It’s been a year since our first (only, so far) trip to Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the baguettes… ahhhh…. I didn’t expect to love the city.
Millions of visitors each year can’t be right, can they?
Despite my best efforts, I fell in love with Paris’ uniquely Parisian essence. (I haven’t blogged about the trip before, because I hoped I’d be better able to describe it by now. I can’t. Paris simply is… well…. Paris!) That trip inspired this website (read that whole crazy story here). Talk about
having an impact! Anyway…
We enjoyed everything we did in Paris, so much so that I really don’t know where to begin… so I’ll start with Notre Dame Cathedral, which is the most visited site in the city. And you thought it was the Eiffel Tower…. Gotcha!
A (very brief) History of Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is located the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris. Construction on this exquisite French Gothic building began in 1163 and was essentially completed by 1250. The stained glass rose window, stone sculptures and bell tower inspire wonder in more than 13 million visitors each year. Notre Dame Cathedral is also an active Catholic church, a place of pilgrimage, and the heart of the Catholic Church in France. The Cathedral was seriously damaged in the French Revolution and rebuilt a century later.
Interesting Facts about Notre Dame Cathedral
- Victor Hugo wrote “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to raise awareness and appreciation for the cathedral after it had fallen into disrepair and was considered too hideous to be worth saving.
- Much of the cathedral was destroyed during the French revolution in 1793. Restoration was begun by architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and lasted 23 years.
- Napoleon was coronated here in 1804.
- The largest bell in the towers is known as the bourdon bell Emmanuel and weighs over 13 tons.
- Visitors who wish to climb the towers should wear comfortable shoes and be in reasonably good health. You’ve been warned! It’s 347 steps to the top!
Not sure those 347 steps are worth the trouble? Maybe these will convince you!
Not only would you “meet” a gargoyle up close, you would also experience sweeping vistas of the entire city. The river, centuries of architecture, the Eiffel Tower and the golden dome of Les Invalides in the distance. Simply breath-taking.
Of course, you also get to see this (adorable girl not included) tiny door that leads to the immense bell Emmanuel.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Know before you go.
- Exploring the main cathedral is free and open to the public every day.
- Cost to climb the Tower (as of this post): 8 euros for adults, 5 euro for those between 18-25, and free for children under 18.
- The Tower Climb is included in the Paris Museum Pass.
- Allow an hour for your climb and exploration at the top. That does not count the wait in line! (See next point)
- Arrive EARLY! Because the number of people who can climb the Tower at one time is limited, the wait is very long.
- If you get stuck in line like we did, enjoy some of the nearby street food, get to know your neighbors, and/or practice your best gargoyle impression. Make the wait fun!
- Nearby food includes Berthillon Glacier, the best ice cream in Paris.
- Closest Metro Lines to Notre Dame Cathedral are St-Michel Notre Dame – RER B Train Line, St-Michel Notre Dame – RER C Train Line, and Cité – Line 4.
Our visit to Notre Dame Cathedral was both interesting and challenging. Those stairs proved tough, but the view, the sense of history and the sense of accomplishment were well worth it!
Have you climbed Notre Dame? Would you?
Other places you might enjoy: