on September 30, 2011
The Sacre Coeur is without a doubt my favourite place in the whole world. Not so much for the church itself, which is a white concrete affair, but for the area that surrounds it, Montmatre, and also for the outstanding views it offers over the city of Paris. Whenever I visit Paris, the first thing I look for on the train ride in is not, as you may expect, the Eiffel Tower, but Sacre Coeur whose white dome is a key part of the Paris skyline for me. Sitting on the top of Monmatre hill, just up from the seedy lights of the Moulin Rouge and the red light district, Sacre Coeur stands proudly against the blue sky, surrounded by the old streets and buildings that are famous in Paris.The church itself is quite ugly and is another example of a building in Paris that the locals hate. It looks like it has been made from huge white breeze blocks. Closer inspection on a gentle walk around the church will highlight some interesting features, such as the many gargoyles around the top, but for the most part it isn’t pretty. Inside it is very much the same with little to see in a large space. However the one highlight is that you can actually go up to the dome to see out over Paris. The church is open from 6am until 10.30pm and the dome from 9am until 6pm. In winter I’d recommend going up towards closing time when it has gone dark and you can look across at the lights of the city below. Entry to the church is free; going up to the dome costs five Euros.Like I said the thing I love most about this place is the area surrounding the church where Paris has not really changed over the years. In the main square around the back, artists still peddle their wares, painting landscapes, portraits and even cartoons. The streets are lined with shops selling everything from souvenirs to ice creams and in the summer months, the public areas are covered with tables and chairs for al fresco dining. In front of the church are the steps that lead up to it. Along the way you can stop and take pictures or ride the traditional carousel at the bottom. If you don’t feel like walking up the steps, you can take the funicular at the side from the price of a metro ticket (currently one Euro twenty).In short then, I think you should definitely pay a visit to the Sacre Coeur. Even if you don’t go inside, you should enjoy the quaintness of the surrounding area and the views it offers.
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