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The Basilica of the Sacred Heart


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One of the most beautiful views in Paris

Translated by Mollie Reynolds — 8 months ago

Original text by Nuri Mercury

One of the most visited spots in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and co., is la Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre. It is located in the 18th arrondissement on Montmartre's hill, which is the highest place in Paris (without counting the Eiffel Tower, of course).

I have been here on two occasions: the first time I didn't go in and the second I did. In this article I will tell you more about this enchanting place.

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-0acec9cda55aView from the outside of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre... you could stay there for hours just gazing at it from outside!

A little bit of history...

Built in 1875 (at least, that was when its construction began), this temple is dedicated to the French soldiers that died on the battlefield during the Franco-Prussian War. To give a brief historical context, this war conflict was the most significant not only in France, but in the whole of Europe prior to the First and Second World War. So you can already imagine how many French citizens passed away and for that reason it was decided that the basilica would be dedicated to them.

Of course, the construction of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur was decided by the National Assembly of that era. Another noteworthy point is that it was built with donations made by the people... as was the famous Fourvière Basilica in Lyon.

Additionally, as its name suggests (and that you surely will have already guessed), this basilica is consecrated as the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

My visit to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur...

From afar, the Basilique du Sacre Coeur is already impressive and it stands out because it is constructed with white stone. In fact, from the fifth floor of the Musée d'Orsay (the section dedicated to Impressionism), there are a few large windows and high up in the distance you can see a white monument: it is none other than Montmartre. And if it stands out from this distance, you can already imagine what it's like when you have it in front of you.

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-3f179a8bf29fI took this photo last Sunday, from the Musée d'Orsay. My phone camera isn't very good, you can't see very well but it was a bit cloudy on that day and the only place where it was sunny was over Montmartre. So, far away the white basilica stands out in the landscape :)

I remember when I went with my mum we walked there as we were staying close to that area. We climbed a few steps and there were always signs indicating where to go. Even though there is a cable car that drops you off just in front of the top of Montmartre, I recommend that you make the journey on foot, if possible. As it is a hill, you are rewarded with very beautiful views of Paris and I can assure you that stopping every five minutes to enjoy such views is a true pleasure (well, for that and to have a rest if the walk tires you out).

On top of this, its small walkways, parks and neighbouring shops are also pleasant to see. The area has a very picturesque atmosphere.

When we arrived at the temple, we saw that outside there were a lot of vendors... typical but where there are tourists, there are vendors! It seems that their presence is proportional to the number of visitors. They were selling everything from souvenirs, small games and postcards, to bags and wallets.

Although it wasn't high season (we went towards the end of March/beginning of April), there were a lot of people. This is to be expected as, in addition to the church being impressive (as much for its architecture as for its size), the top of Montmartre offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Paris.

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-8c33c4e530cbI took this photo when we weren't far off reaching the atrium of the basilica.

After taking photos from the outside, we decided to go in. It didn't take long to get inside the church (I imagine that in the summer there must be a long queue waiting to get in... ), but once inside we were surprised: when we were getting ready to take photos of the inside, the security guards told us that it wasn't allowed...

I suppose they do this with the excuse of preserving the temple or something like that, but it seems a bit much to me. They don't even do that in Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral, where you can take all the photos you want... but oh well, sometimes you have to follow the rules, even if they seem silly.

If you still want an image of the inside of the basilica (and a mental image isn't good enough), you can buy one of the numerous postcards that they sell right outside. Or, if not, you can try to sneakily take photos behind their back. But don't blame me if you get told off!

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-b0f5b62be0ffNooo, I didn't take this photo. The interior of the Sacre Coeur is impressive. In the images you can see, the scenes are made with minuscule mosaics. It reminds of the style of Fourvière, but I do prefer Fourvière's decorations.

Another thing I remember, is that the day that I went, they were closing part of the Basilica (I still don't know whether it was because they were closing completely or because there was going to be mass). The security guards were throwing people out, but in a not very pleasant way let's say. They were basically rushing at us, behaving like idiots ¬¬'' I think it's a real shame, because if this place receives funding, I am pretty sure it's from the millions and millions of visitors that come here every day. Oh well..

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-17b2b2c946b1

Just like "Ce n'est pas une pipe", I can say: "This is not a picture of the inside of the Sacre Coeur" :P

On the other hand, that day it was sunny. Even though it was cold (and it's supposed to be spring already! ) the atmosphere outside was quite lively. Just at the basilica's foot, there is a park and a promenade. It's a place of which not only some (or many) sellers take advantage, offering their products, but also numerous street artists. From musicians (solo artists and bands) to break dance dancers and funny stand-up comedians.

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-a97300ef46a6

This piece of art caught my attention when we were walking down from Montmartre: I have seen various masques embedded in walls around Paris...

We stayed here for a while, taking pictures (to make up for those we have taken inside :P) and enjoying the sun. Of course, that day I succumbed to the temptation of a bag (a handbag, not a plastic bag :p). There was one that was just the model I had wanted for a long time, I just couldn't find one that would convince me... well, not until that moment. My mum also got one (or two? ) and the guy gave us a small discount.

After that, we walked down the stairs to a small garden, with some truly beautiful flowers. We kept walking down until we reached some small streets with shops selling fabrics and when we arrived at Boulevard Rochechouartit was almost like arriving at the shopping paradise! :P It's that in this area, there are a lot of shops selling shoes, cloths and accessorise at prices which are not too high (sure, they are made out of synthetic materials, but for that price it's not a bad offer^^). I would have been delighted to stay there for longer, taking a complete tour of these local stores, but it was getting late and we had to catch our train back to Lyon :(

But well, after we had seen the Basilique du Sacre Coeur on the inside and on the outside, I couldn't be sad :)

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-9aa2bc7414f4

To prove my point (a picture :P): the panoramic view of Paris. Even though live it's muuuch more beautiful ^^

Interesting facts...

With roman and Byzantine style, the architecture of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur inspired and influences other buildings of the era. Among those, Entre ellas, the Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux stands out. this other basilica is very close to Caen, the city where I spent my university exchange, when I was doing my degree :) I remember that when I went there it reminded me a lot of the Sacre Coeur de Montmartre… and now I understand why!

una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-f61c5ea791de

A foto of the Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux: can you see the resemblance to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre? It is quite evident, don't try to tell what my friend said: "Well... yes, from far far away, half-drunk and with your eyes half-closed" :P (A picture taken from http://www.eurogrille.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/basiliquesaintetheresedelisieux.jpg)

How to get there

To get to the Basilica of Montmartre, you can take the metro and get off at the Anvers stop (line 2) or Abbesses (line 12). From there you can take the funicular of Montmartre or else, you can walk on foot, it's not far. other option would be to get off at the Château Rouge stop and walk uphill to the Basilica.

Opening hours

It's open from 6:00 a. m. till 10:30 p. m., from Monday to Sunday. Although visiting is not allowed when there's is a mass. On the other hand, I saw that you could sign up for the night prayers.

After visiting…

Visiting of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre does not end there. As I have explained above, on your way out, I recommend you to take a walk in the adjacent gardens and along the street of the Montmartre district. It's a very picturesque place, where you can find various artists, mostly painters who find inspiration in the pretty scenes of the Parisian streets.

Some extra advice...

  • Be careful with you belongings! It's the same as in the metro and other places with thousands of people: take care of your belongings, because in the sea of people and among the pushing, there might be some who will take advantage to take what is not theirs.

    una-vistas-mas-bellas-paris-830e47fb4bcd

    These toys, that they were selling outside, caught my attention: little trains made out of letters of peoples' names. Very cute, with their little heart and all <3 :)

  • Bring water! Since it's a very busy place, it's normal that sellers try to take advantage of the demand and a plain bottle of water can turn out to be very expensive. So be prescient and bring yours;) Your mouth and your pocket will be grateful!

Conclusion

You must go to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. You will be able to enjoy one of the most precious views of Paris and see the city from a different perspective. What's more, the interior of the temple will amaze you. On the other hand, far from the big stores with expensive and prestigious brands, the are of Montmartre is a picturesque and bohemian place. You cannot miss it out :)

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A panoramic picture from the atrium of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It's one of the view that I'll remember during my whole life :)

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