Top 5 Best Moments to Climb to the Top of Sacré-Coeur
Finished in 1914, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is Paris’ most modern cathedral, and one of the city’s most emblematic monuments. This Romano-Byzantine style cathedral features an impressive golden dome, and a gorgeous interior complete with stained glass windows. In my opinion, the best aspect of the Sacré-Coeur is the unmatched view from it’s towers.
Perched high on the butte Montmartre overlooking the rest of Paris, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica provides some of the city’s most panoramic vistas. That is, if you’re willing to make the 300-step climb to the top of Sacré-Coeur!
While the climb admittedly a little tiring, the view of Paris from the top more than compensates. But if you’re wondering about the best times to visit the Sacré-Coeur, keep reading!
In this article, I’ll share with you the top 5 best moments to climb to the top of Sacré-Coeur. So whether you’re hoping to catch the perfect golden light over the city, avoid the crowds, or capture Autumn foliage from above, you’ll find an idea in this guide.
Autumn is without a doubt one of the best seasons for climbing to the top of the Sacré-Coeur, especially as a photographer. As the days grow shorter and the café terraces become heated again, the city’s numerous trees undergo an immense color change, and their various Autumnal hues contrast beautifully with Paris’ neutral-toned limestone buildings.
As a photographer myself, I can tell you that Paris puts on a gorgeous display of Fall foliage – and you can spot (almost) all of it from the top of the Sacré-Coeur! Located at 130 meters above ground, and on a hill above the city on top of that, there’s not much of Paris you can’t see from the towers here.
The late weeks of September and early weeks of October tend to be the period where the Fall foliage is most vibrant, but this varies from year to year. Generally, this window is also an optimal time to visit Paris if you want to beat the crowds. Most European children are back in school, and adults are back at work after a long Summer break; meaning the Sacré-Coeur is less crowded.
2. Golden Hour
Golden hour is defined that window of just 40 minutes to an hour before sunset, when the light in the sky is particularly golden. Highly sought-after by photographers, this particular light is extremely flattering in portraits, and compliments most any landscape shot.
For these reasons, golden hour is one of the best moments to climb to the top of the Sacré-Coeur. Plus, you can stay on and enjoy a sunset over Paris! But keep in mind, it is also one of the most popular times, so there will be more crowds.
If you have your heart set on visiting during the golden hour, you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly. I recommend that you go during low season (October-April) and scout out the line around two hours before you want to visit. The line and ticket booth can be found just to the left of the entrance to the Sacré-Coeur.
Once you get there, have a quick look at how fast the line is moving and how long it is. The length of the line all depends on the day, so this will help you to gauge how far ahead you’ll need to get in line.
Sunset is without a doubt the most popular moment to visit the Sacré-Coeur. The towers offer panoramic views, if you make that 300-step climb to the top! As the sun sinks low over Paris, crowds gather on the butte Montmartre to witness Paris’ daily magic.
No doubt that the effort to climb to the top of the Sacré-Coeur at sunset is particularly worth it. The windows at the top look out in all directions, so you can can witness the sun sink below the horizon from any direction. From the top, you’ll be able to watch the light play out over Parisian monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Notre-Dame and even the Pantheon.
Sunset is perhaps the busiest moment to visit any major monument or park in Paris, so climbing to the top of the Sacré-Coeur at sunset will require a little planning ahead. Just like if you want to visit for the golden hour, I would suggest arriving a couple hours early and scouting out the line situation.
4. Just After Sunrise
If you want to beat the crowds, just after sunrise is the best moment to climb to the top of Sacré-Coeur. Not only will you have that amazing crisp, morning light but you’ll be among the only visitors.
My advice is to pick a late Autumn or early Winter morning. Just make sure to check the weather beforehand to make sure it’s not too cold! This is low season for tourists and the sun rises is much later (around 8:30) during these months. So you can still enjoy some precious early morning hours of sleep.
Arriving at or just before sunrise is best to witness the full range of colors dance across the sky. And during low season, the towers open from 9:00 – 17:00, so if you arrive a little in advance, you should have no problem being one of the first to climb up!
The months of April and May are some of the most vibrant and beautiful in Paris. The city comes back to life after a long Winter; the days get warmer, café terraces open again and Paris bursts into bloom at seemingly every turn.
For those flower enthusiasts and photographers out there, Paris is especially charming in April, when the city’s numerous Sakura trees turn to flowery, pink clouds. The end of April and first weeks of May bring with them Magnolia blossoms, which can be spotted all over the city. Some of my favorite spots to see them are by the Eiffel Tower, in the Tuileries garden and in Montmartre. Chestnut trees are also flowering this time of year line many of the main streets in Montmartre, so the top of the Sacré-Coeur offers an excellent view.
Due to the annual flower and tree blooms this time of year, a Spring morning is one of the best moments to climb to the top of Sacré-Coeur. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to vistas of Paris in bloom. Lush green trees, Spring flowers and (hopefully) blue skies create an idea backdrop for photographing the beauty of Paris.
Well now that you know all the top 5 best moments to climb to the top of Sacré-Coeur, all that’s left for you to do plan a visit. There’s not a ton of information on the Sacré-Coeur website, so I’ve included some important practical information below to help you out.
Just a quick walk from either Abbesses or Anvers metro stations, the Sacré-Coeur is also accessible by funiculaire.
The cathedral itself is open daily from 6:00 – 22:30 and is free to visit. It is still a functioning place of worship, and there are daily masses, so please remember to be respectful during your visit.
Tickets for climbing to the top of Sacré-Coeur are sold outside at a kiosk located on the left of the cathedral entrance entrance. The entry price for adults is €5 per person, and children under 12 are free.
During the high season (May-September) the Dome is open daily from 8:30-20:30. The low season (October-April) has shorter hours, and is open from 9:00-17:00 daily.
sacré-coeur – 35 rue du chevalier de la barre 75018
Metro: Anvers, Abbesses
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about the best times to climb the Sacré-Coeur. Let me know in the comments what time you chose, or if there’s maybe a special time that I should add to the list. In any case, I hope this article has been helpful for you.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any further information about our tours, or have any questions.
See you soon in Paris!