The Sacré-Cœur in Paris, icon of Montmartre
The Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur overlooks Montmartre hill. Its magnificent architecture makes it one of the most emblematic monuments of the city. As you will have understood, it is a must-see place. Hop-on in our Paris Discovery bus tour to visit it!
What is the history of the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre?
The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie and completed in 1923. Perched high, and visible from much of the city, at night it seems to appear around every street corner. Its unique architectural style and the spectacular view it offers on the City of Light make it a treasure of Paris' heritage. But do you really know the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur?
A religious building
Completed in 1923, construction of the basilica was prompted by the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. For some religious men, this military defeat was linked to the French Revolution, and its resulting moral degradation – a divine punishment of sorts.
The idea of building a basilica on the hill of Montmartre emerged. The aim was to create a place dedicated to the heart of Christ, also called the Sacré-Cœur of Jesus, for repentance. As Montmartre had always been a place of worship, the top of the hill was the ideal location.
A national vow was then established. The project would quickly gain momentum, and in 1879, the National Assembly recognized it as a building of public usefulness, thus facilitating its construction.
The foundation stone was laid in 1875, which marked the beginning of the construction. Almost 40 years later, just as the consecration was supposed to take place, the First World War broke out. It was not consecrated until 1919.
Today, the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur remains an important place of worship, frequented by both believers and visitors.
A symbol of Montmartre
The basilica’s unique architecture immediately comes to mind when we think of Montmartre, a walking district with many restaurants and bars.
It was first designed by Paul Abadie, then six other architects took over to complete the building.
Built in the Roman-Byzantine style, Sacré-Cœur has a different look from other churches in the capital city. Eighty-five meters long and eighty-three meters high, it is recognizable by its imposing dome, its round towers, and its white stone, which contrast with the rest of the city’s architecture.
Inside, there is a crypt, which is accessible to visitors, as well as impressive religious paintings, and many stone statues.
The basilica has 5 five bells, including the Savoyarde, which is the largest bell in the world!
What to do at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart?
There's so much to see at this Paris landmark. Visit every corner of the basilica, including the dome. Try to attend mass, service or Lent to get the most out of the basilica.
First of all, take the time to explore the basilica. On your way, you will have the opportunity to admire the treasures hidden within its walls, such as the mosaic in the choir, paying tribute to the Catholic Church and to France, or the great organ, for example.
The themed tours "animals", "angels", "symbols", "scriptures", "prayer" and "characters" will help you discover the basilica from a different angle and reveal all its secrets.
The most courageous among you will be able to climb the 300 steps leading to the dome of the basilica. Be careful, some of the steps can be difficult to climb, but the effort is well worth it. You can enjoy a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic view of Paris.
Access to the dome is open daily from 10am to 7pm. Tickets are available for purchase on site.
Masses and services
Although it is a magnificent monument to visit, it is first and foremost a religious place. If you arrive at the right time, you can attend a mass, provided you respect the ceremony of course. Stay quiet and don't take photos to enjoy this exceptional moment.
There are masses every day: Monday to Friday, at 7am, 11am, 6.30pm and 10pm with an extra mass at 3pm on Fridays; Saturday, at 7am, 11am and 10pm and Sunday, at 7am, 11am, 6pm and 10pm. You can also attend a service from Tuesday to Sunday, at 8am, 6pm (4pm on Sundays) and 9.30pm.
Lent takes place until 8 April 2023 at the Basilica. It is a religious event referring to the period of prayer, fasting and abstinence before Easter. Several activities are planned during this period such as masses and teachings.
How to visit the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur?
The Basilica is located at the top of the hill of Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.
With our Discover Paris bus tour, you can stop at the 1 Printemps / Galerie Lafayette stop on the blue route and head to the Madeleine stop to take metro line 12. It is accessible via several metro lines (lines 12 and 2: the stops of Pigalle, Jules Joffrin, Antwerp, and Abbesses). You will have to walk a bit from the metro to reach the monument, or you can take the Montmartrobus.
To climb the hill, you can take the stairs, which will take you 128 meters above sea level, or use the funicular off to the side. There is access for people with reduced mobility.
The basilica is open from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm, so you can watch the sunset over Paris on a summer evening. The visit is free. There is lift access for people with reduced mobility. There is no guided tour, but you can purchase a small guide booklet available in several languages to guide you on your visit. Please note that taking photographs is not permitted in the Basilica.
Paris is full of remarkable monuments and wonderful landscapes. If you're interested in such places, we have just what you need! Learn more with our articles about other amazing places in the capital, such as the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower.