Best Rooftop in Europe – Touring the Sacre Coeur Basilica

Sacre Coeur Silhouette

If you ever get to Paris, put down your glass of wine and hoof it over to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Ride the metro, hail a cab or build a small jetpack out of fire extinguishers if you need to, but just get there. Tour the interior and marvel at the nave and rotunda, but whatever you do, don’t miss the tour across the roof, between the domes. The views are stunning, which only makes sense since it’s built upon the second highest hill in Paris. It is a pretty roof, entirely clad in white stone, rather than the typical metal or tile. But what makes it more impressive to architects like myself are the stone details the masons carved in areas never intended to be seen by the public.

Tim Bjella Sketches - Sacre Coeur Cathedral

Sacre Coeur Cathedral


A stroll between domes,
Impressive is the detail,
Never meant for eyes.


Parisians have a love/hate relationship with the Sacre Coeur, referring to it as the alabaster wedding cake (in French, that means “church of the pale, tubby tourist”). It is glossed over or skipped entirely in most architectural history classes, as well, probably because of its curious blend of Romanesque and Byzantine domes, arches and gables. Not so much blended, but mashed and disproportionately squished together, with bits tacked on. But if you can get past all that, it is a lovely place to spend an afternoon, before dancing the evening away in Montmartre with artists like Picasso, van Gogh, Dali, and Monet, but less dead.

Check out this site for amazing 360 degree panoramic tours of the Sacre Coeur

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Tim Bjella

Principal architect and interior designer for Arteriors / Bjella Architecture.

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