Montmartre has captivated Bohemian artists since the Belle Epoque and continues to delight tourists today. Perched on a hilltop, Montmartre is a world apart from the rest of Paris despite being the 18th arrondissement (Abbesses Métro station).
Montmartre has a unique ambience. Joie de vivre is everywhere - at merry-go-rounds, quaint sidewalk cafés, and impromptu street performances. Tourists flock to the stunning Sacré-Coeur Basilica on the highest point of Mont Martyr, where the martyr Saint Denis was buried. The Sacré-Coeur may have a somber atmosphere inside the sanctuary, but outside, it's a joyful celebration of life. Visitors enjoy the view from the Basilica's terrace, a favorite place to pose for photos; others lounge on the grassy esplanade while listening to street musicians.
Take time to wander the stone-paved lanes and discover old churches, hidden squares, little bakeries, and inspirational ateliers. There are so many things to do here that you could spend several days exploring Montmartre.
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
The Sacré-Coeur is one of the city's great landmarks, towering above Paris from high on the Butte Montmartre. The church was created after the Franco-Prussian War as a symbol of hope. The Romanesque and Byzantine-style Basilica has multiple domes (resembling a decorative layer cake), earning it the nickname of the "Wedding Cake."
Inside, the striking Christ of the Sacred Heart ceiling mosaic welcomes worshippers into the sanctuary. The interior is illuminated with many candles giving it an aura of spirituality. The Basilica has a Grand Organ, played regularly at Mass and for a Christmas Eve Organ Concert. Otherwise the Basilica is dedicated to silent prayer.
In clear weather, it's possible to see the Notre-Dame, Centre Pompidou, and Opera House. Access to the Dome is outside the basilica on the left, up a flight of 300 steps (no elevator). The Basilica's Terrace and Esplanade also offer panoramic views.
This lively area is often filled with street musicians and people relaxing on the grass. Below the church at the Place Saint-Pierre, there is an old-fashioned carrousel (merry-go-round). To arrive at the Sacré-Coeur, walk from Place du Tertre to 35 Rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre. Alternatively, from Rue du Cardinal Dubois, take the steps or the two-minute funicular ride.