After spending some time at the red light district, we were climbing up a hill. We were on our way to visit the highlight of Montmartre, the Sacre Coeur.
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]History of Sacre Coeur[/heading]
The Sacre Coeur is a basilica is built in 1871 on land that was considered sacred, also the highest point in Paris. We could see the Sacre Coeur being beautifully lit up at night, from our window of our room in Paris, even when it’s so far away.
It’s history, though, is a little controversial. It was a very hard time for the French at the time. They were at war, losing thousands of men. The basilica was meant to inspire the people during tough times. However, around the same time, the Paris Commune rose (it’s a communist party, I think and the movement was highlighted in the movie Les Miserables) and began their rebellion on the hill. Much blood were shed. Once the movement was brought down, influential people commissioned the construction of the basilica as a “redemption” for the sins of those who were involved.
Today, Sacre Coeur is a icon.
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]Climbing the hill to Sacre Coeur[/heading]
One of the things I loved about visiting the Sacre Coeur, is really the journey to get there.
Going up the hill was a challenging but good experience. We were walking on cobblestones on narrow alleyways, which was surrounded by very good looking (even romantic) buildings. If you feel like having a drink, there are a couple of cafes around. If you feel like shopping, there’s plenty of specialty stores selling the nicest souvenirs.
We made it a point to avoid strangers. There are a lot of pickpockets and scammers in Paris, even more in the area.
The steps leading to the basilica is the toughest to climb. I was already depending on my inhaler then -_- If stairs don’t excite you, just get on the lift. To ride, we showed our Paris Visite pass. Else, we would’ve needed to pay for the about 30-second ride up to the hill.
This was the view at the end of the lift. We weren’t at the top yet.
There were still many more steps to climb. It got more crowded as we went up. On one level, before we reached the basilica, there was a bazaar selling different kinds of food. On the steps, too, were men singing and playing guitars loudly with amps. Like a festival.
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]Going in the Sacre Coeur[/heading]
We tried getting in. When at Montmartre we’re vigilant (considering how dubious the people there are), but at a place as crowded as the Sacre Coeur, we had to be extra vigilant. As we entered the basilica, we held on to our belongings tightly.
Admission to the basilica is free. Apparently visitors can climb up the dome for a fee, but at that time we weren’t aware. We did a tour of the Sacre Coeur and admired the building. The interior was quite grand, but was nothing compared to the religious monuments we’d seen just a few days ago. The guidebook I held onto said that because of the controversy that surrounds Sacre Coeur and its mediocre architecture, not very reflective of the French (it’s inspired by Byzantine architecture) the basilica isn’t as loved by the people, compared to other iconic monuments in Paris.
We sat down on the bench. There was something going on in there — probably a mass — but everything was in French. A staff in a tux was always there to shush the visitors and instructing them to put their cameras down, since no photographs are allowed. We could see flashes and cameras clicking anyway.
Really, who would go here to pray with so many distractions -_-
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]Highlight of Sacre Coeur[/heading]
To me, the real highlight of this visit is the view of the city, especially during sunset. The Sacre Coeur may not be mind-blowingly beautiful — but go for the view. It’s perfect and totally worth the climb.
Read more about the Sacre Coeur.