Photo: Beautiful landscape/Shutterstock

This Famous Parisian Church Is Open 24/7 to Maintain 130 Years of Nonstop Praying

Paris Religion Insider Guides Art + Architecture
by Morgane Croissant May 9, 2023

The most famous church in Paris is undoubtedly Notre-Dame, but since the terrible fire of April 15, 2019, it’s been closed and tourists to the French capital have to make do with the second-most popular one: the Sacré-Coeur. Rarely referred to by its full name, La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre), this beautiful religious building shouldn’t be treated like a consolation prize — it’s a must-see, no matter what. And to visit, you need to put in some physical efforts and break a sweat because it’s located on the highest point in all of Paris.

Where is the Sacré-Coeur in Paris?

The Sacré-Coeur is located in the charming neighborhood of Montmartre in Paris, in the 18th arrondissement of the city. Montmartre is a very touristy area of the French capital and is also a gathering spot for artists. The Sacré-Coeur is built on the Montmartre Hill, the highest point in all of Paris.

The exact address of the basilica is: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris

How do I get to the Sacré-Coeur in Paris?

Unless you’re staying nearby and can easily walk to the basilica, the easiest way to get there is by taking the metro. The nearest metro stations are: Abbesses (metro line 12), Anvers (metro line two), and Château Rouge (metro line four), colored in dark green, blue, and purple, respectively, on the metro map of Paris.

The metro stations Abbesses and Anvers are the closest to the basilica, only a seven-minute walk. Note that the journey on foot to the Sacré Coeur is uphill and involves stairs. If you have reduced mobility, you can ride the funicular (a sort of elevator) from the bottom of the Montmartre Hill to the basilica for 1.5 minutes. It is available seven days per week, from 6 AM to 12:45 AM, and requires a simple metro ticket that cost $1.90 (2.10 €).

How long does it take to climb to the Sacré-Coeur?

Stairs that lead to the Sacré Coeur in Paris

Photo: Mistervlad/Shutterstock

There are 270 steps from the bottom of the Montmartre Hill on rue Foyatier to the basilica. The time it takes you to climb those steps depend on your level of fitness and your enthusiasm at seeing this magnificent church, but most people climbs them in around 15 minutes. No matter how much you huff and puff, the reward at the top is very much worth the effort.

When was the Sacré-Coeur built?

The Montmartre Hill has been a place of worship for centuries, much before the construction of the basilica. A chapel dedicated to Saint Denis is believed to have existed on the hill as early as the fifth century, followed by an abbey and a martyrium (a place where relics of martyrs are kept). The name of the neighborhood itself, Montmartre, means “the Mount of the Martyrs”.

The construction of the basilica started in 1875, after France lost the war against Prussia, and was completed in 1914, just before the First World War. It was consecrated in 1919.

Why is the Sacré-Coeur so famous?

Inside the Sacré Coeur in Paris. The Sacré Coeur is home to the largest mosaic in France

Photo: Beautiful landscape/Shutterstock

Besides its grand architecture, the basilica is located on the highest point in the city, the Montmartre Hill, from where views of Paris are exceptional, making it a very popular venue for tourists. Also, the ceiling of the basilica is home to the largest mosaic in France (it is over 5,000 square feet), a sight you don’t want to miss.

The Sacré-Coeur has been the site of uninterrupted prayer dedicated to Jesus Christ for 130 years, making it a very special place for Christians. You can sign up to participate in this chain of prayers and spend the night in a special accommodation adjacent to the basilica.

Is it free to visit the Sacré-Coeur?

Yes, it is free to visit the Sacré-Coeur, and you do not need a ticket or a reservation to enter.

Note that guided visits are not allowed in the basilica and that flash photography and videos are also forbidden.

Can you go to the top of the Sacré-Coeur?

Yes, you can go to the top of the Sacré-Coeur, inside the main dome, from where you’ll get amazing views of Paris — and it’s free. There are 300 steps and no elevator to get to the top. You can also visit the crypt, but the belfry is closed to visitors.

Is there a dress code for the Sacré-Coeur?

While there is no specific dress code to enter the Sacré-Coeur, visitors are asked to wear “decent clothing”, which usually means that shoulders need to be covered, hats must be removed, and that the hem of shorts, dresses, and skirts should land below the knees.

Hours of operation of the Sacré-Coeur

Sacré Coeur in Paris on a sunny day

Photo: JeanLucIchard/Shutterstock

The basilica is open every day, from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM. The dome and the crypt have more restricted hours, however, and are closed at lunch time.

The Sacré-Coeur is open all night to those who participate in the chain of prayers for which you need to sign up by phone or email at least 24 hours in advance.

When is mass at the Sacré-Coeur in Paris?

If you wish to attend mass at the Sacré-Coeur, you can do so from Monday to Friday at 7 AM, 11 AM, 3 PM (on Friday only), 6:30 PM, and 10 PM. On Saturday, mass is held at 7 AM and 10 PM. On Sunday mass is held at 7 AM, 11 AM, 6 PM, and 10 PM.

The best hotels near the Sacré-Coeur in Paris

If you prefer a rental to a hotel, check out Matador’s selection of the 16 best Airbnbs in Paris’ top arrondissements.

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

Timhotel Montmartre

Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia

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The Timhotel Montmartre is three-star hotel located in a quiet street, only eight minutes on foot from the basilica. The property has 59 rooms adapted for different budgets and different needs. Ask for a room with a view and you might be able to see the Sacré-Coeur from your bed. All the rooms are fitted with air conditioning and there is a buffet breakfast available for a surcharge.

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Les Ateliers de Montmartre

Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia

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Les Ateliers de Montmartre is a charming, recently renovated, guesthouse with only three suites — perfect for those who want an intimate stay. Each suite has its own living room and bathroom, and is fitted with WiFi and espresso makers. The guesthouse is located two minutes on foot from the Sacré-Coeur so you can pop in and out of the basilica any time you want. There is a free breakfast, a lovely courtyard, and an art gallery on site.

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Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacré Coeur

Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia
Photo: Expedia

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The Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacré Coeur is a modern four-star property located 18 minutes on foot from the basilica. There are 305 rooms offering premium bedding, free WiFi, and air conditioning. Some of the rooms have beautiful views of the Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower — make sure to ask for one. Breakfast is available for a surcharge, and there is a rooftop terrace, a cafe, a bar, and a garden.

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