An enjoyable area off the beaten path in Paris is the Montmartre district, including the Sacre Couer.
The real name of the church is Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre. It’s situated on a hill overlooking Paris, and worth the trip for the view itself.
But there’s more there than the view. The church is beautiful, full of carvings and stained glass, and magnificent architecture. Photographs cannot be taken inside, and people come to the church to worship, so there are areas to light candles and of course many gather in the pews to pray. While many know of the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame, I was not as familiar with the Sacre Couer until visiting.
According to the basilica’s website, in contrast to the Gothic churches of the Middle Ages like Notre-Dame de Paris (1163-1240), the style is inspired by churches such as Saint Sofia in Constantinople and San Marco in Venice. Construction took place from 1875- 1919.
The exterior travertine stone is unique in that it exudes calcite on contact with rainwater, making it white. There are statues and gargoyles carved on the exterior of the church as well.
Once you have viewed the church, you have to take a stroll through the Montmartre district. Hilly cobblestone streets, cafes (we had crepes for lunch) and artists are everywhere. There are many styles of art on display, and artists willing to paint your picture or do a caricature.
There is a funicular (a tram that ascends a steep hill) to get you up and down the slope, or you can walk.
Montmartre is worth a visit when in Paris. You can find out more at the website.