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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Cara

Notre Dame... more like Notre Damn!| Paris Travel Tips

Updated: Apr 26

Notre Dame Cathedrale facade

Paris Travel Tips

In my first few weeks of arriving in Paris, I decided to fully immerse myself in Parisian life. What better way to do so than to tick off one of the biggest tourist attractions: Notre Dame. Luckily for me, I have a lovely group of friends who are also working in Paris so we decided to meet up and explore the Cathedral. My friend Lauren used to the app ‘Je file’ (AKA Duck the Line) which enabled us to skip the queue however we still had a mountain of stairs to climb before we even reached the reception desk! When people decide to come to Notre Dame they just take photographs outside or see the beautiful stained glass art and architecture inside the main body of the cathedral. Not us- we wanted to one-up that and we headed up to the rooftops of Notre Dame where we'd heard that you can see one the best views of Paris. Once we’d successfully managed to climb about 1,000,001 stairs we reached the reception desk (even that was situated in an ornate gothic alcove). We reaped the perks of being young and members of the European Union (for now at least) and we were able to get free entry- which is generally the case for a lot of cultural places if you’re under 26, or a student and come from an E.U country.

I now understand why Parisians are generally quite skinny- everywhere has millions of stairs for you to climb! You get your daily exercise in that’s for sure. After a few brief pit stops we managed to make it to the first level of Notre Dame Tower. The view was breathtaking. We had a Birdseye view of the whole of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse- everything.

Panoramic view of Paris from the Notre Dame rooftop

We then went into the Belfry and I truly had a Quasimodo moment. The bells are staggeringly large and there are 10 in total, named: Emmanuel, Marie, Gabriel, Anne Geneviève, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoît-Joseph, Maurice and Jean-Marie but we only managed to get a glimpse of Emmanuel, the tenor bell, which is the first one you see as you enter the belfry. He's also the biggest, weighing at around 13 tonnes!

Bell Emmanuel in the Notre Dame belfry

Turret from Notre Dame

The best was yet to come. Between our huffing and puffing and my friend Jake’s vertigo, we managed to reach the rooftop and get a panoramic view of Paris. The view above the rooftops of Paris is stunning and I recommend that everyone should see it at least once on their trip to Paris. Whether you’re afraid of heights or not, the view truly makes up for it and it's obvious why so many people fall in love with Paris.

Girl on the roof of the Notre Dame

All jokes aside, visiting Notre Dame was such a great experience. It’s the epicentre of la Ile de la cité and, it's obvious why it is the most visited monument in Paris. Notre Dame retains such a cultural significance in Paris and across the globe; it is immortalised in cinema, art and literature and I would 100% recommend that you visit it if you're ever in la ville lumière.

Key information:

· Notre Dame is a medieval Cathedral, decorated with ornate gothic designs. The gothic sculptures particularly those of the gargoyles are amazing, especially up close as they’re extremely detailed and still in great condition despite being from the 13th century and surviving damage from the wake of the French Revolution by which many of the statues were beheaded! 

· Notre Dame is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


· Head to Notre Dame later in the evening. Our slot was around 8:30 pm which was great because we avoided the tourist rush.

· Use the app ‘Je File’ to skip the inevitable huge snaking queue.

· If you’re under 26 and live in a country which is a member of the European Union bring some I.D. to prove your age- it will save you a small fortune and everything is better when it's free!

· Wear flat, comfortable shoes, you’ll be walking a lot and the staircases are extremely narrow too- I’m not exaggerating when I say there are a lot of stairs, I got in my recommended daily intake of exercise!

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Exterior of Notre Dame Cathedrale

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