Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
For a first-time visitor to Notre Dame, investing in the audio guide is essential to immerse in and understand this overwhelmingly significant Paris icon. There's a lot to see and absorb—history, architecture, artifacts, theology—and the audio guide gives a much-needed sense of direction and context. Even without spiritual ties, the awe-inspiring grandeur of the cathedral is not to be missed from every angle—tour the naves, walk around the entirety of the exterior, view the city from the top of the towers, walk along Quai de Montebello to admire it from across the water, or admire it from a river cruise down the Seine. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is everything everyone says it is and more.
By Maci Wachtel, AFAR Staff
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
The gargoyles that adorn this 900-year-old Gothic wonder have some of the best views in Paris; climb the 387 steps of the South Tower (there is no elevator) for a similar perspective. While you’re up there, inspect the cathedral’s largest bell, the 13-ton Emmanuel. Or skip the climb, rent an audio guide and learn about the role the cathedral has played in the history of France as you admire its architectural details. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
By Sara Tucker
A Gothic Wonder
One of greatest houses of worship in Christendom and a feat of Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame has been host to royal weddings, weary pilgrims, and the crowning of Napoleon as emperor of France in 1804. Construction began in 1163 and lasted for more than 180 years; heavily damaged during the French Revolution, the church was restored in the mid-1800s. It continues to awe visitors with its iconic stained glass windows, gargoyles and flying buttresses. Amazingly, entrance into the cathedral is free and photography is allowed, but be respectful of those there to worship. At the back of the church, behind the nave, an extensive timeline showing the history of the church is offered in both French and English. For those wanting to tour the underground crypt or view the city from the bell tower, a fee is required. Do take some time to walk around the entire exterior of Notre Dame. Look up on rainy days to see the water spew out of the gargoyles. A tranquil park is situated on the back side of the church and rarely known to visitors.
By Joshua Kozak
Notre Dame de Paris
Who goes to Paris and doesn't visit Notre Dame? On the Ile de la Cite in Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral is one of Paris' important attractions and religious sites. All distances to and from Paris are measured from the front of the cathedral which is kilometer zero. Construction on this church began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. This is one of the first Gothic cathedrals in Europe that used the flying buttress. You can make use of the audio guides to help you tour the cathedral. The facade is decorated with huge gargoyles and statues. The interior is vast and elegant. Just inside the right entrance is the statue of Our Lady of Paris (Notre Dame de Paris) for whom the church was named. I tried to imagine being in the cathedral hundreds of years ago with the residents and King of Paris. I was mesmerized by the beauty of this ancient historic cathedral. The north Rose window is an original stained glass panel and the south Rose panel was a gift from King Saint Louis IX. Climb the 387 steps of the south tower to the bell of Notre Dame ( the bell made famous in the movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"). Outside in front of the Cathedral, steps descend to the Crypte Archeologique. This museum shows you the city of Paris from the 1st century to Medieval times. This is a fascinating underground experience. Each year about 13 million visitors tour Notre Dame. When I visit Paris, Notre Dame is on my list. There's always something new to see. A 5 star site!
By Connie Hand
The Most Stunning Gothic Cathedral in the World!
Truly Spectacular. A must see in Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. It was restored and saved from destruction by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, one of France's most famous architects.
views from the top: from the grand to the intimate
Climb some four hundred steps up the bell tower of Notre Dame Cathedral, and you end up about 20 stories above Paris. Take in the view, from the monumental--the Pantheon! the Eiffel Tower!--to the domestic--a rooftop terrace garden on the Île de la Cité. Few cities are as celebrated in images as The City of Light, but even Paris has its quiet corners.
By Joseph Cyr, AFAR Local Expert
Storm in fabulous Paris
Going to Paris is always great but this time the weather was just miserable, only at the end of the day we were able to go out a bit. The sun came up and brightened Notre Dame making for some nice dramatic shots. By the time we got to Notre Dame with the hop on, hop off bus, it was already closed :-(.
On top of the famous cathedral our one rainy day gave just right amount of gravitas to the day. I love the feel of the photo as so many people recognize this place but no one has yet told me they got a better shot of it.
By uncle Louie
This accordion player was one of the many street musicians we saw during out stay in Paris. We were drawn to him by the lilting strains of Abba as we entered he garden behind Notre Dame. Several days later we saw him again on the street at the entrance to Notre Dame. He, like us, was watching the acrobatic roller bladers.
Notre Dame and the Seine at Night
Paris is always amazong, but at night, well, there's a reason it's called the City of Light.
Notre-Dame de Paris
The architecture just blows my mind. I went back countless times and will never forget having a quiet lunch right outside by the river while staring in awe at this beautiful creation and thinking to myself, "I'm really happy."
By Sally Lee
Looking Up at Notre Dame
When I went to Paris, the first thing I wanted to see was Notre Dame. Yup, Notre Dame Cathedral. Not the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa, but this Gothic Cathedral that long ago captured my imagination. I remember many years ago, sitting in Miss Mueller's World History class looking at slides of this ornate, yet beautiful building. I was fascinated. So, after checking into my hotel room, I grabbed my camera and flew out the door. I wasn't disappointed. I went inside, with all the other tourists, and couldn't believe that a mass was actually taking place. Now, I am no longer Catholic, but was raised Catholic. The moment caught up with me. I was in one of the most iconic buildings in the world, mass is in progress, I am looking at the famous Rose Window ... tears welled up in my eyes. It was so incredible to be standing in this stunning church. I didn't even notice all the other people. I highly recommend seeing this beautiful cathedral. I mean really see it. Take the time to walk around it, sit in a pew for 10 minutes and notice all the gorgeous details. I think it will awe you as it did me.
April in Paris
As cliché as it sounds, there is nothing like springtime in Paris. A detour to Notre Dame's side garden is a great way to evade the crowds out front and enjoy a more scenic view of the cathedral's flying buttresses and gothic architecture. Further back one can find Pont de l'Archevêché—a bridge full of locks left behind by lovers.
By Lara Dalinsky, AFAR Local Expert
I wanted to get some interesting and different perspectives on Paris. So as I wandered around Notre Dame one evening, I started noticing the taxis. There were a couple close to the façade of the cathedral. I was able to get this image with the repetitive background thrown out of focus. I then converted it to black and white minus the taxi sign. It is one of my favorite images from Paris. The sun was getting low and the city was beginning to light up. It was fabulous!
Cruising past the Notre Dame was a great way to see this icon from many angles, making photography a breeze!
By Genevieve, AFAR Local Expert
No matter how serious life gets, you still gotta have that one person you can be completely stupid with... Île de la Cité, Paris June 2012 I was walking in the streets of Paris for hours with my sister. She came from Tel Aviv and I came from New York to celebrate my Birthday in Paris. It was quite a last-minute-plan that worked out very well like a last-minute-plan can work out. My sister hasn't been to Paris for a while and was there for a shoot so the timing was perfect for both of us. Talking about timing. What makes a photograph to a good one, is timing as well. We were walking in the area of Île de la Cité, right about to cross to the Notre Dame de Paris, when we saw this clown with the aquarium on his head. I wasn't really impressed or paying attention as I saw him already in my previous visit to Paris but my sister got quite curious so she stood there to look at him. When I turned my head back to call my sister to join me, I saw this kid. The way these two were interacting was amazingly funny, naive and so....pure. I couldn't help myself and I took these pictures.
By Sivan Askayo, AFAR Local Expert
I loved Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Right next to it was this lively street. A bit touristy, sure, but a fun place to people watch. I was drawn to the building sitting on the corner, cafe on the bottom, apartments up top. Scooters and cars whizzing by. It was so "Paris". And all in the shadow of Notre Dame. I loved it.
Sitting outside of Notre Dame, enjoying a nutella crepe and a Kronenbourg 1664. Life can get better... but not by much.
The South Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral
Located in the Notre Dame Cathedral, the South Rose Window is truly a sight to behold. Having survived centuries of damage to its amazing edifice, it stands fully restored today as one of the crowning artistic masterpieces of all time. Sometimes we move too fast in life, so people say to make time to 'stop and smell the roses.' If you happen to be hustling through Paris, I'd suggest you make time to stop and enjoy this particular rose.
By Matthew Keesecker, AFAR Local Expert
“Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.” -Victor Hugo
Have you ever had the perfect day in an unknown place, amongst a foreign language? Mine was on a Sunday in June; it was hot but I invited the sun to shine down on me as I discovered the beauties of Paris amongst friends. Decked out in my Sunday best I caught the metro to church, stopped for chocolat du pain at a little café near Notre Dame, walked down to the Seine river, lounged in the sun, instead of walking up the stairs of Notre Dame some of my friends and I decided to enjoy one of the services going on instead, walked across one of the many love bridges, got lost for hours in Shakespeare and company, tried escargot for the first time, and ended walking along one of the many side streets to get some mouthwatering gelato at Amorino's, then end the night under the Eiffel tower. This is what Paris is all about; it is a place ready for you to fall in love with, all you have to do is be willing.
Travel More, Work Less
This is a photo I took of the back of Notre Dame in the gardens this June. Seeing this and then walking across the "Love Bridge" while listening to a performer play Parlez-moi d'amour on his accordion- you can't help but love Paris.
Watching Over the City
You have to climb up to the top of Notre Dame. Sweeping views across Paris and you get to see where the "hunchback" lived.
By Glenn Miller
A really great place to take photos!
The top of Notre Dame is a really great spot for 360 photos of Paris. If you get there early enough (and it isn't July or August) the wait is not too long. It is a well organized tour that gives you sufficient time to take photos all along the building. The gargoyles are fun too! One word of caution: the gypsies are particularly busy in this area so don't fall for any of their tricks and watch your bags.
By Andi Fisher, AFAR Local Expert
Another view of the Notre Dame
After taking a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral, try admiring the historic Gothic architecture from the other side of the water.
Gargoyles of Notre Dame
Climbing to the top of Notre Dame's bell tower is well worth the 387 steps for the spectacular view of Paris. As the cathedral's most famous gargoyle, this guy has arguably one of the best views in the world. Who wouldn't want to have his job? As a bonus, admission for the climb is included with the Paris Museum Pass.
Gargoyles on Notre-Dame with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Spring tour of Paris. We climbed to the top of the Cathedral...ever wonder why they built the church with such scary things as decorations?
By Doug Hansen
Notre Dame (Front View)-May 2000
Spring Break Backpacking Trip 2000
By Rachel Holtz
Admiring the holy
There was a service going on at the time. I found myself next to this gentleman and we looked at each other, smiled, and continued admiring the gothic masterpiece together.
The best time of day to visit Notre Dame
Notre Dame Cathedral is a very magical, ominous place that seems to hold many secrets. When you visit the site just as the sun starts going down (which is my favourite time of day to visit), it almost seems as though there are even more mysteries hiding in there than you may have first thought.
By Chrissy S.
Galerie des Chimères - Worth the Wait & Climb!
© All rights reserved Yes, it's been done before many times. But I still wanted *my* shot of the gothic creatures that adorn the Notre Dame cathedral. "Bon jour, my pretties!" I greeted them. They didn't respond, but I suppose they were busy keeping watch over the cathedral and the city! I waited an hour in the queue to go up to the top of the cathedral. Then after being on my feet for an hour, I had climb around 200 stairs. The locals must think that is a fun trick to play on the tourists! But the view and quiet above the city is definitely worth the effort!
A boy offers a piece of bread to a nearby house sparrow outside the Notre Dame Cathedral. It may take some time for the sparrows to gain your trust, but with some patience, it's a fun experience to take part in.
Paris on a Rainy Day
A view of Paris on a rainy day from atop the Notre Dame Cathedral. Be sure to get in line to visit the top of Notre Dame over an hour before the closing dime otherwise you won't be able to get up. Once you do, it's an incredible perspective of the city.
Notre Dame at Night
Make sure to capture Notre Dame at night. Some of the best views are from the river and the nearby bridges. Pack a picnic, dangle your legs over the Seine, and watch this beautiful building light up the Paris sky.
Head over to one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. You'll be passing these flying buttresses a lot, so no need to dwell.
Check out the back of Notre Dame Cathedral
Go around Notre Dame and discover a total new view of it. The roofline, statues, gargoyles stand out and the park is always freshly landscaped with flowers. Many benches to sit down and take it all in. This blog has more http://noworriesparis.com//?s=notre+dame&search=Go
By Kyla Milani
Île-de-la-Cité and Notre-Dame Cathedral
Begin at the eastern edge of the Île-de-la-Cité; from the quai aux Fleurs you can look across to the Île-St-Louis and the houses on the quai d'Orléans. I chose one of these buildings as Aunt Agnes's Paris home, and despite their plain exteriors they were once very grand and extremely fashionable houses. Nearly all have been divided into flats, which is unsurprising given the demand for addresses in the central arrondissements, and a search on Air BnB will reveal that a number are available for short-term rentals. Can you imagine waking up in the morning to such a gorgeous view? Now it's time for you to visit Notre-Dame, which is my favorite of the French cathedrals (yes, I even prefer it to Chartres). Do as Helena does when she first enters: keep your head down and your gaze unfocused as you walk the length of the center aisle; when you reach the crossing, look up and rejoice in the light from the great Rose windows. This is what I did when I first visited Notre-Dame more than thirty years ago, and I have never forgotten that moment.
Young Girl In The City Of Lights
I had just graduated high school when I visited Paris in 1983 and the Notre Dame Cathedral. It didn't take long for this city to cast it's spell on me. I climbed those stairs up to the first overlook but it took all that was in me at the time. I didn't know until that trip that I get claustrophobia in narrow spaces. The stairway kept getting smaller and smaller as I climbed. People were all around you and you felt like you couldn't get out. I was out of breath and scared by the time I came to that first level. But it was worth it to look out over the city with Gargoyle statues staring at you from the sides. Everyone below looked like ants. I tried going up to the next level but I had to inch my way down as it was just too close for my comfort. Still it was an awesome experience that I remember to this day.
By Letina Kelly
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
+33 1 42 34 56 10