Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre: Paris Scare Experienced First Hand

Friday, August 30, 2019 0 Comments

Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre
Under my half-opened eyes, I swore that I’ll visit this Parisian minor basilica early in the morning, at around 6:00 A.M., when the city of Paris was about to wake up and go up and about, but my drowsy mood ended up deciding to sleep longer instead. The warmness of the hugging pillows and sheets were more than sufficient motives for me to do a half-day stay-cation. A staycation within a vacation, why not? Besides, when you just arrive in Paris literally 12 hours before the planned visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, famously known as the Sacré-Cœur Basilicayou either make things happen or make excuses. Definitely, an unwanted excuse, but an excuse made... little did I know that this excusable delay was the very reason why I’ve experienced a sort of frightening “near-death” like experience in Sacré-Cœur a few hours after that. Can you just imagine, just before reaching the summit of the Sacré-Cœur to buy Sacré-Cœur tickets, I was welcomed by this surreal sense of scare? No miraculous apparition, no clouds opening from the sky, and certainly nothing too mystical. Yikes.

Historically speaking, I easily get scared of people who are scary-looking. You know, the ones that have that prisoner-persona that’s too challenging to brush off. Maybe because I grew up in the infamous cities within Metro Manila. My mom’s basic rule of law was all about “everyone’s out to do wicked things”, “watch out for yourself”, “don’t talk to strangers”, and “be wary of the bad-looking people”. Of course, this seems to be an absolutely usable rule of thumb, especially if there are so many petty criminals running around the streets of the Philippine capital. But nowadays, I believe that I’ve become so street-smart because of that training, so much so that I don’t simply get fearful of such kinds of faces or places. I was trained well, I thought. Now fast forward to present Paris time: How can things go wrong, even in a first-world country, I don’t think so.... or that’s what I thought. The Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre doesn’t seem to be a place for these kinds of people, especially since it’s considered a sacred sanctuary for spiritual individuals, or for tourists who’d like to get a feel for some authentic Catholic Church experience. No room for the scary-looking, almost true, but actually false. Surprise!

The steps leading to the Sacré-Cœur were quite exciting at first because there are so many choices of souvenirs and tourist-trap food fares to choose from. Walk here, sniff there. Shop here, eat there. Leisurely walking and pretending like a local, I nonchalantly marched the steps of the church... then all of a sudden, a swarm of giant-height, antagonistic-looking, verbally aggressive dark-skinned French people, carrying these chains of miniature Eiffel tower and bright colored bracelets circled me. Like a flock of angry vultures, they surrounded me and forced me to first buy their key chains, speaking in dark husky negative voice. They resorted to forcefully making me wear the bracelets, asking me to wear it (or else they will kill me stare). I thought I came face to face with death, my soul just jumped out of my body that very instant. Fear started to pierce through my chest, mouth started to dry, and I couldn’t utter any Asian, English, or any word at all. The fact was, I was petrified.

The inner street smart in me, coupled with the fight-or-flight chance, I held my ground and briskly walked like any stereotypical crazy Asian would be, didn’t give in to what they wanted, and finally reached the top of the Sacré-Cœur. Honestly, the panoramic view on top was unbelievable – but the level of fear almost helped me forget that. I looked back once again to see the future victims, and most of the tourists they pick on are either Asians or couples. It’s quite an observation because different people had dissimilar reactions, some gave in, others fought back, others were clueless. Took me a couple more minutes before I started to have a chance to direct my attention towards the La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. The architecture alone deserved much appreciation, but what’s even more deserving is the overlooking view. You can see the entire Paris right in front of you. Such beauty.

Main entrance: Forecourt of the Basilica, open from 6:00 A.M. to 11:30 P.M.
Admission to the Home of Adoration Nights and the EPHREM Welcome House
35, Rue Du Chevalier - De - La – Bar 75018 Paris, France

Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 60 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the edges of after-office hours and (un)limited holidays.

For collaboration ideas, email bowdywanders@gmail.com.

0 Wandering Thoughts: