Notre Dame de Paris

Walking around Notre-Dame

This walk points out the highlights of Notre-Dame, Paris’s famous Gothic cathedral.

Start in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral(1). Get upo close : the three doorways are absolutly covered in sculpted saints and angels. Before you enter, find the bronze star set into the parvis outside. This is Point Zero (2), the spot from which distances from Paris to all the towns in France are measured. Walk into the cathedral, built between 1163 and 1363, to admire its soaring Gothic nave. The entrance to the Towers of Notre-Dame (3) is outisde (be prepared to wait in line). The climb starts with 255 steps up the North Tower – great for kids who love a challenge, though not suitable for toddlers- then crosses the Galerie des Chimères, which gives eye-to-eye contact with fantastical carved stone monsters, to the South Tower. Another 147 steps lap takes you to the Bourdon (a giant bell) and onto the roof fo a fabulous panoramic view. This is where Quasimodo lives in Victor Hugo’s famous bok The Hunchback of Notre-Dame imagine him ringing the bell and creeping around amid the gargoyles. Back at ground level, at the far end of the parvis, descend into the Crypte Archéologique (4), underground excavations that reveal bits of a roman wharf and medieval shops, houses and churches. It’s not easy to figure out what everything is, but it gives a good sense of all the different people who have lived here over hundreds of year. Afterward, let off steam in the nearby garden (5) or watch the ace Rollerbladers showing off on the Pont au Double (6).

 Notre-dame Metro station : Cité, Saint-Michel (line4)