Introducing… the Sacré-Cœur
Welcome to the latest in our Introducing series, where we give you an insight into the best-known landmarks in the city and a few fascinating facts before you visit. What trip to Paris for a French course at Accord language school would be complete without sitting on the stairs in front of the Sacré-Cœur and gazing out at the fabulous views of the French capital? Do you want to find out more about the basilica behind you? Read on!
Work on the Sacré-Cœur began in 1875 and went on for 39 years. Why did it take so long? Because it was funded by Parisians, private donations and parishes around the country, so it took a while to amass the funds they needed to build the basilica. World War I stopped it being consecrated immediately after completion so that had to wait until 1919. It is the second most visited church in Paris after Notre-Dame and the second highest point after the Eiffel Tower. As you may have guessed from the name, the Sacré-Cœur honours the “sacred heart” of Jesus Christ, his love for mankind and the sacrifice he made.
The Sacré-Cœur is home to two larger-than-life features: a mosaic and a bell. Let’s take a look at the mosaic covering the apse ceiling first: it depicts Christ with his arms outstretched in a white robe. He has a gold heart (a sacred heart) and is surrounded by worshippers and angels. It’s the biggest mosaic in France and one of the biggest mosaics in the world at 475 square metres. Next up is the bell: again, it’s one of the largest in the world. It measures 3m in diameter, weighs 3 tons and a team of 28 horses were called in to haul it up to the basilica. Known as La Savoyarde, it is only rung for special occasions (Easter, Christmas etc.) and as you’d expect from something so big, you can hear it from 10km away when it tolls!
The Sacré-Cœur doesn’t sleep when its doors close. It has hosted an uninterrupted silent prayer every night since 1885 known as the Night Adoration. Even the wars and Covid couldn’t stop it! For a small contribution, you can experience it for yourself as long as you register (48 hour advance booking advised due to limited availability). On top of that, if you join the Night Adoration for at least an hour then you can spend the night in the basilica. Once you’ve registered, you have access to the dormitory where you can sleep until a nun wakes you up to join in the night prayer. How many people can say they spent the night in one of the most famous churches in the world?!
Now you know a few interesting facts about the Sacré-Cœur, it’s time to visit it! It’s only a half hour ride on the metro or a lovely 1.5 hr walk from Accord language school after all. You can visit it for free although you need to pay to visit the crypt (3 euros) and dome (6 euros). And don’t forget that this is a place of worship where no photos are allowed… so you’ll have to buy a postcard or two!
ACCORD: 3bis rue Jean-Pierre Bloch, 75015 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 55 33 52 33
How to get to the ACCORD Tour Eiffel school:
- by Métro (underground/subway)
Nearest stations: La Motte-Picquet Grenelle (lines 6, 8 and 10) and Dupleix (line 6)
Other stations: Ecole Militaire (line 8), Bir-Hakeim (line 6)
- by Bus: line no. 86 (Champ de Mars), line no. 82 (bus stops: Champ de Mars – Suffren, and/or Général Detrie), line no. 42 (bus stop: Desaix and/or Champ de Mars – Suffren)