Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Glorious glass in the Notre Dame Cathedral, Ile de la Cité, Paris, France

Glorious glass in the Notre Dame Cathedral, Ile de la Cité, Paris.

Visiting Cathédrale Notre Dame

The Notre Dame (Cathedral of Our Lady) has sat at a very heart of Paris on an island in the Seine River, Ile de la Cité, since its foundation in 1163.

The distance from the city to any place in France is measured from this cathedral and both worshippers and travellers come from all over the world to soak in the aura of this masterpiece of French Gothic architecture.

lovelock bridge view of Notre Dame, Paris, France

Now lost Love-locks on the Pont de l’Archeveche, crossing from the Left Bank’s Latin Quarter to La Cité island.

Love-locks glam up a couple of Seine bridges, the idea being to write (or even better, engrave) a romantic message on a padlock, lock it to the wire fencing and throw the key into the river. Voila! Everlasting love!

view of Notre Dame's flying buttresses, Paris, France

Notre Dame’s famous ‘flying buttresses’ seen from the east side park Square Jean XXIII.

Some of Notre Dame’s best features, mostly inside the building.

• it’s free!

• three 13th century rose windows but especially the north window with its original 13thC stained glass.

• a 14th century statue of the Virgin and Child known as Notre-Dame de Paris, Our Lady of Paris.

• the 7, 800-pipe organ.

• the delicate but powerful flying buttress supports seen from the outside east end.

• scarey gargoyles crouching on the Galerie des Chimeres which require a climb up 387 steps to the top for a close examination (pay to enter).

• you get a breath-taking city view from the same high place, much better than the vaunted Sacré Coeur view.

• it’s near a couple of other must-see tourist attractions, Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.

view of Notre Dame from nearby park, Paris, France

Another view of the Old Lady from the Left Bank, Latin Quarter.

view of Notre Dame exterior with crowds, Paris, France

Early afternoon in the west-side plaza outside the Notre Dame entrance (right side door). Tour groups are lining up to get inside. Get there between 8am – 9am and avoid the lines!

view of Notre Dame facade carvings, Paris, France

Don’t neglect the facade, it’s loaded with wacky visions of hell as well as heaven!

Best time to visit Notre Dame

Try to get to the Notre Dame in the morning 8 to 9 o’clock to pre-empt the queues and crowds, especially for going up onto the roof.
It’s open and free from 8am to 6. 45pm daily except Saturdays and Sundays 8am to 7. 30pm.

Access to the roof opens, for a fee or with Museum Pass from April – September 10am to 6. 30pm; October – March 10am to 5. 30pm. Start queuing at 9 or 9. 30am in summertime.

Sunday afternoons are often enlivened with free organ recitals.

Near Notre Dame