An absolute must for sightseers on a short holiday or city break in Paris has to be the much vaunted Notre-Dame Cathedral. It stands, majestic and graceful, on the Ile de la Cite, at the ‘heart’ of France both geographically and spiritually on the site of an old Roman temple.

The first stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163 and it took 170 years of toil, and countless numbers of architects and craftsmen, to build. It is a true gothic masterpiece. Once finished it stood 69 metres high, 130 metres long and featured magnificent flying buttresses at the east end of the cathedral.It was almost destroyed during the French Revolution and had major restoration during 1841-1864.

The top features of Notre Dame include:

  • West Front, glorious entrance with Biblical scenes
  • Flying Buttresses support the east facade
  • Twin Towers are 69m high, you can climb the 387 steps for stunning views
  • Rose Windows, three of them in the north, south and west facades
  • Statue of the Virgin and Child 14th-century, at entrance to the Chancel

Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral on Paris holiday

Notre Dame Cathedral of course is renowned for its gargoyles and the story of the hunchback but there are many more peaceful and uplifting reasons to visit. There are regular services and visitors are welcome to attend. The Cathedral only has partial wheelchair access and it does get incredibly busy the best times to go are either early in the morning or later in the late afternoon.

There is a separate entrance to the North Tower to the left of the main doors if you wish to climb the steps to the top and gain stunning views of Paris and to get up close to the gargoyles. The Tower stays open late on Saturday and Sunday during June – August – charges do apply but are included with the Paris Pass.

The area around either side of Ile de la Cite has some excellent places to stay, for more information read the amoreTravel guide to Paris hotels.

Paris holiday or city break guide to best hotelsOpening Times:

The cathedral is open every day of the year from 8:00 am to 6:45 pm
(7:15 pm on Saturdays and Sundays).


The cathedral is free of charge every day of the year, donations are requested.
Charges apply to the North Tower
Paris City Breaks