Entrance outside the Basilica at the bottom of the staircase on the left.
The ceremonial entrance (Holy Thursday procession) is outside, on the west front, by a staircase and two bronze doors, which are copies of those of the baptistry in Florence.
Arches in a pure though austere style form a wide ambulatory suitable for processions (Eucharistic processions on the first Friday of the month, the Way of the Cross on Fridays during Lent…) with large statues (St Denis, St Geneviève, St Ignatius, St Francis-Xavier…).
In the centre is the Pieta chapel supporting the nave, which contains, in addition to a monumental statue of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross:
The tombs of Cardinals Guibert and Richard, surmounted by their effigies
A monument in remembrance of Cardinal Amette
An urn containing the heart of Alexandre Legentil, the initiator of the National Vow
The foundation stone of the Basilica (in front of the altar, in the paving)
A monument in remembrance of the priests and seminarists killed during the two world wars
A bronze statue of Christ recumbent, especially venerated on Good Friday
The ambulatory has seven side chapels in the east and seven in the west.
The absidial chapel, dedicated to the Holy Family, is surmounted by a statue of the Sacred Heart donated by Field Marshal Mac-Mahon. This representation of Christ with arms extended inspired Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who was to represent the Sacred Heart in similar fashion in the chapel of his Béni-Abbès hermitage in Algeria.
Turning around, one sees the chapel of Saint Peter, the columns of which support the apse of the Basilica. Saint Theresa came to pray here in 1887 and devoted herself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with her father, Blessed Louis Martin and her sister Céline. The Saint Peter altar is surmounted by a modern representation of the Sacred Heart in paper pulp, inspired by Blessed Charles de Foucauld’s drawing of the Sacred Heart in Béni-Abbès :
“a life-size Sacred Heart with arms extended to embrace, unite and call upon mankind and sacrifice himself by offering them his heart…”
In the treasury one can find superb ornaments offered to the Basilica, including a cloth of gold chasuble and the stole offered by Leo XIII as well as numerous ex-votos offered by the faithful in thanksgiving.