Looking for a more scenic and cheap way to see some views of Paris from above? Then check out Sacre-Coeur, a beautiful Basilica located on the highest point within the city (which isn’t very high at all). The area leading up to the church is quite seedy – filled with locals trying to scam you into playing their card games, tourist shops, and quite a few sketchy characters. Fear not though, as you’ll be surrounded by other tourists sitting along the green grass once you begin walking up to the church. The area is extremely busy with tourists, though once you make it to the top you’ll get some nice views of the city (though there unfortunately isn’t much to be seen).
It’s a short walk to get up to the base of the Basilica, and it’s actually really beautiful if you’re lucky enough to be there on a sunny and warm day. Bring some food and just lounge around on the grass and soak up some of Paris in a relaxed setting. Avoid sitting on the stairs at the top – far too many people and there will be tourists constantly pushing past you.
Once at the top, you’ll probably have to push your way through hoards of people (which I’ve become a professional at since moving to Hong Hong) to get a clear view of the city. Because Paris is so old, there aren’t really many tall buildings that you can see from this point. We attempted to find the Eiffel Tower, but were unsuccessful. Bring some binoculars to a) zoom in on some neat buildings and, more importantly, b) creep on random unsuspecting people in these buildings or on the streets. Fun times will ensue. Oh, and you can also buy some crappy souvenirs if you’re so inclined. These hawkers are literally everywhere in Paris.
There are also some cute streets you can walk through when you’re at the top that are filled with souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. All over-priced, of course.
After you’ve had enough of Sacre-Coeur (or getting hassled by hawkers), you’ll be able check out the “original” Moulin Rouge, just a short walk from the church. Not gonna lie though, I was quite disappointed. Having been (and may or may not still be..) a huge fan of the movie musical masterpiece Moulin Rouge, my expectations for seeing the inspiration behind the film were quite high. Unfortunately, it’s just an old, run-down building bearing the famous name.
Be warned: this area is super sketchy.
Be double warned: Paris, in general, is super sketchy (who knew?!).