Popularized by Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the Notre Dame Cathedral on l’Ile de France in Paris is a wondrous sight to see! With a history spanning over 800 years, the Cathedral has been a vital structure in many of Paris’ historical moments.
Construction on the Cathedral began in 1160 upon the appointment of the Bishop Maurice de Sully. Final construction of the Cathedral finished in 1345, but alterations and modifications went on until the 1800’s. While most of the exterior and interior are true to the original design, the Cathedral has gone through some dark periods of vandalism and destruction. The numerous restoration projects have been able to restore the Cathedral to its once magnificent splendor.
Walking west along the Left or Right Bank will lead you to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The best time to visit is early morning just after opening hours (7am or 7:30am depending on the season).
I didn’t take any photos of the interior because it was quite dark and didn’t want to draw attention with my flash. But trust me: it is incredibly beautiful on the inside!
If you are going up the bell tower, I recommend starting to queue around 9am. The queue is on the left side of the Cathedral. The entrance to the bell tower opens at 10am, but the queues start early. We were in the second group to start the climb up the stairs and we overheard the employees saying the line was at a 2hr wait! At 10:15am!
There are many stairs to reach the top. My advice: take your time going up those stairs. But once you reach the top, the views are stunning!
Don’t forget to enter the little door on the north side of the Cathedral to enter inside the bell tower. This is a chance to be up close to a multi-tonne bell! Unfortunately they are no longer operated manually. The bells are now automated and computerized.
Have you been to Notre Dame Cathedral? Did you climb the stairs to the bell tower?