Montmartre Sacré-Coeur Basilica
As well as being Paris’s most-visited religious site after Notre-Dame, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the top f the Montmartre hill is also one of the city’s most famous silhouettes: from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amélie” to Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Sacré-Cœur remains a backdrop of choice for anyone wanting to evoke the French capital.
Construction of Sacré-Cœur began in 1875, after the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune de Paris, but took over 40 years, so the church wasn’t consecrated until 1919. Ever since, it has been drawing visitors and pilgrims, who come to admire its immaculate whiteness, sumptuous façade and cupolas that mix Roman and Byzantine influences. To reach the Basilica, energetic visitors will want to try climbing the hill’s famous stairs, while others can opt for the Montmartre funicular (for the price of a Metro ticket).
Once inside, it is impossible to miss the huge mosaic of “Christ in Glory,” which dazzles with its sparkling colours and sublime depiction of the risen Christ with a golden heart. At 475 square metres, it is one of the largest mosaics in the world. The bell tower, which is not open to visitors, holds the 19-tonne Savoyarde, the largest bell in France!
Access to the dome is from outside, to the left of the church. You’ll have to climb 300 steps to reach the summit, but once you’re there, you’ll find one of the most staggering views of Paris. It’s worth spending some time in the area after the church has closed too, as you will be able to enjoy the spectacle of the illuminated Basilica, see the lights of the city at your feet and wander around the bustling Place du Tertre and ancient cobbled passages of the charming Abbesses neighbourhood. Discover also the cemetery of Montmartre in which are buried many personalities including the Goulue, the queen of the Moulin Rouge and the French cancan.
The village of Montmartre was dear to the impressionist painters. Follow in their footsteps.