Sacré Coeur Montmartre

Paris  -  Montmartre

Discover the Sacré Coeur and the artists' village 

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One of the great free tourist attractions of Paris is "Montmartre". Lying in the 18th district of modern central Paris, the "mount of Mars" or "mount of the martyrs" (there is some doubt about the origin of the name) is the highest point in the city, culminating at a height of 130 metres or 430 ft. above sea level.... and quite a bit higher for those who pay to climb the 300 steps to the dome of the Sacré Coeur basilica.


No trip to Paris  - and certainly no once-in-a-lifetime trip - is complete without a visit to Montmartre, the hill overlooking northern central Paris, famous for its dazzling basilica and its lively narrow streets thronged with bistros, restaurants and artists. After the Eiffel tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame cathedral, Montmartre is one of the four must-see locations of Paris.

How to get to Montmartre:

Montmartre steps
The steps up to Montmartre from the top of the rue de Steinkerque. The funiculaire is to the left.
The area known as Montmartre is located in  the 18th arrondissement or district of Paris, due north of the Louvre. It can be easily reached by metro, stations  Abbesses (line 12), Pigalle (lines 2 and 12) or Anvers (line 2).  The classic way to get up to the top of the hill of Montmartre, known in French as La Butte Montmartre,  is from the Anvers metro station. From here walk up the Rue Steinkerque until you reach the gardens at the end. From here you can either take the funicular railway up to the top, or walk up more than 250 steps to the basilica at the top. The exact number of steps depends on the path you take.
   One way or another, the higher you climb, the more the panorama over the roofs of Paris opens up below you.
   The greatest view of Paris is to be had from the top steps or from the esplanade in front of the Notre Dame basilica.

   Another easy way to get to the top of the hill is to take the Montmartrobus shuttle, a small electric city bus that runs from Pigalle metro station and up to the village on the hill (and down the other side). Normal Paris travel tickets, including day passes, are valid on this service. Services run 7/7 year long, on average every 10 - 15 minutes during the day.

What to see in Montmartre

  • The Sacré Coeur basilica is one of the emblematic monuments of Paris. It's not old by European standards, as it was built ibetween 1875 and 1914 - one of a number of white stone basilicas put up in France at the end of the nineteenth century – the other most famous one being the Basilique de Fourvière in Lyon.
       Designed by the architect Paul Abadie in the neo-romano-byzantine style popular at the time, the basilica was for some a monument to the victims of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, for others a monument to the martyrs of the revolutionary Paris "Commune".
       The interior is richly decorated, notably the apse, whose vault is decorated in 19th-century byzantine style with one of the world's largest gilded mosaics, depicting Christ in Majesty.
       Entrance to the basilica is free; there is however a charge for those who want to climb the 330 steps to the viewing gallery around the dome.
Place du Tertre - artists
    Artists and cafés vie for space on the Place du Tertre
  • Place du Tertre This is the throbbing heart of the "artists' village" of Montmartre. Lined with brasseries and restaurants and cafés, most of the square is now occupied by artists boutiques. It is here that tourists can get their portrait painted or sketched, or buy souvenir artwork. The atmosphere here is very lively and busy – but don't imagine that all the artists are Parisian. Some are, but the square attacts artists, art-students and instant-portraiteers from all over Europe and beyond. As does Paris in general.
       The "village", the narrow cobbled streets around Place du Tertre are full of more cafés and restaurants, as well as small arts and crafts shops
  • Eglise St. Pierre: this small church close to the Basilica is one of the oldest in Paris, though it has been much restored. Built between 1147 and 1470, the church fell into disrepair in the 19th century before being renovated between 1900 and 1905. The nave contains some very early mediaeval sculpted capitals and possibly some even older capitals recovered from the Roman temple of Mars that once adorned the hill of Montmartre. 
  • Le Musée de Montmartre 8 - 14 rue Cortot. The Montmartre Museum occupies a large 18th century house which was once home to some of the artists with whom Montmartre is most intimately associated. Renoir painted here, as did Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo, Othon Friesz, Raoul Dufy and several more. In the museum visitors can see Valadon's studio, as well as paintings, drawings, posters and other works of art that tell the story of Montmartre in its artistic heyday. The enclosed gardens have been restored to appear as they did in Renoir's time.
       The museum gardens overlook what remains of  the Montmartre vineyards, which still produces several hundred bottles of "Paris" wine each year - more as a curiosity than as a good wine.
  • Espace Dali.  11 rue Poulbot - Close to the Place du Tertre, the Dali Museum celebrates the life and work of the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. With 300 original works, mostly sculptures and engravings, this is the largest collection of Dali's works in Paris.
  • Moulin rougeThe Moulin Rouge and Pigalle.  While strongly associated with Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge and other cabarets are not on the Montmartre hill, but below . A popular tourist attraction, the Moulin rouge is located on the Boulevard de Clichy, just outside the entrance to the Blanche metro station.
    ► Click  for Moulin Rouge bookings

Stay in Montmartre?
If you want to stay in Montmartre, there are quite a few hotels in the district, but most of them are at the foot of the hill, which makes them closer to the metro stations. Up at the top, in the area of the Place du Tertre, there are no hotels. There is however a four-star hotel on the hilltop, just to the east of the Basilica - the hotel Montmartre Mon Amour
  The closest you can get to staying in the village are a couple of hotels near the Abbesses metro station, the ** Regyns Montmartre  and  150 metres further up the hill the *** Timotel Montmartre.  Close to the foot of the Funicular is the family-run *** Mom'Art boutique hotel and spa.

  For a much fuller choice of hotels and apartments, go to Hotel search and key in Montmartre into the search box.

Links to main Paris tourist attractions:
The Eiffel Tower,    Notre Dame Cathedral,    Sainte Chapelle,    The Champs Elysées,    Arc de Triomphe,    The Louvre,    the Orsay museum,    Seine river boats,    the Latin Quarter,   Moulin Rouge,    Pompidou Centre, test

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Montmartre portrait artist
You can get your portrait sketched on the Place du Tertre  in about half an hour

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Warning: there are real artists and scam artists: The steps up to the Sacré Coeur and the narrow streets of Montmartre, thronged as they often are with tourists and visitors, don't just attract artists. They are also attract their fair share of  scam artists and worse. Don't fall victim to card sharks, tricksters, dubious street vendors, pickpockets or sob-stories. Don't fall for any of the scams involving jewellery, signing a petition, donating to a charity... If, as a tourist,  you're approached anywhere in Paris (or any other tourist city for that matter) for any of these purposes, don't fall for it, however genuine they may appear. Bona-fide charities, petitions and even street vendors other than souvenir sellers don't go badgering tourists in crowded locations.
Montmartre street
Cafés and small shops abound in the small streets in the village on the hill

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