Photo Friday: La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre

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I tell people that I love climbing tall things and looking out of them. The air that high is somehow clearer. It’s like hitting the refresh button for my brain, and it reminds me how small we really are.

Whenever I visit a city, I make it my goal (my mission, really) to find the highest structure with the best panoramic view. In Paris, that structure was the La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre.

Sacré Cœur (crude American version of the French pronunciation: SAH-cray CARE) means sacred heart, and it is one of Paris’ most iconic monuments. It is located at the top of the Butte Montmartre, giving it the perfect vantage point and making it my top candidate in the search for breathtaking views.

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It is certainly a tourist hub, and not-so-subtle “salesmen” tend to take advantage of that. Zach was literally tethered to an artisan who grabbed his arm and tied on a braided bracelet (against his will) and then insisted that Zach pay for the item, which he had no interest in buying in the first place.

Once you get beyond that (and after the long walk up the hill), the spot is really quite beautiful. The Basilica is open daily from 6 am – 10:30 pm, and entrance is free.

The Roman-Byzantine style Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie, and looks vastly different from Gothic churches, like Notre-Dame. Construction of the Sacré Cœur first began in 1875, and it was consecrated in 1919.

To visit the dome (hours vary by season), there is a small fee and a long climb (it’s about 234 steps up, with no elevator), but it’s COMPLETELY worth it.

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The dome itself is 200 meters (about 650 feet) above the Seine, and you can see for 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) on a clear day. It’s the second highest point in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower.

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When you finish the climb, you’re out of breath for two reasons! (ba-dum-TSH)

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But really, the climb’s not so bad. See, we don’t look THAT winded! (It is a bit scary because the stairwell is narrow and intensely spiraled!)

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A workout and a history lesson, all in one place. What’s not to love?

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