Bonjour mes amis! Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Get prepared to fall in love with one of Paris’ most adored gems, the stunning Sacré-Cœur Basilica! This beautiful masterpiece sits atop the city’s highest point and offers the most spectacular views of the city of love. So please put on your walking shoes, bring your cameras, and let’s discover the history, the beauty, and the secrets of this fantastic place together! Sacré-Cœur, here we come!
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What is the Sacre Coeur?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. This famous landmark located at the summit of the butte Montmartre in Paris, France. The church is a popular tourist destination and is widely known for its beautiful architectural design and iconic white dome, visible from many parts of the city. It was built in the late 19th century and consecrated in 1919. The church is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a holy devotion to the physical heart of Jesus. It represets his divine love for humanity. Inside the basilica are several works of art, including mosaics and paintings. It is also a popular spot for tourists to get a panoramic view of the city.
History of the Sacre Coeur
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica has a rich history that spans over a century. The idea to build the church was proposed in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune of 1871 as a symbol of national repentance and a focal point for French patriotism. It was designed by a group of architects led by Paul Abadie, and construction began in 1875.
The building was not without its controversies and challenges, as the project faced financial difficulties, political opposition and even scandal during its construction. The site chosen for the basilica was also controversial as it was a highly symbolic location where the Paris Commune had been founded.
Despite these challenges, the church was eventually completed in 1914, just before the outbreak of World War I. Still, the consecration of the basilica was delayed until 1919. The basilica is built mainly of travertine stone, giving the building its characteristic white colour and a Romano-Byzantine architectural style. Inside the church is a mosaic of Christ enthroned, created by Luc-Olivier Merson, and several other works of art, including frescoes and sculptures.
Today, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a popular tourist destination and a cultural icon of Paris. It receives millions of visitors annually, who come to admire its architectural beauty, view the panoramic vistas of the city and learn about the church’s history.
What is there to see inside the Sacre Coeur?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a beautiful and historic church that is definitely worth a visit. Here are a few things to see inside the basilica:
- The Mosaic of Christ in Majesty: This stunning mosaic, created by Luc-Olivier Merson, covers the entire apse and depicts Christ enthroned in the heavens, surrounded by angels and symbols of the four evangelists.
- The Frescoes: The basilica is adorned with several frescoes and painted decorations on the ceiling and walls. These frescoes depict scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, as well as allegorical and symbolic images.
- The sculptures: The basilica is home to several sculptures that are worth seeing. The most notable is the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in the apse, which is the basilica’s central symbol.
- The Crypt: Beneath the basilica, there is a crypt that visitors can explore. The crypt is home to several chapels, altars, and a collection of religious artefacts and sculptures.
- The dome: The dome of the basilica is one of the church’s most striking features. It is worth climbing the dome and going to the terrace to enjoy the panoramic views of Paris.
What is the view from the Sacre Coeur like?
The view from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is genuinely breathtaking. The basilica sits atop the hill of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, which allows for panoramic views of the city and its landmarks. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction from the terrace of the basilica.
To the west, you can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, which is particularly beautiful when it is lit up at night. To the east, you can see the rooftops of Paris and the city’s famous landmarks, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Panthéon. To the south, you can see the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées, as well as the lush greenery of the Luxembourg Gardens.
Additionally, you can enjoy the view of the city itself, the winding streets and the rooftops of Paris, and see how the city is built on a grid pattern. You can also enjoy the sight of the famous Parisian landmarks of the city from a distance.
The Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees are only easy to see from the terrace of the Sacre Coeur itself.
It’s truly a magical experience and one of the city’s most iconic views.
What is the Sacre Coeur famous for?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a famous landmark and tourist destination in Paris, and it is known for several things:
- Its Location: The basilica sits atop Montmartre hill, offering visitors panoramic views of the city.
- Its Architecture: The basilica is a notable example of the Romanesque-Byzantine style of architecture, with white domes and towers, mosaics and frescoes that make it very striking.
- Its religious significance: The basilica is a Roman Catholic church and is a place of pilgrimage and worship. It’s also a memorial for the French soldiers who died during the Franco-Prussian War.
- Its History: The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was built in the late 19th century. Its construction symbolised the city’s renewal after the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune.
- Its Cultural significance: Montmartre, located in the basilica, has been an artistic and bohemian hub for centuries. Many famous artists and writers lived and worked in the neighbourhood, and the hill inspired many of their works.
- Being featured in movies: The basilica was featured in famous movies such as Moulin Rouge and Amelie.
Those are a few reasons why the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is famous and attracts millions of visitors annually.
What are the open hours of the Sacre Coeur?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is open to visitors every day of the year. However, the opening hours may vary depending on the time of year.
Typically, the basilica is open from 6:00 AM to 10:30 PM. However, the season and special events might affect the exact schedule. The terrace and the dome are open to the public, usually at 9:00 AM and close at sunset. It is advisable to check the official website or contact the basilica directly for the most up-to-date information on the opening hours.
It is worth noting that the church is a place of worship, so there may be times when access is restricted due to services or other events. It is also good to know that sometimes, the basilica might be closed or have restricted access for private events or security reasons. It’s good to check the official website before visiting.
What is the Sacre Coeur ticket price?
The entrance to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is free of charge. Visitors are welcome to enter the church and admire its architecture and works of art at no cost. However, if you want to climb the dome or go to the terrace, you must purchase a separate ticket.
The ticket cost to climb the dome and go to the terrace varies depending on the season and the type of ticket you want to purchase. Typically, an adult’s ticket price ranges between 8 to 10 €, but it can change during peak season. Sometimes, reduced-price tickets are available for students, children and senior citizens.
The dome and terrace have limited capacity, so if you plan to climb the dome, you might need to queue for a while or wait for the next available time slot.
Also, please note that the terrace and the dome are closed on Mondays. There are also some days of the year when the terrace and dome are closed for maintenance, during the bad weather or in the winter.
10 facts about the Sacre Coeur basilica in Paris
- The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of the Montmartre hill in Paris, France.
- The church was built in the late 19th century and consecrated in 1919.
- The basilica is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a holy devotion to the physical heart of Jesus.
- The architect of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is Paul Abadie, but he didn’t finish the work. The construction was finished by Louis-Jules André and was completed by Joseph-Hippolyte Lebas.
- The basilica is built mainly of travertine stone, which gives the building its characteristic white colour.
- The dome of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is one of the highest points in Paris and offers panoramic views of the city.
- Inside the church is a mosaic of Christ enthroned, created by Luc-Olivier Merson, as well as frescoes and sculptures.
- The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a popular tourist destination and receives millions of visitors annually.
- The basilica is open to the public every day of the year. However, the terrace and the dome have limited capacity, and opening hours may vary depending on the time of year.
- The entrance to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is free, but there is a cost to climb the dome and go to the terrace.
What are some of the best things to do close to the Sacre Coeur?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located in the charming and historic neighbourhood of Montmartre. There are many things to see and do close by. Here are a few suggestions:
- Explore Montmartre: Take a walk through the winding streets of Montmartre, home to artists and bohemians for centuries. You can find charming cafés, boutique shops, and art galleries, and you can also see the famous Moulin de la Galette, one of the oldest windmills in Paris. Check out the best walking tours here.
- Visit the Place du Tertre: This charming square is the heart of Montmartre, and it’s lined with artists’ studios, cafes and souvenir shops. Here you can find painters and portraitists offering to paint your portrait in a few minutes. Find the best things to do at Place du Tertre here.
- Visit the Musée de Montmartre: This museum is housed in the former home of the painter, writer and sculptor Pierre-Auguste Renoir and offers a glimpse into the history and artists of Montmartre. Get your tickets here.
- Visit the Basilica of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre: This is the oldest in Paris and is a short walk from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It has a beautiful bell tower that offers a great city view.
- Enjoy the view: Take a stroll to the Place du Calvaire, Place des Abbesses or the Place des Trois Frères. These places offer great panoramic views of Paris and the Sacre-Coeur.
What are the best restaurants in Montmartre?
Montmartre is a historic neighbourhood in Paris known for its charming streets, bohemian atmosphere, and vibrant culinary scene. There are many great restaurants in Montmartre to choose from. Here are a few options:
- Chez Plumeau: This restaurant is located in the heart of Montmartre and is known for its cosy atmosphere and traditional French cuisine. The menu features dishes such as escargots, steak frites, and coq au vin.
- Chez Toinette: This restaurant is a Montmartre institution and serves classic French cuisine in a rustic setting. The menu features dishes such as duck confit and boeuf bourguignon.
- Au P’tit Grec: This casual Greek restaurant serves delicious Mediterranean fare, such as moussaka, tzatziki, and souvlaki, with a lovely view of the city.
- Le Relais Gascon: This charming restaurant serves traditional dishes from the Gascony region of France, such as confit de canard, magret, and garbure. The atmosphere is cosy and rustic, and the view of the city is excellent.
- Chez La Belle Hortense: This cosy wine bar serves French cuisine with a focus on seafood. It’s also a bookstore, a gallery and a concert hall with a bohemian atmosphere.
These are a few options of many that Montmartre has to offer. Still, many other great restaurants in the area represent different types of cuisine, prices, and atmosphere. Check customer reviews, make a reservation in advance, and be prepared to experience Montmartre’s lively atmosphere.
What are the best hotels with a view of the Sacre Coeur?
Montmartre offers several hotels with views of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Here are a few options:
- The ibis Paris Montmartre 18ème is a budget-friendly option located in the heart of Montmartre, close to the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The hotel offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities, and is a good choice for travelers who want to explore the area on a budget. Check price and availability.
- The Aparthotel Adagio Paris Montmartre offers self-catering apartments with modern amenities, such as fully equipped kitchens and free Wi-Fi. The hotel is located in the 18th arrondissement, close to the famous Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, the Moulin Rouge, and the Montmartre Vineyard. Check price and availability.
- The Best Western Plus Hôtel Littéraire Marcel Aymé is a charming hotel located in the heart of Montmartre. The hotel features a literary theme, with rooms named after famous French authors, and is decorated with original works of art and photographs. Check price and availability.
- Le Relais Montmartre is a charming hotel located in the heart of the historic Montmartre neighborhood. The hotel offers cozy and comfortable rooms with traditional decor and modern amenities, and is a great choice for travelers who want to experience the charm and character of the area. Check price and availability.
- Hôtel des Arts Montmartre is a traditional Parisian hotel located in the heart of Montmartre. The hotel features a unique, art-inspired decor and offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi. The hotel is close to famous attractions such as the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the Montmartre Vineyard. Check price and availability.
How many people visit the Sacre Coeur every year?
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a popular tourist destination in Paris and receives many visitors yearly. However, the number of visitors varies yearly and may also be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. In pre-pandemic times, it was estimated that the basilica received around 11 million visitors annually. This makes it one of the most visited tourist sites in Paris, along with other famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.
What time is the high mass in the Sacre Coeur?
The schedule of High Mass (or Solemn Mass) at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica can vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week.
For example, a High Mass is usually celebrated on Sunday at 11:00 AM. Still, other masses are celebrated during the week at different hours. It’s always recommended to check the basilica’s official website or contact the basilica’s staff directly to confirm the current mass schedule and any special Mass or ceremony schedules.
It’s worth noting that schedules change depending on the specific week or month and the events happening at the basilica. It’s always best to check with the basilica staff or their official website for the most up-to-date schedule.
It would be best if you also remembered that you might need to arrive early to get a seat for the mass and also be aware of the dress code, which is appropriate for a place of worship, such as no shorts, mini-skirts, bare shoulders or flip-flops.
How many steps do you need to climb to the Sacre Coeur?
The number of steps you need to climb to reach the Sacré-Cœur Basilica varies depending on your starting point and route. Still, it’s generally considered a steep climb.
One of the most popular ways to reach the basilica is to take the stairs that lead up to the entrance, starting from the Place Saint-Pierre. This staircase has around 300 steps.
Alternatively, you can reach the top of the hill by climbing the stairs at the Place des Abbesses. This staircase is just under 300 steps.
The Funicular de Montmartre also provides an alternative and comfortable way to reach the basilica without climbing the stairs. This option is suitable for those who have difficulty walking up the hill.
Be prepared for the climb: wear comfortable shoes if you plan to use the stairs, and be aware of your physical condition. It’s always better to take your time and be safe.
How much time should you need to visit the Sacre Coeur?
The time needed to visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica can vary depending on your interests and the time you want to explore the site. However, most visitors spend an average of one to two hours at the basilica.
To get the most out of your visit, you should spend some time exploring the basilica’s interior, admiring the mosaics, frescoes, and sculptures. You could also take some time to climb the dome and enjoy the panoramic views of Paris or explore the crypt and the chapels beneath the basilica.
If you want to explore the neighbourhood of Montmartre’s neighbourhood, plan to spend more time. Montmartre is a historic and charming neighbourhood with plenty of art galleries, cafes, and boutiques to explore. You can also take a walk around the hill, admire the view from different points and enjoy the bohemian atmosphere of the neighbourhood.
In summary, one hour would be a minimum to see the inside of the basilica and the dome and enjoy the view, two hours would be a more comfortable time for a visit, including the neighbourhood and maybe lunch, but you can spend more time if you would like to explore more the neighbourhood of Montmartre.
How to get to the Sacre Coeur by Metro?
There are several ways to get to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica by metro, depending on your starting location in Paris. Here are a few options for getting to the basilica using the Paris metro:
- Line 12: Take the metro to the Abbesses station. The basilica is located just a short walk from the station.
- Line 2: Take the metro to the Anvers station, then change to the Funicular de Montmartre (Line 12) and take it one stop to the top at the Sacré-Cœur.
- Line 4: Take the metro to the Barbès-Rochechouart station, then change to Line 12 and take it to the Jules Joffrin station. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
- Line 13: Take the metro to the Pigalle station, change to line 12 direction Mairie d’Issy and get off at Jules Joffrin station. Then it’s about a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
It’s important to remember that the Paris metro system can be busy during peak hours and on weekends, so it’s a good idea to plan your trip in advance and allow extra time to get to the basilica. And also, always check the RATP website for the most updated schedule, route or maintenance work that could affect your trip.
What is the closest metro station to the Sacre Coeur?
Abbesses station is located on the edge of Montmartre, the deepest metro station in Paris. It serves Line 12 and is only a short walk from the station to the basilica. It’s also the departure station for the Funicular de Montmartre, a unique and charming way to reach the top of the hill. The funicular can be a convenient option for those who have difficulty walking up the hill.
How to get from Charles de Gaule Airport (CDG) to Sacre Coeur?
Depending on your preference and budget, there are several options for getting from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Here are a few options:
- RER Train: The RER B train runs from the airport to the Gare du Nord. You can then change to the metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans and get off at Barbès-Rochechouart station, then change to Line 12 and take it to the Jules Joffrin station. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
- Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminal, but this option can be expensive and depend on the traffic.
- Airport Shuttle: There are several private shuttle services available at the airport. You will have to book in advance, which is expensive.
- Uber or other ride-sharing apps: Uber and other ride-sharing apps are available in Paris, it can be a convenient way to get to the basilica, but prices may vary depending on traffic and demand. We paid about 40 euros on a Saturday night from CDG to our hotel in Montmartre in 2022.
- Public bus: Roissybus is available from the airport to the Opera station, an affordable option, and it runs frequently. You can take metro line 7 to the Louvre-Rivoli station or metro line 14 to the station Pyramides and then switch to metro line 7 to Jules Joffrin. It’s a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
Check the official website of the RATP or SNCF to have the most updated schedule or any work on maintenance. Also, check the timetables and the best option depending on your arrival time, the amount of luggage you have, and your budget.
How to get from Orly Airport to the Sacre Coeur
Depending on your preference and budget, there are several options for getting from Orly Airport (ORY) to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Here are a few options:
- Orlyval and RER B: Orlyval is an automated metro service that connects Orly Airport with the RER B train. From Orly Airport, take the Orlyval train to the Antony station, then switch to the RER B train and take it to the Gare du Nord. From there, you can change to metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans and get off at Barbès-Rochechouart station, then change to Line 12 and take it to the Jules Joffrin station. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
- Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminal, but this option can be pretty expensive and depend on the traffic.
- Airport Shuttle: There are several private shuttle services available at the airport. You will have to book in advance, which could be quite expensive.
- Uber or other ride-sharing apps: Uber and other ride-sharing apps are available in Paris, it can be a convenient way to get to the basilica, but prices may vary depending on traffic and demand.
- Public bus: The Orlybus is a direct bus that takes you to the Denfert-Rochereau station. You can take the metro line 4 direction Porte d’Orleans and get off at Barbès-Rochechouart station, then change to Line 12 and take it to the Jules Joffrin station. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the basilica.
How to get to the Sacre Coeur from the Eiffel Tower?
The most convenient way to get from the Eiffel Tower to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica by public transport is by metro.
Here is one possible route:
- Take the metro line 6 direction Charles de Gaulle Etoile and get off at the Bir-Hakeim station.
- Change to metro line 12 direction Mairie d’Issy and get off at Jules Joffrin station, the closest to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
- Once you exit the station, the basilica is a short walk away.
This route takes about 20 minutes, and it is only one transfer. It does not require any additional fare if you have a valid transportation ticket for the city.
Check the official website of the RATP to have the most updated schedule or any work on maintenance that could affect your trip.
Also, you can use the RATP trip planner to check the best route and schedule depending on your departure time and other options such as wheelchair access, elevator, etc.
How to pronounce Sacre Coeur
“Sacré-Cœur” (the correct and official name) is French and is pronounced as “sak-ray-kur.” The accent is on the first syllable, “sak” and “Coeur” is pronounced as “our”, similar to cur in the word “incur.”
It’s important to note that in French, the letter “é” is pronounced as “ay”, and “œ” is pronounced like “er” in the word “sher”, making the full pronunciation of “Sacré-Cœur” as “sak-ray-kur”.
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!