Skip to content

Archive for


Summoned by Bells

THE BASILIQUE DU SACRE-COEUR is situated on the top of the butte Montmartre.  Built in a Romano-Byzantine style using white travertine stone, which whitens with age, the Basilica provides a commanding view of Paris.

Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacré-Couer are magnetic attractions for tourists each year.  But how many of these tourists know that Sacré-Couer is a relatively recent construction?  Completed in 1919, the Basilica of Sacré-Couer was built as a monument to the end of the Franco Prussian war and the ensuing Paris Commune of 1870-71.

I like going to Sacré-Couer to listen to the sounds – notably the sound of the very fine Cavaille Coll organ inside the Basilica and the sound of the bells outside.

The Bells of Sacré Coeur:

The bells of Sacré Coeur are housed in the bell tower which is detached from the Basilica itself.  The most distinguished and majestic of the bells is the giant “Savoyarde”.  Cast in Annecy in 1895, the bell weighs in at a massive 19 tons making it one of the heaviest bells in the world.

Some people visit Sacré Coeur as tourists, others to worship and some for quite different reasons…

As for me – I am  simply Summoned by Bells*.

*Summoned by Bells, is the blank verse autobiography by John Betjeman, first published in November 1960 by Betjeman’s London publishers, John Murray.