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A sacrebleu Sacre Coeur sunset

Sacre Coeur sunset Montmartre Paris

A Sacre Coeur sunset and the crown of Paris

The heartbeat and underbelly of Paris

At the bottom of the hill, the underbelly of Paris comes to life as artists and colorful figures roam the streets.  Bohemian figures with a flair for the creative mix with prostitutes in the red light district of Paris.

Pigalle contains the famous Moulin Rouge where sex shops and seedy characters mixed with World War II soldiers.  Pig Alley was born.  Today, tourists roam the streets snapping photos of attractions unaware of the real character and history of this place.

For years, artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet had homes in Montmartre.  This place became home to to some of the greatest artists and literary giants in history.  Paris was transformed in the late 19th and early 20th century, right here on these streets.

If Paris was the symbol of Europe, this was the heartbeat.

A Sacre Coeur sunset and the crown of Paris

At the top of the hill, Sacre Couer sits as the crown of Paris.  These may be the best views the city has to offer.  Sacre Coeur is filled with tourists, immigrants trying to sell things to tourists, and locals who never get tired of a sunset view.

Looking out over the city, you get lost in the scenes of Parisian life.  Montparnasse rises into the sky distinguishing itself from the rest of the Parisian skyline.  Arrondissements are just her style as streets and communities are woven together to adorn Paris’ figure.

Sacre Coeur reveals Paris in a different light, from a different perspective – a city of neighborhoods that’s void of a sexy, stimulating skyline.  By no means is this a gargoyle view of Paris from Notre Dame.  This view is so much more.

Watching a Sacre Coeur sunset on the steps over looking the City of Light, there may not be a more beautiful skyline in the world.  Stare at the city long enough and you smell, taste, and savor Paris in a way those who only pass through can never understand.

Paris doesn’t have a distinctive feature in her skyline.  She’s not sexy or flamboyant.  Yet she becomes more beautiful and alluring with each glance.  You feel the chemistry and understand how incredibly fascinating she is the more time you spend with her.

You pause for a moment and look away.  Behind you, Sacre Coeur glows in a way that’s hard to describe.  It’s an orange, yellow, and white – a perfect blend of colors melting into a slow burn of passion.

Above her, the sky is illuminated with blue and purple as Sacre Coeur and sunset become Paris’ crown of beauty.

To the casual tourist, they may think that this photo of Sacre Coeur is the result of another stunning Paris sunset.  What they don’t understand is that these colors are just a mere reflection of the beauty, culture, and life of the colorful people below.

Travel photography tip The best time of day to take photos is at sunset or sunrise.  A low sun brings out the colors and gives you the perfect light.  More importantly, this is the time of day where you can slow down and really experience the places you are photographing.

A Sacre Coeur sunset is the perfect place to relax, reflect, and take the time to get to know Paris for the beauty that lies underneath.  Only when you take the time to get to know her will she show you her crown.

If you enjoyed this Sacre Coeur sunset, get more travel photography tips and stories each week with the travel photo of the week.  Where else can you learn how to take better photos from the perspective of gargoyles and Notre Dame’s backside?  You might even want to check out the Yosemite in Winter ebook!

What’s the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever captured?  Aside from the colors, what made your sunset so special?

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  1. I agree with your travel tip about the ‘golden hour’!

    • Thanks Matt. Not only are sunrise and sunset the best time for taking photos, it gives us a chance to slow down and enjoy the experience without rushing off to the next place. I’ve found that this time of day causes me to slow down a little too. May be another reason why the photos turn out a little better.

  2. Michael says:

    Ahhhh, home… or at least our neighbourhood for 20 years. It is one of the few places in Paris where you can still see and feel the “village life” that was Paris once had years ago.

    • I feel the same as you Michael. Montmartre has character and characters. Feels like an area of Paris that still has life. That’s why I called it both the underbelly and heartbeat of the city. You really feel that at the top of Sacre Coeur.

  3. This was my favorite structure in Paris, and I loved the view of the rest of the city from here.

  4. Shawna says:

    What a descriptive post! I can completely feel the atmosphere and the colors that you described! I love seeing a post about Paris that doesn’t feel obligated to talk about the Eiffel Tower too…

  5. John Unger says:

    Great picture and info on Sacre Coeur! I’m planning on a trip to Europe for the first time next year, and Paris is definitely a weak spot in my travel itinerary that I know very little about. It’s nice to have a ground-level feel for an actual neighborhood before visiting there; hopefully I make it there in person in 2014.

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