“ Sightseeing Type: Churches / Temples / Address: 35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre / Paris 18e / Tel: : 01 53 41 89 00 „
When visiting Paris recently my guidebook advised heading to the top of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur as an alternative to going to the top of the Eiffel Tower as it provides equally stunning views. I took this advice and it is spot on. If you want to see the whole of Paris stretching out below you in all directions to the horizon go to Sacre Coeur.
The building itself is beautiful and though must smaller, I found it more amazing and enjoyable to see than the cathedral at Notre Dame. It is also must less busy, especially at the top, where only 10 other people were up there when I was (at 11am). As it is less busy you can take more time to enjoy it on a personal level. The stain glass windows are stunning and brightly coloured and the interior of the Basilique is nicer than most churces I have been into and the atmosphere as calm and reverent as you would expect.
The Basilique is located on top of a hill in the centre of Paris, so to get there you can either walk up this hill (plenty of beautiful walks in the Montmartre area and I would advise this) or you can take the funicular by buying a standard Metro ticket for under Euro2.
To go into the main building of the Basilique is FREE. As an optional extra you can pay to go to the top of the dome and to view the crypt. Going to the top of the dome alone is very worthwhile and only costs Euro6. The Crypt alone costs Euro4, but is pretty much just the basement and looked boring through the glass doors (my guidebook advised avoiding it). You can pay Euro8 to see both dome and crypt. As the Basilique is on a big hill, you can see stunning views when outside, so paying for the dome is optional, but I would advise it as it is a beautiful dome to see and there are much fewer people at the top than are outside.
The Sacre Coeur.
The Sacre Coeur officially called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart ( of Christ) of Paris can be found at the Summit of Montmartre in Paris in the area St. Denis. If you are arriving by Euro star services into the Gard du Nord you will notice it on your way into Paris. It stands magnificently at the top of the hill 280 meters above sea level. It can be reached either by mounting the stairs in front of the Basilica or via a Funicular on the left hand side of the stairs and gardens for a small fee. Alternatively you can walk up the winding road ways or by car although there are only limited parking spaces available.
The hill of Montmartre can be translated as the Martyrs Mount due to the public executions that used to take place here. It has always been a place of worship in this area high above the city with temples dedicated to Mars and Mercury. There was an abbey on the hill where apparitions of St.Denis was supposedly seen carrying his head after being beheaded here in fact the last abbess of the abbey and the nuns of the Abbey were sent to the guillotine here too during the French revolution.
The Basilica was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Franco Prussian war. All of the money raised was by donations to the Basilica following the war. Work started on the basilica in 1875 and although it was dedicated in 1891 it was not completely finished until 1914.
From far below the Church it looks like it is modelled out of sugar icing being completely white with a large dome on the centre of the church and four smaller ones in front and rear. The stone was specially quarried that constantly exudes calcite which gives it its permanent white appearance and has not fell foul to pollution or worn down by the weather. Anyone with mobility difficulties would find it a challenge to say the least due to the stairs involved in reaching the church.
The views from the pathway immediately in front of the Basilica look out over the whole of Paris and from this point you can see the other famous landmarks of Paris including the Eiffel tower, Cathedral De Notre Dame, La defence, L'Hotel des Invalides and the Arc D'Triumph.
Entrance to the Basilica is free but you have to pay 5 Euros to either go up to the top of the Dome from which you can get unparalleled views of Paris and 5 Euros to go into the crypt. On the outside of the church are two statues on horseback on plinths. One is a statue of St. Joan of Arc and the other King Louis XVII. Entering the church through the massive triple brass doors you come into an area at the front of the Basilica. Being a catholic church there is a book shop and souvenir shop selling plastic figurines of the Basilica and other knickknacks associated with Christianity, rosaries and prayer beads, candlesl, figurines of the Blessed Virgin Mary and books etc.
Inside the church it is very dark except the area around and behind the altar in the Apse where there is a beautiful inlaid mosaic that is lit up on the upper walls and ceilings. The figures in the mosaics have a golden halo surrounding their heads. Around the sides of the church however it is not so well lit and is very dark and gloomy inside. This is quite a common feature of Catholic churches in France. There are some stained glass windows around the outside walls of the church but they are also very dark and the pieces of glass somewhat small which does not allow much light in.
Behind the Basilica is a garden for contemplation and it is very peaceful with a small water feature. It is lovely to sit here for a short while away from the hustle and bustle. The walk down is far easier than the walk up but once you reach the base in front of the Basilica there is a carousel which has been there for as long as I can remember and is very popular for people who have kids with them.
At the bottom of the hill is the less salubrious area of Pigalle which is probably best to be avoided during the evening due to its avant Garde nature shall we say! There are some morally questionable people who hang around this area so watch your wallets here and also do not be enticed into the bars here. You will be guaranteed to lose lots of money in this area.
It is also here in Montmartre that you will find many artists painting pictures of the Basilica or painting face pictures of the thousands of tourists that come here. Always ask the price first. Many of the artists are in fact students but they do produce some very good work.
There are some superb little restaurants around the hill. Do not go into the tourist restaurants at the bottom of the hill looking directly up at the Sacre Coeur because you will be paying over inflated prices but if you wish to eat here then always ask for the plat du jour which is a basic meal at a fixed price consisting of two or three courses at a reasonable price. This is a remnant from the French Revolution in that all restaurants in France have to by law offer a set menu at a reasonable price for all people. I would advise you to walk away from this area and find a nice little restaurant in one of the side streets. I have had some delightful meals in this area which replenish and restore you and are of much better quality.
Hours of opening are from 06:00 to 22:00.
Remember this is a working church and prayers are taking place throughout the day. There is also a night service of adoration and prayers but you are locked in for the night for this. These services are undertaken by priests monks and nuns who continue to pray throughout the night for the sacred heart of Christ.
Admission prices for the Dome and Crypt are 5 Euros per person.
Basilique Du Sacre Coeur De Montmartre.
35,Avenue de chevalier-De-Le Barre,
Nearest Metro stations.
If you are spending any time in Paris this beautiful place is a must on your list of visits. Highly recommended.
The approach to the Sacre Coeur is jam packed with tacky shops and street vendors selling every souvenir item possible with "I <3 Paris" printed onto them, including condoms!
Already having tired feet and becoming more hot from the sunny afternoon, weaving, pushing and denying the attention of these vendors and beggars was not the nicest journey to take but from images we had seen of the basilica, we knew it would be worth the walk. Once you are at the top of the street there is a funicular that you can get to the top of the steps.
Unfortunately as we approached the steps up to the church there was no difference in the people surrounding us, the paths were graffiti and litter lined and you literally had to step over drunks and beggars to get up the steps. There was even a merry-go-round and ice cream seller within the gates of the steps! Yes these things are innocent but are they really necessary at the entrance to a church?
We reached the road that runs in front of the bottom of the church steps and chose to go no further. This was a real shame as my Mum had viscid the church on a school trip when she was 17 and was excited to relive the beauty of the inside. However she felt anxious having to walk past yet more illegal vendors and didn't fancy shouting "no" every time we were offered 5 Eiffel Tower key rings for one euro. At the top of the steps directly in font of the church we could hear and see youths dancing and showing off to the noise blasting from their ghetto blasters-not the kind of thing that you expect to see, nor is appropriate outside of a place of worship!
Facing the church we decided to follow the road around to the left, following the signs for the Dali monument. The street is cobbled and we were unsure where it would lead us. After only a few minutes you could see a great view of the Eiffel Tower and over Paris which was a nice change from the sights we had seen a few minutes before. Following the road up further you get a lovely view of the church from the side, and it is also accessible from here too, but we decided to just keep walking. We were pleasantly surprised when we were greeted by a square of restaurants and more friendly street vendors offering to do portraits of you, as you walk further into the square the art work gets more classy and the streets are lined with painters creating wonderful depictions of the city. We got lost in and around these back streets and there was a lovely holiday atmosphere similar to the streets of greece with lots of bars, restaurants and cafes, it felt a million miles away from the city.
We then took a nice set of steps back down to the area tacky streets which led us back to the seedy Moulin Rouge district. We were lucky enough to weave through and avoid the shopping streets and passed by restaurants instead.
We all really wish we had known to approach the Sacre Coeur via the steps and streets that we left by, as the way we went first really did spoil it for us! The steps run near to the funicular line so a tip for suture visitors would be to head to the funicular and take the steps near there. I feel saddened that we let the outside of the church put us off going inside but hopefully I will be able to return in the future.
I have recently come back from Paris, what a beautiful city. The city has lots of attractions some of which are breathtaking. This could be said to Sacre Coeur, after climbing all the steps to it , it is on a very steep hill of Montrmatre, though there is a cable lift if you don't fancy the steps. The way up is rich in shops selling lots of souvenirs a lot of them selling much the same things though.
Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Montematre, is a gigantic white basilica that over looks all of Paris the view at the top if spectacular. If you are visiting Paris it really is something you should visit.
The basilica was designed by the architect Paul Abadiehe, the first stone was laid in 1875 and the basilica was Completed in 1914 but was not consecrated until 1919 after World War I.
Montematre is meant to be one of the most picturesque parts of Paris. We walked through the Parisian alleyways and it was a nice change from the hustle of all the other attractions. We did arrive at the basilica early though as we were leaving it had become quite busy.
There is no entry fee to enter the basilica, and once you are inside you are not aloud to take photos. And silence must be observed. The interior is magnificent; there are beautiful paintings and sculptures.
There is a charge of 5 euro to go into the towers and the crypt, which is Avery steep spiral staircase and is one way in and a different way out, any one not so keen on heights like my husband may want to give this a miss, unfortunately he got half way up and realised he couldn't turn back, But the view at the top is wonderful. It is the second highest view point in Paris, I cannot comment on the crypt as this was closed when I visited.
One of the down sides when we arrived at Sacre Ceour was there was a lot of glass broken bottles and litter, it was being cleaned up but it was still messy. There are also a lot of people trying to sell you things as well, and I believe pick pockets are in the area. We actually saw someone asleep in the gardens they looked as if they had been there all night.
Overall it is a very impressive building, and one of my most memorable in Paris.
Opening times are 7am till 10.15pm for the basilica, and for the Dome and crypt are 9am till 5.30pm.
Paris on a budget - The basilica of sacre coeur.
On our recent holiday to Paris, we set out to take in the capital, but without spending a fortune. We were on a strict budget and tried to take in as much of the culture of one of Europes most beautiful cities. Our Little hotel was in the montmatre region of the capital. Montmartre literally means hill of martyrs and therefore was the only real choice for one of the most striking religous buildings in the world.The Basilica of Sacre Coeur is Montmartre's leading tourist attraction, and it's probably the most-visited church in Paris after the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Unfortunately, the steps leading up to the basilica are also a prime target for the scam artists known as "string men," who prey on tourists and those who are not aware of such goings on.
Here's how the scam works:
A tourist (usually, but not always, female) enters the small fenced square below Sacre Coeur and proceeds toward the stairs that run up the hillside. Before they know it, a "string man" has grabbed her wrist and encircled it with a homemade bracelet of colored string. The string man then demands payment. they use the excuse that they are collecting for the church, but this is a complete lie. The tourist, who fears retaliation by the string man and his friends if she says "no," pays the requested sum to avoid a confrontation.
We were caught by one of the "string" men. Not the best of starts to our visit to one of the grandest basilica's in the world. He was friendly, and chatty. We did not know of the scam, and were surprised when he demanded payment. I said "non", but he perservered, demanding payment of twenty euros! I lied that i had not brought my wallet, and pulled a two euro coin out of my pocket. He did not look happy, but he left us alone. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it was scary, but i was more annoyed that they preyed on innocent people, visiting one of the most beautiful, and deeply religous places in the world.
When we had calmed down, we were finally able to take in the Basilica. Although we were inside the gates, we still had a long way to go. The hill of monmartre is the highest point in the capital, and you are in for a stiff uphill walk to get there. We chose to visit on the Monday, and i would suggest that you do not do this if you are travelling with the very young, or the very old. The basilica is served by a funicular (moving stairs.) most days, but not on mondays. Therefore we had to walk up the stairs to the very top. As we climbed, the steps got busier and busier. People just sitting there, be they students writing, lovers kissing, or musicians playing. It really was a sight in itself, and at least it broke up the journey to the top somewhat. We even encountered a man playing keepy uppy with a ball on the steps, with reggae music playing!!! He was very good, but i dont think he was obeying health and safety regulations! However, we struggled on to the top. We counted three hundred and six steps to the top!!! But when we got there, we turned and it all became worthwhile.
The view from the front of the basilica is amazing. It looked exactly like a postcard. We could see notre dame, the louvre, the eiffel tower. But they were all in miniture. It was only really from up here that we were able to take in the sheer scale of Paris as a whole. It truly is a massive place, yet it looked even more beautiful still when viewed from afar.
So, we went in. No photos were allowed, a rule which i had no problem with. I would never wish to disrupt such a deeply religious place. You must remember, that this is a working chapel. Still it serves the local community, and mass is served here as normal. We stayed only in for about ten minutes, but even still we were entranced by the purity of the place. You could make a donation to the sacred heart, and light a candle, which we did for a friend that passed on recently, and whom we miss dearly. It filled us with hope, that even though they have passed, they are in a better place. We walked on, and took in the romanesque arhitecture. It is huge on the inside, and although we did not stay long, i will never forget the christ on the ceiling. It was truly awesome!! We left, as it felt quite intrusive to be here, while others were worshiping. Rather like we were strangers, amidst a large family gathering. Though brief discussion with one local told me that they feel we are all part of the same family within those sacred walls.
We went outside, dazzled somwhat by the sun. We gazed a while on that view once more, and with renewed gusto we prepared ourselves for the descent......
Highly recommended. G
The Basilique du Sacre Coeur, a church of monumental architectural beauty and a symbol of religious wealth. Built on the hill of Montmartre above the City of Paris, this building and her fine white domes can be seen from almost everywhere within the city limits. Montmartre means mount of martyrs would you believe? So called because it was the place of martyrdom and some chap called Saint Denis, a bishop around the third century. It used to be a Benedictine Abbey until the barbaric French revolution when they guillotined all the nuns (sick) and destroyed the place leaving all the peasants to starve or fight for their survival.
Interesting off topic piece of useless irrelevance.
During the wars in 1870, the people of France were surrounded and had to survive by eating ALL the animals they had, cat, dog, horse, rat, the whole lot of them, hence why you still do not see as many animals in Paris as you would expect. Check the menu by the way.
Back on topic.
It looked as though France would taste defeat to Germany, but they managed to survive and two extremely wealthy chaps, Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury decided to build the Sacre Coeur as a mark of repent of their sins (The sins of Paris rather than themselves) and dedicate it to the heart of Christ an odd dedication as most of the other churches of that era, Notre-Dame etc were shrines of Mary, the immaculate conception mother of Christ.
Anyway, these chaps had a load of money so they got what they wanted and set about building this large domed church. They did collect many donations from other repenting wealthy people and the reward for their donation, their names carved eternally into the stone of the Sacre Coeur.
I caught the metro from Orleans to the Chateau Rouge and then headed uphill. Disabled people or anyone with walking difficulties will suffer here as the roads are steep and you have to climb many steps to reach the Sacre Coeur from here. There are alternative methods of ascending to the church but even when you are there you need to be fairly mobile or be accompanied by some strong people in my opinion. Anyway, we climbed what seemed like 2 or 3 hundred steps to gain access to the church via the East side. This was an arduous task even for the fit so its a reason to do a rocky dance for old fatty here when I reached the top.
FACT: You can get an all day Metro ticket for about £6 and it gives you unlimited travel throughout the three main zones in Paris for the day. You also get a booklet of discount coupons which include a two for one boat trip which saves you almost a tenner.
When you reach the top you can see forever. Below you, Paris seems so far and distant and the Eiffel Tower looks like it is a lamp post. If you walk to the top of the road that fronts the church, you have an uninterrupted view of Paris and the Seine, with her many bridges. I would recommend that you do this on a clear day as the haze can limit your view as we found out to start with.
Enough, the church itself beckoned so we walked the dozen or so steps from the road to the big brass doors. Above and to each side, you have two saints on horses, one is Joan of Arc, the other is St Louis I think, not sure as I am doing most of this from memory so I will grab you a website for more info later.
I remember craning my neck to look up at the massive dome and squinting as the sun reflected back into my eyes.
There were no queues to get into the church and with it being a Sunday morning, I was quite surprised. Mass was taking place so we had to be extra quiet and tip toe around. Inside you have a fantastic, colourful mosaic of JC above the cloister or place where the bloke in the dress stood, whatever they call it. People were buying candles and lighting them in memory of loved ones, but w had done that yesterday at Notre-Dame so we politely turned down the request this time.
STRANGE BUT TRUE FACT; Sherry (My wife) lit a candle in the Notre-Dame for her mother who passed away 2 years ago. When we returned home, there was a cross lying next to the bed and it was the same cross Sherry had been given from her father 22 years ago. She lost it when she was 14 and has moved house 5 times since then. It may have fallen out of something when we packed to go away and been missed then, but how spooky is that?
We walked in an anti-clockwise direction around the church looking to one side at the various places of prayer and worship and upwards to the hollow dome to where the 19 ton bell is held. The ambience of the church itself was eerie and clam, not quite like the vibrant atmosphere the Notre-Dame had, but more a solemn mood, more serious and regimented, if you follow me. The stained glass was nice but the original was blown out in WW2 so they are not quite as authentic as perhaps those elsewhere. Mind you, this church was only finished in 1914 so the windows would have had a more modern look which I am not akin to. You can access the dome itself via a separate entrance to the side of the church. The top of the dome is 200m above sea level and the second highest point of Paris next to the Eiffel Tower. No lift here though, just a steep climb up more steps and then a spiral staircase to take you to the top. We declined this as well due to the mist outside hampering the view.
The confessionals were glass booths and there were queues for those as well. Seemed a lot of people like to repent their sins here, I am not a believer though so I just ambled past the uncleansed patrons and took in the fine carved wood, sculptured pillars and general décor in the church. They had a manger set out with the full puppet works of JC and the likes, the children liked it but I found it a bit tacky if I ma honest.
We left the church after about 15 minutes of viewing and then walked down the steps through the garden which gave a magnificent view back up to the church and all her splendour. Again, these steps are steep and plentiful but there is a cliff lift similar to the ones in Bournemouth and Scarborough which can be used free if you have the day pass from the Metro.
The things we did not see were the crypt and the view from the Dome, but the mist lifted as we left so we sat in the garden for a while and mulled over the view before walking down to central Paris and her coffee houses.
My advice to anyone who visits this place is that ensure you have decent walking shoes and a bit of tolerance for climbs, but the view of both the church and Paris makes it well worth the hike and I am glad I went despite my non-conformist attitude to religion.
I've just been up to Montmartre to visit my friends new apartment/artist's atelier, and I was reminded of the glory and splendor that is a 20th century, concrete church that adorns the pinnacle of this limestone hill (425 feet high), Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart): Montmartre has a mythological religious beginning, way back in 250 AD, when the first bishop of Paris (St. Denis), was beheaded here with two other priests, Eleutherius and Rusticus. St Pierre de Montmartre, a small church at the base of Sacre-Coeur, is all that remains of a Benedictine Abbey that was founded here in 1134 (the facade was completely remodeled in the 18th Century). Two other significant churches have also been built on the incline of the hill; one is notably the first concrete church to have been built in Europe (I'm not sure if it was the first in the world) - St Jean de Montmartre (1904), and the second began life as the main church of Montmartre, but was deemed too small, too discreet - and so the work on Sacre-Coeur began. The building commenced in 1876, but was not finished and consecrated until 1919; the architectural style alludes to a rather more ancient monument, and even most Parisians can not discern its real age. A plethora of architects were involved in its design (including Abadie and Magne), and it has a curious character that calls upon the influences of Romanesque, Byzantine and Oriental structures and decoration. There are four smaller surrounding domes to the central larger one, all of which recall the Indian/Asian influence. Behind, there stands a square bell tower that is 275 feet high and contains a bell weighing in at nineteen tons (like Big Ben, the bell has a name -Savoyarde - which means it came from the Eastern part of the Alsace/Lorraine territory in France). As you approach the church from the front, you will notice two large equestrian statues on either side of the three main arches; these are of King Louis the Blessed and
St. Joan of Arc - they add to the aged appearance of the church, as their blue/green tincture pours down the front facade. The concrete bones of the church have been beautified by limestone from around Paris, so the rest of the church shines in white Inside the tone is hushed and somber; the church is very dimly lit by a magnitude of candles left in offering (mostly to statues of Marie and Jesus, but also other saints). The smaller candles (or nightlights as most corner shops call them) are to be used only after an offering of ten francs is deposited in the collection box (about one pound). The larger candles will set you back fifty francs (five pounds), so be wary before you go grabbing your lighter. The dimensions of the interior of the church are really quite impressive: When a tourist accidentally drops his or her camera, the noise resounds with deep and spooky tones. Which reminds me, NO cameras, NO mobile telephones and NO video recorders - however touristic the area, this is still a very serious church, where people are always in prayer or meditation. The stained glass windows give you a clue to the real age of the church, as they are definitely early 1900's. The rest of the decoration is classical; the statues, mosaics and paintings are elaborate and gilded. The most impressive of all of these is the mosaic of Jesus Christ, which greets you from the inside of the large dome as you enter Sacre-Coeur (behind the alter), and has those Mona Lisa eyes that never leave you, no matter where you are in the church. On the left hand side is a small bookshop. There is also a large TV screen that is used for the Mass (and the masses) when the place is packed, and on the right, a little shop that sells postcards, crucifixes and other religious paraphernalia: This used to be a haven for really tacky glow in the dark statues, but has gone, unfortunately, upmarket with its merchandise. The church has a plaque that celebrates
the fact that thirteen bombs fell on Montmartre during the second world war: The bombs fell in an almost linear pattern to the left of Sacre-Coeur; not one of them killed or injured anyone, and there was, spectacularly, no damage to the church. You can also visit the crypt of Sacre-Coeur, or climb up to the heady heights of the dome - for a price. I have never done either. The most magical moment in the church is for Christmas Midnight Mass: The place is throbbing with people; the event is always multi cultural - many Asians, Indians and Africans frequent the church as this is the 18th arrondissement, and the amount of immigrants (including myself) is high. Normal Midnight Mass is still pretty impressive, and it is an enchanting moment to stare out over Paris as Gregorian chants and Latin psalms caress your ears. Once outside, if you turn your back on the church, you are delighted with an almost panoramic view of Paris (yes, you can see the Eiffel Tower from here), and an assortment of street sellers plying their wares. Just say no, they may insist, but if you resist one, the others will usually leave you alone as well. Many of the younger Parisians hang out on the steps of Sacre-Coeur during the long summer nights - If you are going to have a problem with pickpocketing, then this is when it will occur. The surrounding area has been a long established artistic centre of Paris: The Place Du Tertre takes extreme advantage of this, by housing rather poor artists that are willing to paint your portrait and sell their lurid landscapes to all the tourists - avoid them at all costs. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops here: The prices are high, and do expect to pay through the nose, even is it is for a simple coffee - You have been warned. Slightly further down, you can find a couple of 'Irish' pubs. So if you, like me, yearn for a smooth, cold Guinness and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps after all th
at sight seeing, head this way for a few home comforts. As you are in this neck of the woods, why not stop off at Montmartre cemetery? Not visited as often as Pere Lachaise (Oscar Wilde, Serge Gainsbourg and Jim Morrison), this is the final resting place of Emile Zola (J'accuse), Degas, Alexandre Dumas and Russian ballet dancer, Nijinsky. Another little treasure hidden on the hill, is the vineyard of Montmartre. Unfortunately I don't know much about it, but it is the only 'working' vine in Paris. There is also a small cinema/theatre nearby (Cine 13): I?ve only just discovered it myself, and on Sundays you can relax with a bottle of Champagne in real Music Hall style, while watching slightly arty films. This is a true gem to be found in Paris; the theatre is draped in lush red velvet, and one has the choice of parking one's derriere in either armchairs or settees. The rest of the week (except Tuesdays), the theatre is host to a small theatrical performance, before a surprise film is introduced with a free bottle of Champagne. If you get the chance, I really suggest you make a booking (preferably a week before you want to go), you won't be disappointed. Tel: 0142511379. Email: Cine13@lesfilms13.fr Descending further, and you will find some very groovy goods on offer; this is quite an elite part of Paris and the shops cater for the young, arty crowd that live in the area. There are plenty of clothes, accessories, shoes and antiques (mainly 20th century kitsch and the such like - if you are looking for something older, I suggest you go to St Ouen flea market at the weekend) for you to browse through. Right at the bottom of Montmartre is Pigalle, The Moulin Rouge (supposed birth place of the can-can, and frequently visited by Toulouse-Lautrec) and various overpriced sexually orientated establishments. This is fun to peruse if not accompanied by children, and if one is not too easily offended when the ladies of
the night (or day) proposition your husband (or yourself). On the other side is Barbes, which is really not the best place for an obvious tourist to be seen wandering through - there is a high crime rate in this area, but saying that, I lived here for two years with absolutely no violent encounters. I've done this backwards (sort of), so if you are planning to take in the sights of Montmartre next time you are in Paris, head towards the 18th quarter. You can either get off at Pigalle Metro and wander up via the shops (probably the most interesting route), or disembark at Abesses, choosing either to chance it on long and winding steps, or to ascend with ease on the funicullaire (a cable car contraption that will take the strain off your weary legs). You can also walk up from Chateau Rouge, but this is a less interesting route unless you happen to be staying in a hotel in the area (a couple of nice Thai restaurants around here). Also on that note, the best hotel in the area (and there are many), is probably the Timotel which is half way up Montmartre. The prices are middle of the road, the food is good, and the sheets are clean - what more do you want? My final advice to all those that are venturing to Paris - try your hardest not to look like the tourist you are. Hide your cameras, leave your rucksacks at the hotel, and relax. This is a beautiful city, with many riches on offer, but they are hard to enjoy when you?ve just had your wallet snatched. Bonne chance.
Although as a church Notre Dame has it for me over Sacre Coeur any day, this setting has to be seen to be believed. Inspired apparently by the Taj Mahal, anything less like a Eurpoean cathedral you'd be pushed to find, however Sacre Coeur has become one of the most quintessential parisian landmarks. Standing on a hill, if you are very lucky you might get a close view of Sacre Coeur from the plane as you take off from Charles de Gaulle, however this should definitely not be the only view you get of it, and it itself affords some of the best views of the city. Don't leave Paris without having seen it! Approach Sacre Coeur from the base of the hill, and be aware that the cheap shops around the bottom genuinely can hide some real clothing bargains among the obviously poor quality stuff, so if you have time, have a look! You can either walk up the numerous steps to the top, or alternatively, pay a relatively small amount to travel up by funicular. Whatever your preference (the steps can be gruelling!)ensure you do get up there! There is a superloo by the funicular, but it can have a huge queue, so better to wait until you use a restaurant at the top (if you are going to)but be aware that the loos there are sometimes of the french hole in the ground variety. At the top go enjoy the view.......for me it's actually more memorable than the interior of this particular church. After doing that, head into the artists square....the place de montmartre, here you can endulge your narcissistic fantasies to your hearts content and get almost any kind or style of portrait drawn. The queues for this can be long, so check out what you want and if you don't have time to wait, don't bother, or come back another time. There are some pretty OK restaurants around this area, but they do tend to be overpriced. It was here that my youngest some experienced the largest hotdog in the world ;-) Plenty of tourist shops too, and you can buy st
amps the same time you buy your postcards - most shops sell them. There are a lot of performance artists around sacre coeur - mainly mime last time we were there, and loads of street vendors trying to flog anything from watches to African jewellery. Sacre Coeur is an experience not to be missed, but if it's spirituality you're after rather than a great city sight, make sure you get to Notre Dame as well!
I have only visited to Paris once and that was 5 years ago and amidst all the lovely memories the one outstanding one was of Sacre Coeur. Looking more like some Moslem Mosque with its towering white dome overlooking the streets of Montmartre than a cathedral it just gave off an air of mystery and grandeur. We arrived just before sunset a really magical time as birds were circling, looking for their roosting place for the night. People were gathered on the many steps and looking at the stunning view over the city. Once inside I was awed by the sheer amount of people all gazing around in the semi darkness lit by many candles and dim lights, but considering the amount of people inside there was a lovely atmosphere that felt very comforting. People were lighting votive candles, saying prayers for loved ones, writing names in the healing book or just taking in the awe inspiring atmosphere. When we eventually came out, twilight was settling in, streelights were coming on and it was just magic. An unforgettable trip to Paris.
""The Sacré-Cur Basilica (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cur, "Basilica of the Sacred Heart") is a Roman Catholic basilica and popular landmark in Paris, France, dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre (Montmartre butte), the highest point in the city. The original idea of constructing a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart developed in France after the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Architect Paul Abadie designed the basilica after winning a competition over 77 other architects, but he died not long after the foundation had been laid, in 1884, and other architects continued with the work. The overall style of the structure shows heavy Romano-Byzantine influence. Many design elements of the basilica are based on nationalistic themes: the portico, with its three arches, is adorned by two equestrian statues of French national saints Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX, both executed in bronze by Lefebvre; and the nineteen-ton Savoyarde bell (one of the world's heaviest), cast in 1895 in Annecy, alludes to the annexation of Savoy in 1860.""