Coeur, take a romantic stroll along the winding cobble streets and explore cottage-lined alleys and stairways, with their quaint bars, food and fashion shops and you will soon be entranced with Montmartre’s village charm – suggestions for a full-day itinerary can be found at Montmartre.

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