Montmartre Walk to Sacre Coeur with Private Guide
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your guide will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors.
Tour Participation Requirements
Radicals and revelers, saints, martyrs, and malcontents. No part of the City of Light has burned with more passion and intensity than Montmartre.
It was here that Paris became "bohemian" – a 19th-century term for unconventional, anti-establishment, creative, and rebellious. With its implications of promiscuity, poverty, and poor personal hygiene, it was not a term of endearment.
Yet Montmartre is also a holy place. At its summit, where Sacre Coeur now stands, St. Denis was beheaded by the Romans in 250 A.D. The future patron saint of Paris then picked up his head and walked six miles downhill, preaching a decidedly unconventional sermon the whole way.
At the nearby Church of St. Pierre, another stop on this tour, St. Ignatius of Loyola took the vows of poverty and chastity that founded the Jesuits in 1534. So unconventional was the "Society of Jesus" that Pope Clement XIV commanded its suppression in 1773. It didn't work, and the decree was reversed in 1814.
Then revolution came to Montmartre. Not the capital-R French original of 1789, but the 1871 uprising that led to a two-month socialist takeover of city government: the "Paris Commune." The army retook Montmartre, the last bastion of revolt, just 18 days after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Sacre Coeur was built on the heights of Paris's most rebellious neighborhood as a kind of penance for these twin calamities – divine punishment for what the bishop called "a century of moral decline."
That didn't work, either. Freethinking, free-loving bohemians quickly moved in, painting, writing, debating, dancing, and debauching in and around Montmartre's cabarets and ginguettes (drinking establishments). The windmill at the Moulin de la Galette recalls those raucous times, when the likes of Renoir, van Gogh, Matisse, Degas, and Picasso kicked artistic convention off the Martyr's Mountain. To this day, painters gather at the Place du Tertre – the public square that is the heart of Montmartre, just a few streets from the basilica named for the Sacred Heart. If you squint your eyes (and listen to your historian docent), you'll be able to paint your own picture of life a century ago in bohemian, profane, sacred Montmartre.
Renoir, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec all lived in Montmartre at the same time. Van Gogh created a series of paintings of the Moulin de la Galette windmill; Renoir's 1876 Dance at le Moulin de la Galette is an Impressionist masterpiece, and one of the best-known depictions of the neighborhood's freewheeling cafe life. For Toulouse-Lautrec, part of that life started out free, but eventually took a heavy cost. His first of many paintings featuring Montmartre prostitutes was inspired by his first of many encounters with them, reportedly paid for by friends. He died of alcoholism and syphilis at the age of 36.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.