Sacre Coeur sits on a hill in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It is a basilica and one of France’s most important Roman Catholic structures. Built in Roman Byzantine style, it was constructed with Château-Landon stones (travertine) which react to rainwater – when it rains, the stones secret calcite, which act like bleach and keep the stones white even in the polluted air of Paris.
The steps wind around and up each side of Sacre Coeur, and there is a grassy area between the two stairways leading up to the basilica (many will recognize them from the film Amélie). Two equestrian bronze statues of King Saint Louis IX and Joan of Arc adorn the exterior portico and a magnificent mosaic depicting Christ, the largest mosaic in France, decorates the interior ceiling.
Admission to the basilica is free and is open each day from 6:00 a.m. – 10.30 p.m. There are guided tours of the crypt and dome as well between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and the fees are 8 euros for adults and 5 euros for children 4-16 years. For those not wishing to tour both the crypt and dome, the fee for the crypt is 3 euros for adults and 2 euros for children 4-16 years or the fee for the dome is 6 euros for adults and 4 euros for children 4-16 years.
After taking a taxi, bus or the metro to the basilica there is a funicular to carry those unable (or who do not wish) to climb the stairs up the hill to the left of Square Villette – then it’s a short walk to the basilica.
Whether viewing the City of Lights from the front of the basilica or its dome, the second highest point in Paris after the Eiffel Tower, you will be glad you came. Sitting at 400 meters above the city, Sacre Coeur Basilica provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris by day, and a stunning view of the City of Lights by night.