Sacré Coeur: An insider's guide

Where to avoid the tourist traps around Paris's 'Sacred Heart' basilica and Montmartre...



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Basilique du Sacré Coeur

Basilique du Sacré Coeur

Sitting atop the Butte de Montmartre like a Byzantine meringue, and visible from almost everywhere in Paris, the beautiful 19th-century Sacré Coeur basilica is understandably a tourist magnet.Yet wonder off the beaten track, through the cobbled streets behind and to the west of the monument, and you'll touch upon a more authentic Montmartre, still populated by locals - many of them artists, actors or media types. You should also head below the Butte into the trendifying SoPi (south Pigalle) district (9th), where grand hôtels particuliers, hidden museums and foodie haunts run by young chefs, offer an alternative atmosphere to the Butte - especially around rue des Martyrs, which is lined with quirky shops and cafés.

For our suggestions of the best places to go, follow the list below.

Just one word of warning: on the narrow streets leading up to the Sacré Coeur from Métro Anvers, illegal betting stands (cardboard boxes piled as tables) have taken root on almost every corner, coaxing tourists into loosing their money, while look-outs check that the police are nowhere to be seen. Do not be put off by this; just avoid the area by walking to the basilica from Métro Blanche or Pigalle. If you do find yourself at Anvers Métro, you're quite safe (it's also a good stop for exploring rue des Martyrs), just make-sure you avoid the betting stands.

For more information on the Sacré Coeur, click here.

Around the Sacré Coeur...

Museum: Musée de l'Erotisme

To explore Pigalle's erotic side without the sleaze, go for a giggle at the Musée de l'Erotisme, where you'll find seven floors of erotic art and artefacts amassed by collectors Alain Plumey and

  1. 72 boulevard de Clichy, 18e
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Musée National Gustave Moreau

A ten-minute walk from Montmartre and you'll find this wonderful museum, which combines the small private apartment of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-98) with the vast gallery he built to

  1. 14 rue de La Rochefoucauld, 9e
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Concerts: Les Trois Baudets

When it comes to modern chanson, this is the place to see and be seen. Founded in 1947 by Jacques Canetti, Les Trois Baudets is a mythical place where numerous great talents of the last century –

  1. 64 boulevard de Clichy, 18e
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Restaurant: Hôtel Amour

This boutique hotel below Montmartre is a real hit with the in crowd. Each of the 20 rooms is decorated on the theme of love or eroticism by a coterie of contemporary artists and designers such as

  1. 8 rue Navarin, 9e
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In the heart of SoPi, Jean-Luc André is as inspired a decorator as he is a cook, and the quirky charm of his fresco clad dining room has made it popular with fashion designers and film stars. But

  1. 34 rue Pétrelle, 9e
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Café: La Fourmi

The terrace of La Fourmi [the ant], whose name is a wink to the nearby concert hall La Cigale [the cicada], is a summer sun-trap for pretty girls with cute haircuts and skimpy dresses, attracting a

  1. 74 rue des Martyrs, 18e
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Bar: Au Rendez-vous des Amis

This is one of the rare authentic dive bars in Montmartre, despite being slap bang next to that stickiest of tourist honey-traps, the Place du Tertre. Sitting on a terrace on a little cobbled street,

  1. 23 rue Gabrielle, 18e
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Burger Bar: Le Floors

Strolling at the base of the Montmartre mound, it’s hard to miss this bar, installed as it is in a pretty art deco building over three glass-fronted floors on the corner of two intersecting

  1. 100 rue Myrha, 18e
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Shop: Exodisc

You could spend hours in Exodisc on rue du Mont Cenis behind the Sacré Coeur. This record shop is run by ex-pat Larry, whose encyclopedic knowledge of rock music has been practically unrivalled in

  1. 70 rue du Mont-Cenis, 18e
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Shop: Hôtel Drouot

It's worth the downhill stroll from Montmartre to this coveted auction house: A spiky aluminium-and-marble concoction is the unlikely location for France's second largest art market - though it is

  1. 9 rue Drouot, 9e
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Shop: Causses

  • Price band: 3/4

Causses, SoPi’s (SouthPigalle) new alimentation general extraordinaire, feels like an urban farm shop, offering a winning formula of simple quality, seasonal, produce (fruit ‘n’ veg, hams and

  1. 55 rue Notre-Dame de la Lorette, 9e
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