Google rates Sacré-Cœur, Paris a whooping 4.6 out of 5. But is it worthy of all the hype? Is it worth while visiting Sacré-Cœur while in Paris or even worth a spot on your Paris itinerary? This is my review of Sacré-Cœur so that you can decide for yourself.
This article is part of my series on things to do in Paris and contains my review on Paris, Paris’ attractions and also various points of interest.
Sacré-Cœur is a functioning Catholic church and is a minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The basilica is located at the summit of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, and is also one of Paris’ major landmarks.
With a rating of 4.6 out of 5, the basilica should be one of the things to see in Paris, right?
I originally planned the basilica as a stop gap item on my itinerary. I had arrived in Paris early in the morning and had just dropped off my bags at the hotel over at Poissonnière. I decided to have a quick breakfast before walking over to Sacré-Cœur to the North. It was enjoyable walk given the cool weather. However, it always appears to be the case that the weather turns on me while I travel. The weather in Paris was pretty gloomy when I arrived and it started to drizzle (this kinda affected my photos =( all damp and gloomy). While I walked there from my hotel, the basilica is easily accessible via the Paris Metro (Anvers Station) which will put you close to the famous landmark. A copy of the Paris Metro map can be downloaded here for reference only.
As the basilica is located on a hill, it can be accessed either on foot up a long flight of stairs or by a funicular. I decided to take the flight of stairs. A word of caution for all those visiting. Do be careful of fraudsters or scammers along the way up especially at the bottom of the steps. They like to congregate there and ambush unsuspecting visitors by striking up a short conversation before tying a friendship band around your wrist and demanding payment for their service. For me, I used my umbrella to great effect as a shield between me and the group of wolves.
The walk up was manageable but it could have been better without the rain.
I don’t remember the basilica that much (i.e. meaning it was not so spectacular and/or impressionable). Or maybe it was just the sulky weather. Photos are apparently not allowed but I managed to sneak a few while I was there. I think in terms of architecture it looked grand (see photo below) but there is nothing to make it different and/or unique compared to the other major basilicas or cathedrals around Europe other than the fact that it is located on a hill and offers a good view of the surroundings. Also, as the basilica is a functioning church, entrance to Sacre Coeur is free! Yipee! But if you decide to climb up to get a better view from the dome, the ticket price is 8 Euros and gets you both the dome and also the crypt.
As a destination by itself, I don’t think its worth the hype. There are better locations you can visit while in Paris: Notre Dame and/or the Sainte-Chapelle. Both, I think, are more centrally located and easily accessible without the need to deal with the scammers that camp around the basilica. They also offer spectacular and unique photo opportunities (i.e. a more worthwhile attraction to visit while in Paris):
Place du Tertre
However, the basilica can be paired and should be paired with a nearby spot called Place du Tertre. This location makes up the uniqueness of the basilica as a part of your Paris itinerary. Place du Tertre is a square populated by the many artists earning a living in Paris. You find many artists setting up their easels there each day. Even if you are not interested in taking home a piece of art, the overall atmosphere with the street musicians makes any visit a fun and unique experience. I found myself a small cafe facing a street and sat myself down for some coffee and a chocolate éclair while I watched a musician perform on the street.
My Final Verdict
I think this can be on your itinerary and should be on it if you have time to spare. However, if time is tight, give it a miss and hit the other spots first. The basilica is located somewhat off the main path and it would be difficult to plan a convenient itinerary that takes these locations into account without making you travel a bit to fit it all in.
Signing off, from Paris with love.
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Again, just in case you missed it, my series on Paris can be found here: My Guide on Everything Paris.