Paris City Guide: Notre Dame Cathedral

Why visit:

The most famous cathedral in Paris, Notre Dame is a spectacular sight. It’s the most visited monument in Paris – and you can instantly see why. A magnificent 850 year old structure, it exudes gothic splendour, from its beautiful stained glass windows to the strange and wonderful gargoyles that rest on the towers.

Make it a must-see on your visit to Paris, and don’t forget to explore the fantastic treasures within the cathedral too.

Don’t miss:

 Located in a beautiful part of central Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral looks impressive from the outside. Take in the picturesque view, and explore and admire the gothic façade from all around.

Next, head inside to explore the interior. Stunning arches, stained glass windows and candle lights create a powerful and unforgettable atmosphere. Take a closer look at the paintings, wood carvings and sculptures inside – many of these are utterly unique.

Take the trip up to the bell towers where you’ll not only meet the iconic gargoyles and 13 ton bell, you’ll also get to enjoy an incredible view over Paris.

Head down to the archaeological crypt where you can step back in time to medieval Paris, and see the ruins of old houses and streets that once stood in the area.

Lastly, visit the Treasures of Notre Dame, to catch a glimpse of historic relics and sacred objects that have been carefully preserved.

You’ll also find the perfect Parisian selfie point – from the Pont Saint Michel. With the cathedral located in the background, it makes the perfect shot of your visit to Paris.

How to get there:

As it is a popular destination, Notre Dame Cathedral is easy to get to by Metro, RER and bus. Many tour buses will also stop nearby.

By Metro:

Stop at Cité or Saint-Michel stations taking line 4. The cathedral is easily recognisable as you emerge, and within close walking distance. 

By RER:

Take the RER B or C to Saint-Michel Notre Dame station – the cathedral is close by.

By Bus:

Routes 21, 37, 47, 85 and 96 all stop close by.

Tips:

 Visiting the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral is free – but as it’s a very popular destination, it can get busy. Head out in the morning to beat the crowds, and get in early for the lines to the bell tower.

The most precious treasure in the cathedral’s treasury is only brought out on certain occasions. To catch a glimpse of it, you can see it after Mass every Friday at 6.15pm, or on the first Friday of each month at 3 pm.

While you have to pay for entrance to the bell tower, treasury and crypt, some tourist passes such as the Paris Pass will include free entry. Be sure to have your pass with you to avoid the queues.

Do not take large bags, backpacks or luggage with you when visiting. The largest size bag allowed to take inside the cathedral is 40 cm x 40cm x 20cm.

There is no elevator or assistance to climb the bell tower. There are 422 steps to climb, and there is no bathroom facility at the cathedral.

Remember that the cathedral is a place of worship. While visitors of all beliefs are welcome, keep a respectful attitude inside. 

Best time to visit:

The cathedral is free to visit the interior between 10am to 5.30pm from October to March, and 10 am to 6.30 pm from April to September. Tickets are available to purchase for entry to the bell tower and treasury, and last admission ends 45 minutes before closing time.

The cathedral is extremely popular and gets very busy during the day – so if you want to soak up the atmosphere, get there early in the morning, before 9.30 am to get an early start on ticket lines, and avoid a lengthy queue.

Estimated visit time:

Expect to spend between 1 – 2 hours to visit the cathedral and explore all its sights, or longer if you are visiting later in the day.