Today we caught the train to Montmartre and walked through the Cemetery. In the mid-18th century, overcrowding in the cemeteries of Paris had created numerous problems, from impossibly high funeral costs to unsanitary living conditions in the surrounding neighborhoods. In the 1780s, the Cimetière des Innocents was officially closed and citizens were banned from burying corpses within the city limits of Paris. During the early 19th century, new cemeteries were constructed outside the precincts of the capital. The Montmartre Cemetery was opened on January 1, 1825. It was initially known as la Cimetière des Grandes Carrières (Cemetery of the Large Quarries). The name referenced the cemetery's unique location, in an abandoned gypsum quarry. The quarry had previously been used during the French Revolution as a mass grave. It was built below street level, in the hollow of an abandoned gypsum quarry.
From here we walked to Moulin Rouge, French for "Red Mill" a cabaret in Paris. The original house, which burned down in 1915. Best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe.
Our next stop was Le petit musee du chocolat in Rue Steinkerque, where we saw the most amazing chocolate sculptures such as Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
After tasting the delicacies of the chocolate shop we walked to The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur located at the summit of the hill of Montmarte, on the right bank of the Seine. On this spot, at the beginning of the 3rd century, the first Christians of Paris with their bishop Saint Denis, the priest Saint Rusticus and the deacon Saint Eleutherius were martyred, giving the hill its name “Mount of Martyrs”.
The top of the hill of Montmartre where the church now stands has been a sacred site where druids were thought to have worshipped. The Romans had built temples dedicated to gods Mars and Mercury.
The construction of the Basilica was the realisation of a vow pronounced by the French parliament after the military defeat of 1870. In those troubled times, they sought to offer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a church that would be consecrated to Him, as a sign of spiritual renewal, hope and trust. Beneath the apse mosaic by Merson and Magne (at 475 square metres one of the largest in the world) depicting Christ with arms extended, an inscription recalls this vow: “To the Sacred Heart of Jesus, France fervent, penitent and grateful.”
The whipped-cream look of the edifice is mainly due to its stone which came from the Château-Landon quarries. In wet weather, the calcite contained in the stone acts like a bleacher to give the church a definite chalky white appearance.
The church was built atop the hill of Montmartre at an altitude of 130 metres above sea-level. The bell tower and the dome both reaches 83 m high, which makes it the second-highest point in Paris (213 m) after the Eiffel Tower (324 m) and just before the Montparnasse Tower (210 m).