What is the best way to get to the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre?

 

Started in the late 19th century, and fully completed after World War I, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Sacred-Heart Basilica) has now turned into an unmissable Paris landmark. Proudly crowning the Montmartre Hill, like a beacon of Travertine stone in the Parisian landscape, the Sacré-Coeur leads visitors towards one of the most typical of Paris neighborhoods.

We gathered, for you, the best ways to get there, and everything there is to know to best plan your visit to the Sacré-Coeur.

As one of the main tourist attractions in Paris, the Montmartre hill, and its jewel the Sacré-Coeur basilica, are very well connected to the rest of the city with its extensive public transportation system.

Depending on your physical condition, your schedule, and – let’s face it – your motivation, there are many ways to get to the top. We describe most of them below.

Before we begin, keep in mind that our main preoccupation, here, is to get you to the Sacré-Coeur basilica. The Montmartre area is a much broader area, which can be reached using many more means of transportation – a portion of which only are detailed here. If you wish to best see Montmartre, we especially recommend you have a look at our 90-minute Montmartre Tour.

The Most Convenient Way: Riding the Metro & Funicular

Abbesses Métro station entrance

Édicule Guimard de la station Abbesses – Thomas Geoffray – Wikimedia Commons

The Metro system in Paris (operated by RATP) is a good way to get basically from anywhere to anywhere. Montmartre is no exception. With a RATP Ticket, you can access any of the following:

5 Stations at the bottom of the hill:

Lines 2 and 12 of the Metro system are your best bets to reach the foot of Montmartre hill, and by far, the ones we most recommend.On line 2, three stops allow you to reach Montmartre: Blanche, Pigalle, and Anvers.

For the Sacré-Coeur, it is best to stop at Anvers station, which is the closest one. If you prefer to walk more and see Paris Red-Light District, stop at Pigalle; and if you want to exit the Metro in front of the world-famous Moulin Rouge Cabaret, prefer the Blanche station.

On line 12, the Abbesses station – featured in renowned masterpiece Amélie or in the last episode of Netflix phenomenon Sense 8 – is the deepest Metro station in Paris, and will help you get out directly within the Montmartre-spirited streets, near the Wall of “I Love Yous” (Mur des “Je t’Aime”).

Another alternative on this line is Lamarck-Caulaincourt station, which will have you arrive to the North, at the foot of the hill, and allow you to climb uphill from “the other side” of Montmartre. This climb would be less scenic and impressive, but it would allow you to walk through the real Montmartre, away from the tourists’ paths.

Like most Metro stations in Paris, these detailed above are mostly NOT adapted to wheelchairs and strollers. You might want to look at buses (especially line 30, stop “Anvers – Sacré Coeur”) instead, if you are in need of a wheelchair-accessible transportation.

The Funicular:

By taking crowded Rue de Steinkerque from Anvers station, or by taking Rue Yvonne le Tac and Rue Tardieu from Abbesses station, you reach the Funicular station in less than five minutes.

Located right at the foot of the hill, beneath the Sacré-Coeur, it will allow you to go uphill in less than two minutes. If you wish to avoid the steep walk uphill or the stairs, this is one of the best solutions.

However, keep in mind that you will need to use a separate Metro ticket for the Funicular (your Metro ticket expires as soon as you leave the Metro system.

There is no inner-connection between Anvers or Abbesses and the Funicular), unless you are using a full-day pass. Also, if you have the physical condition to do so, we recommend you walk uphill instead of waiting for the Funicular, since lines can be daunting.

Montmartre Funicular

Funiculaire de Montmartre, Paris – Dennis Jarvis – Wikimedia Commons

The Tourist Way: Riding the Montmartrobus

Montmartre is a steep hill, with narrow streets. Transportation uphill is quite limited. However, if you wish to avoid the crowded Funicular, there is an alternative: the Montmartrobus. This bus is part of the RATP system so you can ride it with a normal Metro ticket (though, keep in mind that you will need a separate ticket for this ride, unless you carry a full-day pass).

This bus will take you directly to the front of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

It runs along a circular route that goes uphill, twice, but not to the same places.  You may see a route map at this link to figure out the itinerary. As you may notice, the bus drives past the core of Montmartre (Place du Tertre) twice. FYI, the Sacré-Coeur is located between the Utrillo and Funiculaire stops.

Therefore, if you wish to go to the Sacré Coeur with the Montmartrobus, you have several options:

You may take it anywhere along the way near Pigalle or Abbesses.

Be careful: coming from there, your bus will NOT stop at Sacré-Coeur before completing a long and complex itinerary. Instead, you should stop at Place du Tertre and walk to the Sacré-Coeur. The Place du Tertre stop is located less than 5 minutes away from the Sacré Coeur by foot. If you arrive from Pigalle or Abbesses, this is your best option.

Indeed, the Sacré Coeur stops are reached later along the way, but the bus will first go downhill then back uphill again before getting there. This would massively extend your ride.

OR, You may take Metro line 12 all the way to Jules Joffrin station, then take the Montmartrobus which, coming from there, will directly go uphill to the Sacré-Coeur (Utrillo stop). From Jules Joffrin, the Utrillo stop is your best option this time.

 

Montmartrobus in Rue de l'Abreuvoir

Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Montmartre, Paris – Chris Waits – Wikimedia Commons/Flickr

Also, this ride may not be quick. The bus often has to fight its way through traffic when it reaches the winding narrow streets of the Montmartre hill. If you are in a hurry, this may not be your best solution…

The Brave Way: Using Your Feet

If you have the physical condition to do so, our best recommendation is to WALK uphill!

By walking up, you give yourself the freedom to see some of the nice landmarks of the hill, along the way.

Below, we describe the 4 best routes to get from the foot of the hill to the Sacré-Coeur, all the while taking advantage of the walk to see the rest of the neighborhood.

If you don’t have the motivation or the physical condition to do this, these routes are still interesting for a walk downhill. Of course, you may also consider touring with us, for a more in-depth approach to Montmartre!

  • Route 1 – Using the main stairs

The fastest route to walk uphill is clearly by taking the main staircase that goes all the way from Place Saint Pierre, at the foot of the hill, to the front of the Sacré-Coeur, across the Louise Michel park. Several staircases are going uphill on the side of the park as well, all converging to the Basilica.

Pick this itinerary if you don’t mind the crowds, and look for the most direct way uphill.

Montmartre Stairs

  • Route 2 – Walking up Rue Lepic – A scenic route on Amélie’s Footsteps

If you stop at Blanche station, you will be able to start your tour in front of the famous Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge

From there, take Rue Lepic. Stop in front of the Café des Deux-Moulins, famous for being a key location in the movie Amélie. From here you may take a short detour to the Wall of “I Love Yous”. Instead, if you keep on, Rue Lepic then goes uphill following a large curve. As a rule of thumb, always follow the street that goes up. Feel free to take the stairs at any time. Rue Lepic leads you all the way to the heart of Montmartre : Rue Norvins (to the right) and Place du Tertre. From there, the walk is very short to the Sacré-Coeur.

Place du Tertre

  • Route 3 – Walking up from the “other side”

If you choose to stop at Lamarck-Caulaincourt station, you may walk uphill by wandering the winding streets of the real, less-touristy Montmartre.

When getting out of the Métro, go upstairs. Across Rue Caulaincourt, there is a triangular square. Go all the way to the upper end of it. From there, you will have a choice.

You may either climb up the stairs to a paved road and the statue of the late famous singer Dalida. From there, Rue de l’Abreuvoir, then Rue Cortot and Rue du Chevalier de la Barre will get you to the Sacré Cœur via the small streets of the Montmartre neighborhood; while Rue Girardon and Rue Norvins will get you to the more touristy area of Place du Tertre and its restaurants.

Rue de l'Abreuvoir

You may also decide to avoid these stairs and take Rue Saint Vincent. You will first walk along the Montmartre vineyard, then you may choose to climb the grandiose stairs of Rue du Mont Cenis, which will lead you right behind the Basilica.

Montmartre Vineyard

Vineyard of Montmartre in 18th arrondissement of Paris – Moonik – Wikimedia Commons

  • Route 4 – From Saint Pierre Market

Probably the less common way to go uphill is by using the East side of the hill. From Anvers station, take rue de Steinkerque all the way to the park, then make a right along the park. Walk past the brick-and-iron building on your left (Halle Saint Pierre). You enter a couple of blocks known as “Marché Saint Pierre”. This market is the largest collection of stores in the Paris area entirely dedicated to textiles and fabric. From there, Rue Charles Nodier leads you to a series of long staircases that climb along the park all the way to the Sacré Coeur.

Montmartre Sky

As you can see, there is a lot of ways to go uphill! Choose the one that best fit your physical condition, and your wishes. As a summary, if you are just here for sightseeing and have a busy schedule, choose a combo Metro+Funicular or Metro+Montmartrobus. If you prefer to take the time to discover Montmartre, and if you can, we recommend you walk uphill, and, why not, booking a tour with us.

Bonus: Practical Guide to the Sacré Coeur

Purpose of the Church

The Sacré-Coeur was built to be a place of “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”. As a result, prayers and signs of adoration take place continuously inside the Basilica, day or night. The flow of prayers has been running uninterrupted for more than 130 years.

Things You Can Do at the Sacré Coeur

You may visit the Sacré-Coeur for religious purposes and/or as an architectural and cultural landmark.

Inside Sacré Coeur

If you wish to visit the building, be aware that you can access 2 distinct parts:

  • The Basilica itself: surprising with its walls covered with mosaics and its shape of Greek-cross, the Sacred Heart Basilica is impressive in size and a masterpiece of architecture that no visitor should miss.
    Key things to know :
    • Access is open to all, and free, from 6:00AM to 10:30PM.
    • Taking pictures is prohibited within the Basilica.
  • The Dome: Access to the Dome offers some of the best views to Paris, from the highest point of the French Capital.
    Key things to know :
    • Access to the Dome requires you walk up 300 steps.
    • Access takes place from 09:30AM to 05:00PM in Winter and to 08:00PM in Summer
    • You will need to pay a small fee to access the Dome.

If you are here for religious purposes, be aware that praying is possible during the day and during the night. However visit conditions differ. During the day (6:00AM-10:30PM), prayers are open to all, with no time constraint. During the night (after 10:30PM), prayers are limited to those who register to spend a whole “night of adoration” inside the basilica. Registration is possible at this link, for almost every night.

Masses take place generally 3 to 5 times a day. We recommend you refer to the detailed mass times of the day of your visit, on this page.

Additionally, you may assist ceremonies of Divine Office, times of Adoration and times of Confessions.

How to Dress Best for the Sacré Coeur?

The Sacré-Coeur is a Christian church. Therefore, if you plan to visit it, you should dress properly. Shoulders and knees should preferably be covered and your hat be removed. Overall, you should dress in a decent manner. Likewise, it is expected you respect prayers and remain quiet inside the church.

Also, the Sacré-Coeur is one of the many things there are to see in Montmartre. Chances are you are going to walk a lot that day.  We highly recommend you wear very comfortable shoes to get there!

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