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A mountain at the bottom of someones garden!
Basilique du Sacre Coeur (Paris, France)
Member Name: angusreid
Basilique du Sacre Coeur (Paris, France)
Date: 16/12/05, updated on 16/12/05 (555 review reads)
Advantages: Look at the photo above, it is twice as beautiful.
Disadvantages: Steps, lots of them. Ambience is not pleasant.
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 it’s 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.
Summary: Lots of steps to conqeur this one but well worth it.
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