Getting to Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre by train
If you aren’t based close to Montmartre, the best way to get there is by train. Paris has an extremely reliable and easy-to-navigate public transport system, which includes the Metro and RER train services.
Which station is the nearest to Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre?
Because it’s one of the most significant spots in the city, Montmartre is very well served by rail. If you’re taking the Metro, which we recommend, your best bets are lines 2 and 12. There are lots of stations you might choose to disembark for Montmartre, including:
The stop you choose will depend on your plans and what you’d like to get out of the area. For example, Abbesses, on line 12, was featured in the iconic film Amélie and is the deepest Metro station in Paris. If you’re into cinema, this could be the stop for you.
Alternatively, Lamarck-Caulaincourt will bring you to the north side of Montmartre. Getting off the Metro here may be less attractive, but it’ll also allow you to avoid the more touristy streets.
Anvers is the closest Metro station to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, so hop off here for the shortest walk. For a less physically taxing arrival, walk a couple of minutes from Anvers to the funicular railway station.
The Montmartre funicular is located at the bottom of the hill, directly beneath Sacré-Cœur. You’ll be at the top in just a couple of minutes, and get to avoid the steep uphill walk that can be tough for some visitors. This is an excellent option if you’re visiting with little ones or just don’t fancy the climb. Metro and RER services are very regular, so no need to plan your departure time. Enjoy an extra 10 minutes over croissants and coffee and head to your nearest stop whenever you’re ready. You’ll never need to wait for more than a couple of minutes for a service.
Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre Monuments
There are lots of things to see and do in Montmartre, including, of course, the beautiful Sacré-Cœur. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous monuments in the area. These include:
- Sacré-Cœur Basilica
- Place du Tertre
- St. Pierre Church
- The Wall of Love
- Place Dalida
Want to know more? Keep reading!
1. Sacré-Cœur Basilica
One of the city’s most unique and beautiful monuments, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, or Sacré-Cœur, is the jewel of Montmartre. Towering 213 metres above sea level, the Basilica is the second-highest point in Paris after the Eiffel Tower and the second-most visited church after Notre Dame. Instantly recognisable for its white stone architecture, Sacré-Cœur is a glistening example of Roman-Byzantine style both inside and out. The ceiling is decorated with the biggest mosaic in France, the intricate Christ in Majesty, which measures around 480 square metres.
2. Place du Tertre
Just a few streets away from Sacré-Cœur, this charming neighbourhood square is always bustling. The Place du Tertre is one of the most visited squares in all of Paris. With local artists perched all around, it’s a perfect spot to enjoy some of Montmartre’s creative culture and maybe pick up a souvenir to take home!
3. St. Pierre Church
St Pierre’s Church, or Eglise St. Pierre de Montmartre, dates back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest religious buildings in Paris. The St. Pierre is all that remains of the Benedictine convent of Montmartre, which once owned a large portion of land stretching far beyond the hill. Home to the oldest pointed archway in the city and a beautiful Neo-Classical façade, St. Pierre Church is well worth a visit during your time in Montmartre.
4. The Wall of Love
The Wall of Love is an excellent place to stop during a romantic trip to Paris, and a unique attraction even if you aren’t. You can find this sweet landmark nestled among Jehan Rictus Square, a popular Montmartre meeting place. The wall is made up of 511 tiles engraved with ‘I Love You’ in over 300 languages and dialects from around the world. If you have a little time in the area, try to pass by for an inspiring story of community and connection.
5. Place Dalida
One of the prettiest squares in Paris, Place Dalida, sits on the fringes of Montmartre somewhat away from the hustle and bustle. Named after French singer and actress Dalida, the square is home to a beautiful commemorative statue and a bench to sit and ponder. If you need a quick break from the tourists, head here for relative peace and quiet.
While there are lots of monuments, museums, and unique spots to visit in Montmartre, our favourite thing to do in the area is simple. Let yourself wander around the winding streets of this historic Parisian neighbourhood and see what you can find. Thanks to the Sacré-Cœur at the top of the hill, it’s almost impossible to get lost. Simply head uphill if you lose your bearings, and you’ll come back to the Basilica in no time.
Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre History and Facts
As the highest point in the city, Montmartre has always been a favourite for religious worship. Let’s explore how the area has developed, including the history of Sacré-Cœur and the region as a whole.
Where did Montmartre get its name?
The name Montmartre is thought to mean ‘Mount of the Martyr’. This is because Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris, was brought to Montmartre and executed by the Romans for his faith. The area has also been associated with the Roman gods of Mars and Mercury. Montmartre was initially called Mons Martis, or ‘Mount of Mars’, which has led to some ongoing confusion about the origins of the name. Martyr or Mars, we love it just the same!
The artistic history of Montmartre
The community of Montmartre was made part of Paris in 1860. Although it’s expensive to live there today, the area was once a working-class neighbourhood and a favourite of creatives.
Artists were drawn to Montmartre throughout the 19th century for cheap rent prices, aesthetic appeal, and views of the city below. Thanks to its liberal reputation and underground culture, the likes of Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Vincent van Gogh chose to live and work in Montmartre.
The neighbourhood’s thriving bohemian culture presented a stark contrast to the decadent attitudes of the city below. Think late-night café concerts, cabarets, and an anything-goes vibe.
Montmartre isn’t what it used to be. Like many once-authentic city centre spots, it’s become touristy and too expensive for the working-class to live today. However, you can still get a feel for times gone by during your visit. The streets are thronged with artists painting the landscape below. At the same time, there are plenty of galleries you can visit to support local creatives and give a little back to the artistic heart of Paris.
The history of Sacré-Cœur Basilica
The bright white Basilica has stood atop Montmartre for just over a century, making it much younger than some of the other churches and chapels in Paris. The history of the Sacré-Cœur begins in 1870, following the military defeat of France by Prussia. Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury decided to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A sign of patience, trust, hope, and faith.
The first stone was laid in 1875, although the Basilica wasn’t consecrated until 1919 following delays during the First World War.
Although the Sacré-Cœur is relatively new, the spot on which it sits has had religious roots for much longer, a favourite among Pagans and Roman worshipers of Mars and Mercury.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops in Montmartre
As one of the most significant areas in all of Paris, Montmartre is home to a fitting array of restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops. There’s something here no matter what you’re looking for, which can make the search a little overwhelming. To help you plan your perfect visit, we’ll take you through some of our favourite eateries in the area, as well as unmissable retail for window-shopping or indulgence.
The best restaurants in Montmartre
There’s no way you can explore Montmartre properly without some hearty fuel in your belly. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves. And with plenty of choice in the area, finding your ideal breakfast, lunch, or dinner couldn’t be easier.
- Babalou – an authentic Italian restaurant with a small pavement terrace
- Le Café de la Poste – a locals’ favourite brasserie ideal for lunch
- Chez La Mère Catherine – a classic French spot in artists-haven Place du Tertre
- Sacrée Fleur – next to the rhyming monument, this spot specialises in beef
- Soul Kitchen – locally sourced dishes for lunch or a relaxed dinner
- La Fourmi – a stylish and affordable spot with a beautiful terrace
- Le Poulbot – for home-cooked French classics and a cosy setting
- Terrass – fine dining with beautiful views across the city
- Le Moulin de la Galette – a dining room in the iconic windmill painted by Renoir
- Hardware Société – an ultra-trendy spot for healthy breakfasts and brunches
- Le Jardin d’en Face – for generous portions and a laidback atmosphere.
Whatever you’re after, you’re sure to find it among the winding streets of Montmartre.
The best shopping in Montmartre
Looking for a little retail therapy? Whether shopping is your main draw or you fancy a mooch around after a visit to the Sacré-Cœur, there’s plenty to discover in Montmartre.
Wake up early on a Sunday and head to the Place des Abbesses for a bustling vintage market. Search through stalls full of treasures, from vintage books and homeware to art and Parisian jewellery. It’s the perfect place to find something unique.
Alternatively, visit the Halle Saint-Pierre for an extensive choice of modern art and books. There’s a modern café inside too, making it a perfect place to shop and refuel. Sweet tooth? Look for À la Mère de Famille. This traditional confectioner offers some of the most delicious treats in the city!
Sacré-Cœur Opening Times and Prices
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is an excellent place to visit whether you’ve been to Paris before or not. Explore Montmartre and all the unique spots it has to offer, ascend the hill at leisure and arrive at the iconic church in your own time. Sacré-Cœur is open daily from 06:00 to 22:30, so you can head over pretty much whenever you like. Entrance to the church is free, and no reservation is necessary even for group visits, which means you can enjoy a flexible day in Montmartre. However, you’ll need to pay €5 to climb to the top of the Sacré-Cœur dome. There are 300 steps to tackle, and no lift to help, but the views are unbeatable if you can make it. Whatever way you explore Montmartre, we’re sure this unique neighbourhood will make you fall even deeper in love with Paris and all its charming ways.
Getting to Paris by train
You can easily get to Paris by train from any other French or European city. Direct TGV high-speed services run frequently from Avignon to Paris (2h 41m), Bordeaux to Paris (2h 9m), Lyon to Paris (1h 55m), Marseille to Paris (3h 12m), Nice to Paris (5h 44m) and Strasbourg to Paris (2h 23m).
International train routes include London to Paris (2h 13m), Amsterdam to Paris (3h 12m), Brussels to Paris (1h 22m), Barcelona to Paris (6h 38m), Zurich to Paris (4h 6m), Munich to Paris (6h 37m) and Stuttgart to Paris (4h 13m).