Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Photo: © AFP, Guillaume Clement, MAP, AFP, Eric Piermont
Even if you’ve never been to Paris, there are some landmarks you’ll probably know by heart: the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur. The white church with its gleaming white domes and campanile is crowning the butte Montmartre, the only real hill we have in Paris, and it has been painted by nearly every French artist. Wherever you are, whenever you climb up some stairs to take advantage of a nice viewpoint, far in the North you’ll see Sarcré-Coeur reigning over Paris.
Is it beautiful though? Honestly, it’s not. And strangely the Parisians don’t like it all. It’s too exuberant in their eyes, too theatrical and it looks like fake for them. In spite of its appearance, it’s not a 12th-century Byzantine church, but in reality a much younger one. Started at the end of the 19th century, finished in 1885, it was built after the Catholic Church raised a public subscription to atone for what they called the crimes of the Commune.
The mix of French and Byzantine architecture by Paul Abadie received nothing but scorn and ridicule. The Parisian poet Jacques Roubaud compared it to a big baby’s bottle for the angles to suck. And the famous writer Emile Zola declared it “the basilica of the ridiculous”.
Malicious tongues even claim that the only exciting thing about Sacre-Coeur is the view from its top – and to be honest, I agree: Make a short visit to the Cathedral, enjoy the stunning mosaics inside and then head directly to the west flank where you’ll find the entrance to the gateway and take care to have some change for the automatic ticket machine by the turnstile. From the top, which is almost as high as the Eiffel Tower, you can enjoy one of the most stunning views on Paris. Pinch yourself and say you are here: Lord of all you survey!Sacré-Coeur Parvis du Sacré Coeur 75018 Paris Tel. +33(0)1 53 41 89 09 Open from 9am-7pm (April to October) and 9am-5pm in winter View from the top: April, May, September and October from 9:30am-6:45pm, in Summer, June to August, from 9:30am-8pm, November to March from 9:30ym-5pm, ticket: 6€, 4-16 years 4€ – free for children under 4.