Some might believe that the best views of Paris can be seen from the Eiffel Tower, but there is another place that offers even better scenery.
When we talk about Paris, the first monument that comes to mind is the iconic Eiffel Tower, visited by more than 7 million visitors every year. This makes the tower the most visited monument in the world that you would have to pay to access it. However, when talking about the Eiffel Tower, many people forget about the many other attractions that differentiate the beautiful City of Light from different parts of the world.
One such landmark is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart which sits atop the rolling heights of Montmartre in Paris. Each year, more than 1 million people flock to the Sacré Coeur to contemplate the beauty of this unique site in France. The monument became famous again after being featured in several films, such as Amélie. Moreover, the basilica was built at the end of the 19th century and its visit during a trip to Paris is a must for several reasons.
How to get to Sacre Coeur and what to see in this area
The basilica is located in the Montmartre district, in the center-north of Paris, in the 18th arrondissement. People can take the metro to Sacré Coeur or drive there. The closest metro stations to the basilica are Anvers or Pigalle (Line 2), Abesses (Line 12) and Jules-Joffrin (Line 12). After reaching these stations, people have to take a short walk to get to the site.
The basilica has 270 steps that people can climb. Those who find it difficult can take the funicular which is on the left down the hill. They will have to pay the price of an ordinary metro ticket. Since the basilica is a religious site, people should keep a level of silence and voices at a whisper.
- Hours of operation: The Sacré Cœur is open all year round from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- Cost: Entrance to the basilica is free.
The most spectacular views of the Sacré Coeur
Most people climb Sacré-Coeur to access the dome of the basilica, which offers the most spectacular and breathtaking panoramic views in all of Paris. To do this, visitors must enter the basilica through the entrance on the left.
To reach the dome, visitors must climb another 300 steps as there is no elevator. Those who do not wish to enter the basilica can still enjoy the most breathtaking views from the large terrace. On a clear day, visitors to the basilica can stop Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse Tower, and other iconic Paris attractions by standing on the large terrace of Sacré-Coeur.
- Hours of operation: From May to September, the dome is open daily from 08:30 to 20:00. From October to April, it opens daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Cost: To access the dome of the Sacred Heart, people must pay a cash fee. However, no information is available on ticket prices on the basilica’s website. The last cost that was paid was €6 per person.
- Guided tours: As the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a site of meditation, relaxation, prayer and silence activities, no guided tours are offered. However, people can download a free audio guide and listen to it while wearing headphones.
What you need to know before visiting the Sacré Coeur
The main site of the basilica is accessible to people with disabilities. However, they may still need special assistance. People should be careful when visiting the area around Sacre Coeur as it is full of crooks and pickpockets. This is why visitors should remain vigilant at all times and keep their valuables in the safe of their hotel room. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart shares certain architectural characteristics with Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice. These are different from the Gothic style of Notre Dame as the Sacred Heart was built in the Roman-Byzantine style.
What sets the basilica apart are its white limestone exteriors sourced from Paris. There are two breathtaking equestrian statues on the facade of the basilica; the first is of Joan of Arc on horseback, and the second is of King Saint Louis. The interior of the basilica is very striking, with the extensive use of gold leaf and mosaics dating back to 1922. Unfortunately, the original stained glass windows were completely destroyed during World War II. These were later replaced and restored. It should also be noted that the Dome of the Sacred Heart is the second highest point in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower. Another valuable piece of information about the basilica is that its bell was built in 1895 in Annecy and weighs 19 tons. It is one of the heaviest and largest bells in the world.
- Recommended: It would be an unforgettable experience to go to the basilica on New Year’s Eve to count down and watch the spectacular fireworks.
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