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How to Visit Sacre Coeur in Paris (The Ultimate Guide)

Want to visit Sacre Coeur in Paris but are not sure how to plan your visit, then this article is for you!

Visiting Sacre Coeur is one of the highlights of a trip to Paris whether it’s for religious reasons or to appreciate its impressive architecture. 

front view of Sacre Coeur

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But how exactly should you plan your visit? As a Paris local, I am here to show you everything you need to know about Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre.

From its historical and religious significance, architectural beauty, and tips to help you plan your visit. 

A Complete Guide To Visiting Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris

History and Significance Of Sacre Coeur in Paris

view of sacre coeur from Square Louise-Michel
View of Sacre Coeur from Square Louise-Michel.

Officially known as Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the Sacré-Cœur has a history as fascinating as its architecture.

It was built in 1875 after France’s defeat during the Franco-Prussian War as a way of atoning for their sins which they had been punished for by losing the war. If you were wondering why was sacre coeur built, I hope this answered your question.

But why Montmartre you may ask? This choice was symbolic! Montmartre which translates to “Mountain of Martyrs”, is believed to be the place where Saint Denis, the patron saint of Paris, was executed by the Romans.  

steps leading to sacre coeur

Also, it was elevated which meant that it could be seen from most parts of the city, making it a perfect location for a Basilica that would be dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus Christ.

One important fact that I feel compelled to share is that since 1885, there has been uninterrupted prayer at this basilica, cementing its importance as a religious and pilgrimage destination.

Read more: Fun facts about Sacre Coeur

Architectural Highlights of Paris Sacré Coeur

sacre coeur with statue view

This basilica isn’t your typical Parisian church. Instead of the Gothic style you see in a lot of other famous Parisian churches, like Notre Dame, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, or Sainte-Chapelle, Sacré-Cœur shows off a beautiful Romano-Byzantine style. Think rounded arches and grand domes. 

One of the coolest things about Sacré-Cœur is the stone used. Made from travertine stone, this stone is almost like it has a superpower.

Behind view of Sacre Coeur
Behind view of Sacre Coeur

It’s self-cleaning meaning that when it rains, the stone reacts with the water and sort of cleans itself, which is why the basilica always looks so white and stunning, no matter the weather — well, except behind the building!

And there’s more. When you look at the front of the basilica, you’ll see sculptures and equestrian statues of French national saints, Joan of Arc, and King Louis. 

Sacre Coeur Paris Interior

mosaic inside sacre coeur
Mosaic inside Sacre Coeur

While the exterior architecture is imposing, the interior is equally impressive. 

From the central Mosaic dubbed Christ in Majesty which is also the biggest in France, stained glass windows, various chapels, a beautiful golden sculpture of Jesus to whom the church is dedicated, the baptismal font, the organ which is considered a national monument, to so many other things to see. 

statue of jesus inside sacre coeur
Statue of Jesus inside Sacre Coeur

The interior is just so beautiful I recommend taking some time to fully appreciate all its corners. 

The crypt of Sacre Coeur Basilica

Visiting Parisian churches is one of the best things to do in December in Paris.
Inside the crypt of Sacré Cœur Basilica

Before leaving, take some time to explore the crypt which is just below the Sacre Coeur. 

It also has several chapels, stained glass windows, and various religious garments to admire.

View From Sacre Coeur

Eiffel Tower view from Sacre Coeur
Eiffel Tower view from Sacre Coeur

The highlight of any visit to this basilica is no doubt to climb up the 292 steps to its dome to get some of the most stunning views of Paris.

The climb is a bit steep so you might want to take your time with them or even choose not to go if you’re not in the best shape physically. 

But if you can brave yourself, you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of Paris. You’ll see the Eiffel Tower, Paris roofs, Invalides, Notre Dame cathedral, the towers of the basilica itself, and more. 

If you choose not to climb the tower, you’ll still have a nice view of Paris from the steps in front of the basilica.

View of Sacre Coeur from Square marcel bleustein blanchet
View of Sacre Coeur from Square marcel bleustein blanchet

Another place you shouldn’t miss while still here is Square marcel bleustein blanchet.

It is just behind the basilica, and while most people stick to the front, this little square offers a quiet pace and a unique view of the Sacre Coeur.

Practical Tips For Visiting Sacre Coeur In Paris

How to Get to Sacre Coeur

Montmartre Funicular
Montmartre Funicular

To get to the Sacre Coeur, take either Metro Line 2 (M2) and stop at Anvers or Metro Line 12 (M12), and stop at Abbesses, although the former is much closer.

From there, you can either climb to the basilica or take the funicular at the bottom of the hill. You’ll just need a NEW metro ticket for it.

If you reach the top of the hill and you still don’t want to walk, you can take the small tourist train which comes with commentary on famous attractions in the area.

And if you have reduced mobility, you access the basilica via an elevator at 35, rue du Chevalier de la Barre, located at the back of the building from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm. 

Sacre Coeur basilica tickets

Steps to the top of Sacre Coeur

Visiting the Sacre Coeur is free but you’ll have to pay 8 euros to climb the dome. You can purchase this ticket on-site!

There are no guided tours allowed inside the basilica but if you want to learn more history about it, you can book this Montmartre walking tour which includes a brief about Sacre Coeur.

What to wear to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre

Since it’s a church, wear modest clothes to be respectful.

I should also note that this entire area is hilly and full of steps so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes. 

Paris Sacre Coeur Opening Hours

The basilica is open every day (even on public holidays) from 6 AM to 10:30 PM! As for the dome, it opens from 10 AM to 5.30 PM in winter with the last entry being at 5:00 PM and 9 AM to 7:00 PM in the summer.

view from sacre coeur
View from Sacre Coeur

What is the best time to visit Sacre Coeur Basilica

You can visit the basilica any time, but I recommend visiting either in the morning before 11 AM or in the evening.

On my last visit, I entered the church at 10 AM with barely any queue, and by the time I came out at around 11 AM or so, the queue was super long. It looked like it could take an hour to get in!

Be aware of pickpockets or any other scams

I’ve seen several scams around Sacre Coeur so you’ll need to be vigilant. The common ones include; women coming to you to sign a random paper, hoping they will scam you into paying money after that. Just say no and move on.

Same for someone being overly nice and giving you free bracelets! No, they’re not free!

things to do near Sacre Coeur in Paris

The sinking house of Montmartre
The sinking house of Montmartre

When you’re done visiting Sacre Coeur, you can explore nearby attractions like,

  • The Sinking House
  • Place du Tertre
  • La Maison Rose, and many other landmarks.

You can also check out my detailed post on the best things to do in Montmartre.

Final Thoughts On Visiting Sacre Coeur in Montmartre

That’s it guys! I hope you enjoyed exploring Sacre Coeur in Paris with me.

And if you have any questions about this French monument or Paris for that matter, be sure to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!

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Want to visit Sacre Coeur in Paris but are not sure how to plan your visit, then this article is for you! How to visit Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris | Famous church in Montmartre | Sacre Coeur in Montmartre| What is the best time to visit Sacre Coeur | How to get to Sacre Coeur Basilica | Tips for visiting Sacre Coeur in Montmartre| what to do in Montmartre| best things to do in Montmartre | Sacre Coeur opening hours.  

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