Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
Point Zéro des Routes de France
Distances from Paris to every part of metropolitan France are measured from place du Parvis Notre Dame, the vast square in front of the...
Square René Viviani
Opened in 1928 on the site of the former graveyard of adjoining church Église St-Julien-le-Pauvre, this picturesque little park is home...
Beneath the square in front of Notre Dame is the Archaeological Crypt. The 117m-long and 28m-wide area displays in situ the remains of...
Snag a sunlit table to catch up on emails or write postcards home at this busy, timeless cafe facing Notre Dame. Coffee, tea and...
Pedigreed chef Hiroki Yoshitake combines French technique with Japanese sensibility, resulting in gorgeous signature creations (such as...
6 place du Parvis Notre Dame, 4e · interesting places nearby
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris information
Paris' most visited unticketed site, with upwards of 14 million visitors per year, is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. The focus of Catholic Paris for seven centuries, its vast interior accommodates 6000 worshippers.
Highlights include its three spectacular rose windows , treasury , and bell towers (www.monuents-nationaux.fr), which can be climbed. From the North Tower, 400-odd steps spiral to the top of the western façade, where you’ll find yourself face-to-face with frightening gargoyles and a spectacular view of Paris.
Built on a site occupied by earlier churches and, a millennium before that, a Gallo-Roman temple, Cathédrale Notre Dame was begun in 1163 according to the design of Bishop Maurice de Sully and largely completed by the early 14th century. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Revolution; architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc carried out extensive renovations between 1845 and 1864.
Notre Dame is known for its sublime balance, though if you look closely you’ll see all sorts of minor asymmetrical elements introduced to avoid monotony, in accordance with standard Gothic practice. These include the slightly different shapes of each of the three main portals.
Inside, the central choir , with its carved wooden stalls and statues representing the Passion of the Christ, is noteworthy. The trésor (treasury) in the southeastern transept contains artwork, liturgical objects and first-class relics. Among these is the Ste-Couronne, the ‘Holy Crown’, which is purportedly the wreath of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he was crucified, brought here in the mid-13th century. It’s exhibited between 3pm and 4pm on the first Friday of each month, 3pm to 4pm every Friday during Lent, and 10am to 5pm on Good Friday.
Notre Dame is very much the heart of Paris – so much so that distances from Paris to every part of metropolitan France are measured from place du Parvis Notre Dame , the vast square in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris where crowds gather in the afternoon sun to admire the cathedral façade. A bronze star across the street from the cathedral’s main entrance marks the exact location of Point Zéro des Routes de France .
One of the best views of the cathedral is from square Jean XXIII , the little park behind the cathedral, where you can better appreciate the forest of ornate flying buttresses that encircle the chancel and support its walls and roof. Don't miss the line-up of bells in the garden here: in 2013, to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame, the cathedral was kitted out with nine new bells to compliment the original, 13-tonne bell Emmanuel (all of the cathedral’s bells are named).