on March 14, 2006
Sacrè Coeur is in the Montmartre district of Paris, famous for the Moulin Rouge, among other things. It's accessible from the Abbesses station on the 12 line, just after the Pigalle station—follow the signs (a warning: you might be tempted to take the stairs up from the station instead of waiting for the elevator. You might not even notice the elevator is there. Unless you hike up mountains a lot, THIS IS A MISTAKE. It is a whole lot of steps, several stories worth. Wait for the elevator. Seriously!).The neighborhood is a good bit out of the central area, namely Ile de la Cite, but it's worth the trek, and is easy to get to by Metro.The Basilica is up on top of the hill. You can either walk up the many stairs (stairs are big in this neighborhood), or take the funicular for a few Euro. My personal preference is funicular up, stairs down. The funicular is kind of cool in its own right, so don't be afraid of being a wuss and not taking the stairs. Before going in you should take a moment to appreciate the view. You won't be able to help it, it's pretty spectacular. You can see all of Paris.A few more steps (well, more than a few) and you're at the entrance of the Basilica. I've gotten differing reports on whether you can take pictures. I've taken them myself, as have some of my friends, but others have said they were scolded and told not to. My advice: take your chances and take them quickly before someone gets angry and makes you put your camera away. At least you can get a few good shots in.The Basilica itself is lovely, particularly the mosaic ceilings and alcoves off the nave, one of which includes a detailed model of the Basilica. If you come on a weekend, you're bound to end up in the middle of a service. Unfortunately, tourists tend to ruin the atmosphere, so if you're hoping for a quiet, reverent experience, you'll probably be out of luck.The neighborhood surrounding the Basilica is also worth a good chunk of time. Artists, pubs, and funky stores are in good supply. Specifically, Place du Tertre is usually packed with artists selling paintings and doing caricatures.
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