The Romans called it Mons Mercurii, after erecting a hilltop shrine to their god of commerce. Medieval folks referred to it as Montmartre, or "Hill of Martyrs," after legend stated that their patron saint tucked his decapitated head under his arm and walked from this hill to a more comfortable resting spot north of Paris.
But the area is probably best known for the many 19th-20th Century painters who made it home. As rents were affordable, its working-class streets were full of struggling artists like Picasso, Modigliani, Renoir, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Utrillo and Van Gogh.
Along with this era came the famous taverns and dance halls - the Moulin de la Galette immortalized by Renoir's painting, the Moulin-Rouge, and Le Mirliton where Aritide Bruant hurled insults at the bourgeousie who came to rub shoulders with the poor. The police also knew the Montmartre as the resort of gangs of Parisian toughs distinguished by their wide berets and corduroy trousers. When Eric Satie played piano in a Montmartre cabaret, he went armed with a hammer!
Montmartre's colorful past has left an indelible mark on its tiny streets. The last surviving vineyard in Paris can still be seen here as well as two of the thirty windmills which ground the wheat grown on its butte in the 1600's. Many of the cabarets, once alive with songs and young women dancing the cancan, can still be visited.
The Sacre Coeur
The Sacre-Coeur was built at the end of the 19th century at the top of Montmartre hill in Paris. Its famous white architecture dominates the city, and offers a wonderful view. The nearby streets of Montmarte are full of artists and restaurants.
Overlooking Paris on the hill to the north is the Roman-Byzantine basilica of the Sacred Heart, dominates Paris. The church is on the site where Saint Denis was beheaded because of his faith in late IIIrd century. The basilica's construction was financed by every parish in France.
The building's extraordinary whiteness is a result of the material used in its construction: Chateau-Landon stone bleaches with age.
The front has two bronze equestrian statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Louis by H. Lefebvre, and the climax of the overall design is the statue of Christ, his hand raised in blessing. Since 1885, the prayer of perpetual worship has been the most important part of the life and activities of this worldwide famous sanctuary.
Follow the signs to the west of the Church to Place du Tertre. This is the artist's square. It is fun to walk around except for the artists who are constantly trying to get you to let them draw a portrait of you.
When you walk from the subway station to Sacre Coeur, you will walk through the Montmarte flea markets. This is alot of fun if you like that kind of stuff.
Since 1885, the prayer of perpetual worship has been the most important part of the life and activities of this worldwide famous sanctuary.
The Basilica of the "Sacré Coeur" is a place of pilgrimage where the chaplains and the Benedictine nuns of the Sacred Heart welcome pilgrims, faithful worshippers and all those who seek God. Adjacent to the basilic, the Ephrem Hostel is opened to the pilgrims who have previously booked their room.
The basilica publishes a spiritual magazine for everyone containing the various organized activities, previous months events, spiritual teaching, a book of prayers and christian testimonies.