You know what they say, “Third times a charm”, and that’s exactly how I felt after our most recent visit to Notre Dame de Paris. Hardly able to remember the first occasion as I was just a child, and battling large crowds and illness during our visit three and a half years ago, it wasn’t until the most recent visit that I really got a chance to appreciate this magnificent place!
You might be wondering why we keep visiting the same place repeatedly when there is so much to see and do in a city the size of Paris? There are a number of reasons, but the simple answer is that a place this amazing deserves repeat visits.
Another, and more practical reason is that Simon wasn’t feeling well enough to climb the 387+ stairs to the top of the bell tower during our last visit and I promised him that if we ever came back it would be a priority. Simon has never met a staircase he didn’t consider a challenge, one reason why I don’t worry about finding time to exercise on our vacations. I know I’ll be guaranteed a workout anyway!
Tickets and Advice:
We loved this visit! However, to make the most of your time here a few things we wished we’d taken the time to know beforehand
- If this is your first trip to Paris: Notre Dame de Paris is located on the île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement and can be accessed in a variety of ways. We choose a bicycle cab!
- 13 million people a year visit Notre Dame, so be prepared for large crowds. The lines to enter the Cathedral look daunting, but do move steadily. Once inside there are audio guides available, or you’re free to explore on your own.
- Entrance to the Cathedral is free and all are welcome.
- Suitcases and large back packs aren’t allowed into either the Cathedral or bell towers. I whole heartedly agree with this rule, and if you’re interested in reading more about my feelings on backpacks click here!
- The entry to visit the bell towers is located on the OUTSIDE of the Cathedral, on the left side of the West façade. This is separate from the entrance to the Cathedral’s interior. If you’re only interested in the bell towers there is no need to enter the cathedral.
- Entrance to the bell towers is run independently by the Centre Des Monuments. There is no need to purchase tickets in advance just enter the line. Adults are 10 € and children under 18 are free with a paying adult.
- The visit will take about 50 minutes and keep in mind there are no restrooms.
- Only 20 people are admitted to the bell towers at a time. The next group is allowed in once the previous group has come down, about every 10 minutes.
- Be prepared to climb. There are 387+ steps leading to the top of the bell tower. Wear proper shoes and clothing! We were behind a woman in high heel booties and it was obvious she was struggling the entire climb.
- Each group will only be allowed 5 minutes at the top.
- Once inside and just before you climb the steps you’ll listen to a brief talk and have an opportunity to purchase items at a small gift shop. If you see something you want, purchase it, because you won’t be going back the same way.
- If you’re lucky you’ll be there on a clear day, however, keep in mind there is no shade and it gets hot at the top!
5 Fun Facts!
- The first stone was laid in 1163, but Notre Dame wasn’t completed until 1345. Almost 200 years later!
- The Crown of Thorns, a piece of THE Cross as well as a nail are just three of the holy relics inside Notre Dame.
- Another name for Notre Dame is Our Lady of Paris.
- Bee hives are kept on the roof of the sacristy.
- The cathedral’s famous sentries, the gargoyles, you see perched high above the ground, are officially known as chimera, and were added by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc during a 25 year restoration which started in 1845.
To say I loved our visit to Notre Dame would be an understatement! From the sweeping views of Paris from high atop the bell towers…
To the Chimeras and gargoyles ever present keeping a constant and silent vigil over the cathedral, Paris and all who pass below…
And finally the feeling you get wandering through the cool dark interiors knowing you’re not alone. That for 850+ years people from around the world have been coming to this same place, each for their own reasons, but surrounded by these same walls, bathed in the glow of these same chandeliers and stained glass windows. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but for me it was magical.
Believe it or not, we still haven’t seen everything! Twist my arm, I guess we’ll have to go back…
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