The hike up to Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

The weather in Paris has been uncharacteristically cold over the past week and rainy for the most part. So I’ve been waiting for a sunny/clear day to head up to Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur. Apparently the look out from the top of the dome gives you a wonderful view of the city of Paris. The area of Montmartre is located on a hill which also happens to be the highest point in Paris. I knew that the church was built on the top of a hill but I didn’t realize just how hilly the neighbourhood was. One thing that I’ve noticed is that there aren’t a lot of escalators in the subway (and even fewer elevators). I really should have clued in when I got off at Abbesses station and walked past a bunch of people who filed into the elevator.

There is a reason why Abbesses has an elevator – it’s because the station is situated very deep underground. So in order to exit the station you can either take the elevator or walk up a spiral staircase consisting of 90 steps (there is even a sign at the bottom informing you of this – how thoughtful). I didn’t mind the 90 steps (it’s really deceiving how many steps there are because you can’t see all the steps because it spirals around) but I did choose to take the funicular up to the base of the Sacre Coeur once I was at street level. However, to get to the dome of the Sacre Coeur, you have to climb another 300 steps (there is a sign – again, how thoughtful)!

The funiculaire to Sacre Coeur

The funiculaire to Sacre Coeur

Stairs to the Dome

However, the lookout at the top was well worth the hike. It was a nice sunny day and the view was amazing! However, my legs now feel like jello and ever since my visit to Montmartre, every time I see stairs in the subway I let out a small whimper.  There are stairs everywhere! I even started counting them. Each staircase in the metro consists of around 20 steps. There are stairs to get into the station and stairs to get onto the platform. So each time someone takes the subway, they have to climb 40-50 stairs to get into the station and onto the platform, and the same to get out. That’s around 100 stairs for each subway ride. And there are no escalators! Your only option is to take the stairs (it really is a good form of exercise).  And this is one of the reasons why I think the French don’t get fat.

At the top looking at the base of the Sacre CoeurSo between hiking up the Arc de Triomphe, the towers at Notre Dame Cathedral and the dome of the Sacre Coeur, plus all the stairs in the subway, I must have climbed at least 2000 stairs within the past week. I don’t think I’ve ever climbed so many stairs within a one week period as I have in Paris in my entire life. This city is kicking my butt!

The view points at the top of these places make it all worth it though.

View from the top of Sacre Coeur

View from the dome of the Sacre Coeur

View from Notre Dame Tower

View  of the Seine from Notre Dame Tower

View from Notre Dame

View of the Île de la Cité


3 thoughts on “The hike up to Sacre Coeur

  1. I know how you feel, but I would not have missed any of because there were stairs. Not only are there stairs to everything we also walked kilometres to get there as well. Spent hours walking through the louvre then walked up to the Arc de Triomphe about 4 klms. Sleep well at night. Loved Paris.

  2. I’m a really fat American. In 2014, I took a quick vacation to Paris, and went to see Sacre Coeur. I missed the sign that said “90 steps,” so I climbed the entire 90 steps out of the subway station. Took a break, then asked, in my broken French, what I thought was “Where is the funicular?” Instead, what I must have asked was “Where does the funicular go?” because everyone I asked kept pointing up the hill. So yes, I walked all 90 steps plus the 300 to the hill. By accident. Still – it’s an accomplishment.

    I did take the funicular down, because I wasn’t crazy.

    • On our honeymoon in 2001, there was no sign telling one how many steps. We took the steps up from the metro, then the funicular up the front, then climbed to the dome. The worst part, for me, was not the number of steps–it was the walk around the lowest part of the dome, where the parapet cannot be more than 3 feet tall, if that–very scary even when one isn’t necessarily afraid of heights! And at that time, the arches in the dome had no ‘filling’; there was a lip of sorts at the bottom, but one should not have leaned out! Perhaps there have been other changes in addition to the sign with the number of steps!

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