Sacré Cœur Basilica: FAQs

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The great white Basilica with its ovoid  void Dome atop Montmarte (“The Balcony of Paris”) offers one of the best views Paris. Once on top you have free access to one of the most unusual places of worship in Paris. There are retreats organized, masses for all worshipers and a chance to hear an excellent choir.  Also see: mosaics; statues; a crypt; a bell tower and that special dome (which is what gives Sacre Coeur its nickname, the “Alabaster Wedding Cake).

Address:35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre
75018
Paris, France

Hours:
Daily from 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Dome and Crypt: 9:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost:
€5.00 entrance (Crypt and Dome)
Free for children under 6 years

Minimum Time to Allow:
(From Paris Center, allow, minimum, 2 hours, for the church, alone.)
Why? It takes at least 30 minutes to get to the Butte from the 1st arrondissement, so expect a one hour round trip in travel, alone.  Add extra minutes for waiting for the bus or metro. To climb the stairs will cost another 7 minutes, if you have good legs.  Unless you see a mass or go to confession, the church visit, itself, can probably be done in 30 minutes.

Getting There:See the REAL Europe with Rail EuropeBuilt on the Mount of Martyrs it’s easy to reach by on foot if you’ve great thigh muscles. Or you can go by bus, drive, climb the stairs from the métro or take a funicular at the cost of a single Metro ticket.

  • Métro:
    • Anvers
    • (Dirctions from Métro: Walk towards the dome, climb the stairs or take the funicular to the left of Square Villette.)
  • Buses:
    • Numbers 30, 54, 80, 85

Parking:
Blvd. de Clichy, Rue Custine
(Caution: Tour buses often line the streets at night or during tourist season. Cars are not suggested. Taxis may leave you off at the bottom of the butte and you’ll still have to walk up.)

Tours:
There are many tour companies that will transport you to and from Sacre-Coeur. There are special cars for the disabled (usually free). Tours cost approximately €25.00, and usually include other sights.

L’Open Tour:
Tel; 42 66 56 56

Cityrama:
Tel : 42 60 30 14

Parisbus:
Tel : 42 88 92 88

Paris Vision:
Tel : 42 60 31 25

Disabled/Handicapped:
RATP Voyages Accompagnes    
21 Blvd Bourdon
75004
Free door to door service.
Tel ahead for bookings. 
Tel:  49 59 96 00 
(6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. / Monday – Friday) 

Offered:

  • Daily masses, Choir rehearsals – 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
  • Special events – Tel: 53 41 89 00
  • For processions, weekend retreats and special masses – Tel: 53 41 89 09
  • Broadcasts: Radio Notre-Dame – 400 p.m. every Sunday
  • Confessionals daily –  
    • 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    • 12:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
    • Entrance by voluntary donation

Statuary:

    • Outside at entrance: Joan of Arc; St. Louis in bronze
    • Christ over the main doors (Basilica’s most important statue)
    • Bronze doors, sculptured in relief, illustrates life of Christ and Last Supper.

Interior (no cameras allowed)

  • Don’t Miss: Byzantine mosaic of Christ (1912-22) dominates
  • Don’t Miss: Crypt Vaults  (Films shown here)
  • Don’t Miss: Bronze doors with relief sculptures in the portico    entrance
  • Chancel vault
  • Virgin Mary and Child (Renaissance – style silver)
  • Two statues in the rear of the dome
  • Bell tower (Built in 1895; 83 meters high; contains one of the heaviest bells in the world at 18.5 tons – clapper is 1,900 lbs.)

Toilets:
At the bottom of the church on the right are public toilets; you must tip.

Caution: The area around the front entrance is often crowded with people sitting on the stairs and admiring the city, especially during sunset. The view is splendid. There are street entertainers, mimes and magicians. They are harmless and often fun. There are a great many vendors selling knock-offs of bags, clothing, toys, etc. Be cautious – there are also many seedy and questionable characters looking to pick pockets (especially while a tourist is engaged in bartering with the vendors). Best to ignore the vendors, as they are there illegally (watching them fold up their wares and move on when the police arrive is a sign of their illegal activity); and avoid the vendors in or around the métros; instead, after your tour, head to any of the number of open souvenir shops below. Or walk to the right of the exit towards Place du Tertre, and find something for everyone.

Our Opinion:
We heartily recommend Sacre-Coeur Basilica as a religious visit and a hot tourist spot. Not only is this house of worship unique, but it’s extremely popular. After the top of the Eiffel Tower, there is no higher place from which to see the city.  And, as Sacre-Coeur is so high and white, you can see it from almost anywhere in Paris.

The Façade:
As you approach the church from the métro, you pass hoards of discount clothing shops, souvenir sales and food stops. At the base is a beautiful antique Carousel (used in the film Amélie). Atop the Butte (the hill of Montmartre) is not only the Sacre Coeur, but also Place Du Tertre (where the artists wait to do your portrait), and the ancient St Peters church on the square offers alternate masses and a chance to peer into a house of worship dating back 850 years. Sacre Coeur, at the very top of the butte, on the other hand is a more recent addition to a city of churches. It was conceived during the Franco Prussian War (1870-71) when the Prussians occupied Paris. Two businessmen vowed that if they ever lived to see Paris saved from this enemy, they would devote their money and energies to the building of the basilica and consecrated to the heart of Christ. The war ended and in 1875 work began. By 1914, the two countries were at war again just as the basilica was being completed. The consecration of a unique Roman-Romanesque style basilica took place in 1919 at the war’s end on what had once been a lime quarry. One of the reasons Sacre Coeur is so chalky white is lime deposits seep out when it rains.

Best Time to Go:
Sunrise or Sunset


Journalist reporting on Sacre Coeur: Arnie Greenberg

* For the sake of those who are going through search engines to look for information on Sacré Cœur, we have omitted the proper accents throughout the article; we are assuming that most Americans do not type the accents while doing searches, and we want the information to be easily accessible for you.

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