From the history of the cathedral to the present-day condition of both its interior and exterior, Notre-Dame is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and most visited sites throughout all of Paris. If you are heading there for the first time in the next upcoming months, the following should help to make you familiar with it before stepping foot inside its beautiful doors…
A Brief History
French for “Our Lady of Paris”, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is a place of rich history, religion, and culture as well as an iconic symbol of the city itself. From the architectural standpoint, the structure is said to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture as well as being amongst the most well-known church buildings in the world along with the largest. Home to the official chair (cathedra) of the archbishop of Paris, Notre-Dame has endured extensive damage and destruction throughout the years but has now been restored to its present beautiful state.
The Catholic cathedral is located on the eastern half of the Ile de la Cite, which is in the fourth arrondissement of Paris and right along the Seine, making not only the building itself impressive and attractive but also its surroundings as well.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl., Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
When to Visit
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is open every single day of the year and is completely free to visit and also participate in the services that start from the hours of 8am to 6:45pm with the exceptions of weekends, which start at 7:15am. The busiest times of the year include Christmas time and the summer months where the crowds will often be larger. Autumn and Spring are your best options for fewer people.
What to do There
The first thing you will want to do before even exploring the insides of the cathedral is to admire its incredibly impressive architecture. Climb the 380 steps up to the top of the cathedral towers and take notice of the statues on the sides and the incredible view of the river and of the surroundings before making your way inside. Once you do head inside, you will have the option to visit freely by yourself or participate in an audioguide available at the front reception desk, which gives you the chance to learn a bit more about the history if you are interested. Another option would be to join in on a group tour, which are led by volunteers of the cathedral and provide a real opportunity to dive into what truly makes this iconic cathedral so incredible unique and special. Wander about and light a candle or drop in an offering if you feel so inclined and simply take in the many works of art, the massive organs, and be overcome by the beauty in each of its many details.
Whether you decide to visit and explore the cathedral on your own terms or think a group tour would help to make your visit more meaningful, your time at the cathedral will surely be one for the books.